Our neighbour’s daughter-in-law has Cancer. They found a lump a few months ago and they decided to cut it out and treat with chemo and all that stuff. I don’t know the ins and outs. My neighbour is an old woman and her social skills need working on, but she’s nice enough. I don’t think she knows how to express herself so that people understand her. She told me it was very sad that her daughter-in-law was ill because now it means that she’ll have to deal with the maids herself, when previously her daughter-in-law did it and managed it so well. Obviously she’s going through more than that but she can’t open up to a virtual stranger about the fear and dread and sleeplessness she’s experiencing on behalf of her son and her grandson. 

We live in our tiny worlds, these four walls that separate us from one tragedy to the next. I have no idea about these people, about the woman across the corridor and her newborn or the woman who tutors in the flat opposite. What dramas must they be experiencing? I’ve only met them all once and that was to gauge their opinion about the ‘muzac’ the building authorities decided to play at full volume through the PA system every morning. I’m a very grumpy person without sleep and the previous night I had very little sleep! So the theme from Titanic playing over and over again (a whining instrumental version) just grated on my nerves. I needed to find out what the neighbours thought and they were ok with it, actually. It was only me who had a problem. It didn’t occur to me that they probably had much bigger, troubling issues to tackle, like whether their newborn would sleep enough in the day to allow them enough time to prepare dinner and take a shower. Or whether their grandson’s mother would live to see her own grandchildren.

We’ve lost the art of being neighbourly. I’m the worst for it. I hide away in my room, typing and reading and judging. I wish I was brave enough to meet the people who live only a few feet away. I wish I could be bothered to visit and offer help. But everytime I pluck up the courage to do that, I’m met with suspicion and the firm assurance that ‘no…everything is absolutely fine.’ Relationships and trust need to be built  over time, not through a disingenuous one off query of concern. 

But we need to ask ourselves…do we want be involved through all the heartache and dirty diapers? We’ve experienced enough of that already, right? But the bigger question is, in order to live a life that means something do we NEED to be involved through the heartache and the dirty diapers of our neighbours? I think perhaps we do.

Otherwise what’s the point?


Babu Ghat

Kolkata is such a magical place. It really is. Its meandering pace is just right for me. Oh my goodness, what would I do, who would I be, were I in some bustling metropolis with no time to think of words to place in lines of poetry and prose? 

On Saturday evening, around 4, O’Clock we set off towards Babu Ghat. Through the centre we drove in stop start traffic, towards an oasis of calm and tranquility. On the banks of the Ganges we were blessed with the golden light of a setting sun and in her arms, we were borne safely to a new kind of peace







A Shift

I’m not who I used to be. Or I’m more of who I am than I ever was before. Does that make sense?

When you’re part of the rat race, when you’re rushing about worrying about how to pay the bills or what time to pick up the children, or what to cook for dinner, when you have the bare minimum of ingredients and no budget, you have no time to be yourself. When you leave the race, it’s easier to see the beauty of a pepper pot or the perfect symmetry of the view outside your kitchen window, or wonder at the robin with his red breast atop a bare branch, making a picture worth taking. It is for this reason I am blessed.

There may come a time, very soon when I will have to go back to the race, to start running again. But I hope that this time I’ll be able to take time out of every day to watch the colours in the sky with my children and to watch the rise and fall of their chests as they sleep. I hope I take the time out to treasure their hugs and the light in their faces. Because as you know, Kolkata has brought about a shift in me and I so dread going back to the way things used to be.

Here are some images I have taken the time to see. Every day is beautiful here. Everyday holds a jewel.














I’m blogging and stuff but I’m not getting any feedback. I’m getting lots of new followers every day but no one except for treesshrubs (you’re awesome, by the way!) is liking my posts! No one’s commenting and it’s as if I’ve gone back to square one. Is there anybody out there? How do I generate the ‘likes’ again? Is my writing rubbish? It’s OK, you can tell me!

barely :)

Faith or Luck or a Way of Mind?


What is it? Why is it?

I’m going through stuff at home at the moment. It’s best not to elaborate…it’s private! But it’s stuff, nonetheless.

