Sunday, 20 December 2015

And so it's Christmas ...

I'm astonished any of you have time to drop into blogland at the moment.

And I'm certainly not going to expect you to reflect on anything deep and meaningful. Nor regale you with a list of all the wonderful things I've done this year; that my beautiful, clever children and grandchildren have done; nor add - as an afterthought - good wishes for your Christmas and New Year.

Instead I shall simply suggest that we all take a deep breath, notice the winter solstice and breathe a prayer to whatever god makes sense to you, light candles for ourselves and for all those who might need a little help along the way, and then open a bottle of whatever takes your fancy.

Cheers ... I'll be back in the New Year.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

After the Earthquake - