… I’m ready to go. I head back to Mumbai this evening and will spend a few days there, prior to returning to Goa to write and to work with the great people at Educators’ Trust India. I’m “officially” allowed back into India as of tomorrow (visa restrictions! Are we being punished for the days of the Raj?) and I can’t wait to be back and have my first “lime soda plain” drink.
I’m often asked – “why India?” and it’s a great question. Here’s what I love about India:
… the people, the vibrancy, the history, the culture, the blend of old and new, the colonial and the rural, the scenery, the food.
I find difficult … the poverty, the contrast between the wealth and the poverty, certain elements of Indian behaviour (for example, they hate breaking bad news so will often lie instead …), the fact that I am dish of the day for the mosquito population, the intermittent internet access, the fact that my BlackBerry never ever works in Bangalore – the so-called Silicon Hub of India … etc.
This trip is going to be different, though. This time, I’m working on a book – not my Great Goan Novel, but a new idea; one about which I’m really excited. When I was first made redundant at the end of 2009, a lot of people asked me if I was going to write a book, or suggested that I should. I was offered the chance to ghost-write for a contact, and to collaborate with someone else on their book – but, in both cases, I felt quite strongly that, if I was going to work that hard on a book, I wanted my name in a nice big font on the cover. I also felt that one needs to have a Big Idea in order to write a book and, at that point, I just didn’t have my Big Idea.
But, now I do. The Big Idea has landed. I’m writing a book about women in India, twenty-first century women in their many guises and the current working title is Mother India. I’ve set up a new blog site which I’ll be updating with details of the project and of the women I meet and interview, so feel free to take a look and/or sign up for regular updates. If you’re a film buff, the title of Mother India may sound faintly familiar – and I reference what and why this is over at the book site itself.
I’ve already organised my first three interviews for later this week in Mumbai and have been really encouraged by the positivity with which my requests for interviews have been revceived, and how welcoming everyone has been towards my Big Idea; one woman commented that:
“I’m also thanking you on behalf of all Indian women for taking up a topic such as this, which is not known or understood in totality to the western world. Your project sounds wonderful and I’d be more than happy to help in any way.”
So – goodbye London, namaste Mumbai.