I thought I was dealing with it quite well, I thought I could handle the ‘either or’ of the situation but last night I was bowled a bit of a ‘googly’, as they say in cricket. There’s a third option or to be more precise, an infinity of options. Now, having worked out and mastered my reactions to the eventualities I thought were going to be upon us, I found it a bit difficult to remain composed during the whole situation when I find that there are other likely outcomes and not so easy, comfortable ones, either. But just at the right time, a friend appeared, pretty much like an angel and is leading me to something new, a revolution of the mind…’faith in something more than I’. It’s happened completely by accident, but at exactly the right time! And I find myself wondering how did I get here?

I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual. A friend described me to someone as agnostic. I suppose I could be that too. I believe in a higher power, but I don’t believe it’s quite God. I believe in the right time for things and that everything has a reason that we may not fully understand. The only reason I believe these things, is that time and time again, I have experienced it.

When I have sat back and waited for things to play out, believe it or not, they have played out beautifully. I have been happy and fulfilled. When I have been stuck in a rut and have looked for change without success, I have stopped and suddenly change came and dragged me into a situation I would not have even contemplated. I admit; I have been lucky. Or have I? Am I one of those people who have just simply accepted that things always happen for the best and then have adapted to it, consciously looking for the positive? What would have happened if I decided that I was the unluckiest person in the world? Would that shape my experiences in the opposite direction?

Is it age? I’m in my early thirties (yuck!) and I have reached a stage in my life when I say, some things cannot be changed and we should be grateful for what we have, because not so long ago, we did not have all this. And it is true, I have accrued a husband, two children and more laughter and amusement following these acquisitions than I ever thought possible.

Perhaps it is where I am. I’m in Calcutta or Kolkata. It’s a city where people amble nonchalantly, rather than stride with direction. “Hoi jabe” is a phrase you hear often, meaning, it will happen, when it needs to. But then you also hear, “Hobe na,” with a doleful shake of the head, meaning, it will not happen, no matter how much of a bribe you offer. It’s as if in Calcutta, you resign yourself to a fate that cannot be changed…it has happened this way and will continue to happen this way, because broken as it seems, it still works. Your will has nothing to do with it. So I suppose I have resigned myself to that too. It was easier than getting stressed every time something was not happening in the way I envisaged, which was a lot!

Faith is a funny thing. I need it to survive. It’s arrived at the right moment in a form I can deal with. It is in the form of something logical and rational and resonates with vibrations, in a way I never thought possible. I just need to cultivate it, like a garden. The soil is finally soft and fertile enough to allow that to happen and flowers, I am sure, will bloom.Image


Dear Mr Gove

There is conflict this morning!

As my readers know, this blog is essentially about my experiences about moving to Kolkata/Calcutta, from the UK and starting a completely new life, learning a new life, with my family.

You may, or may not know, that I used to teach in the UK. I’d been in the profession for about ten years, if you don’t count the tutoring I had done before hand and I loved it. Yes, there were challenges and there were struggles and there were ‘dark night of the soul’ and all that. There were grumblings and fumblings, improvisations atop meticulous plans, there were tea and biscuits and strong, strong coffee, just to keep us going and at the end of it all, were the children who received and loved us and put us up there on a pedestal. There was no greater feeling when a child actually learnt what we taught, be it the beauty of words and numbers or the beauty of their own being.

It was an honour to serve, it really was, along with my peers who also were just doing the best that they could. Who still are doing the best that they can. I have nothing but respect for them and the profession.


I’ve abandoned them, my colleagues. I wish I was there to fight with them, alongside them against the monster that is Gove and the present government. I’m watching and following the happenings from a distance as they strike repeatedly at the dreams and the aspirations and the verve and ideals of the teachers who only wanted to do one thing. They wanted, they want their pupils to win, to succeed in being the best that they can possibly be. The standards the government set are not relevant to an individual because an individual is just that! Unique, flawed, scarred with experiences that cannot be accounted for on levels and standardised tests set from ivory towers by men and women who do not know what it is to teach.

Leave the teachers alone!

Watch this video. She says it so beautifully. I had tears in my eyes by the end of it.

It made me realise that I have an opportunity to teach here and I really should just pursue it. Writing will go on. Now the floodgates have opened there is no reason why I should not do both. I’m discovering again…and it’s taken me a while, that this is ALSO something that I need to do.

Barely here nor there and quite firmly here and there.