A girls’ guide to India

Way back in the 70s I was lucky enough to spend 29 days in India. So that’s why this book appealed to me. Like the cover the content is amusing and if you read the book in public you may find that people move away from you because most pages will cause your lips to break into a smile. Some people find that disturbing.

The author has travelled extensively in India and has amassed more than a backpack of hints, tips and essential advice which were screaming to be shared with more than a handful of travellers.

This is no dry tome of Nanny-knows-best facts. The book is cleverly divided into bite-sized chunks by letters of the alphabet. I found the book so interesting that I was up to M before I had even drawn breath. I forced myself to set it aside as I was in grave danger of resigning from my job, throwing a piece of string and a hot water bottle into a bag and catching the bus to Heathrow.

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Rehearsals Begin ….

Surprise all around. Seven promising candidates banished from any chance of appearing in this production!

One entrant proved to be more suitable for a part than was immediately obvious and as you can see Mustard Indigo Tie-Dye is on stage for the duration of the performance. My initial thought was that he would make an ideal backstage team (back of the quilt) but his personality was uncrushable. My original favourite was an off-cut with a white background and crisp orange flowers and green leaves but in reality he couldn’t hold the note long enough and was sent home to the scrap bag with his tail between his legs.

Now the problem with Mr Mustard Indigo is that he can’t quite make it to the end of the run and I am frantically preparing some additional pieces to complete the season. This weekend I shall be dyeing and hope that I can create a piece of cloth that will fit in with what has already been sewn together.

Mr Mustard Indigo’s parentage is uncertain. I bought him at a jumble sale and he has lurked in my stash for almost a year. I wonder if he is the result of a union between an indigo vat and a session of rust-dyeing? I suppose I will never know. I am not so adventurous and so this Bank Holiday weekend I will be dunking some unsuspecting mousey bit of fabric in a couple of packets of Dylon.

Strange Words

Make sure you sit facing the door

and try not to hear the clippity-clop of your colleague’s shoes as they walk across the floor.

L I S T EN

one day a woman bought a book

she thought it was slim and contained almost nothing

but as she read she was entranced and couldn’t put it down

she was transported to another land and the magic took such a hold of her that she nearly forgot

to get off her train

“Strange Words” by Patrick Chamoiseau,

and in my edition published by Granta, is a charming little book of Creole stories.

I love the way the shape of the words on the page help to tell the story and draw you in.

The themes are as old as the hills.

A stranger who turns out to be something more than they first appear.

A young beautiful girl moves away from her family and is shown round her new home

but told not to enter some rooms….

I picked up this book with the intention of sending it to my baby sister who is currently writing her first novel which could loosely be classified as “magical realism”. But the book has cast its spell on me and every time I reach for an envelope the book whispers its transfixing incantation,

Keep me, keep me

I am  yours

F  O  R  E  V  E  R

Today I will mostly be …. auditioning fabric …

Now Reading …

Yes, I do know that the Beijing Olympics are in full swing but it is purely coincidental that this book was at the top of my TBR pile. Where did it come from and why did I buy it. Please don’t expect any erudite answer.

Some of you may remember that Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book posted some sort of question about an A-Z of favourite authors. Of course, now that I’ve gone looking for the original post, I can’t find it. Anyway, on a lunchtime jaunt to the newly re-arranged Kingston Oxfam bookshop I decided to find a few authors from the less populated letters of the alphababet. One lucky find was “Kitchen” by Banana Yoshimoto, described as “what it means to be young and frustrated in modern Japan”.

Although written by an author, also beginning with a “Y”, “The Garlic Ballads” by Mo Yan feels as if it is written about another time, rather than just another country. I knew that the book was set in almost contemporary times by references to items such as cars etc and, later on in the book, someone’s father had done something in 1949 but the feeling was of long ago. I was quite shocked to find that the time-frame is 1988 as so many of the behaviours and attitudes are archaic. It may be illegal to beat your young adult daughter but it still appears to be common practice. The chapters are headed with verses from ballads written by a musician about the garlic troubles. Garlic is a very profitable crop and the farmers are encouraged by the government to give much land over to its production but sadly there is a glut and intertwined with more personal stories we learn more about this agricultural situation.

I work for a picture library and over the past few months many images of the amazing Chinese Olympic buildings, the “Bird’s Nest, the water Cube”, have passed before my eyes. The images conjured up by Mo Yan in “The Garlic Ballads” provide a thought-provoking contrast.

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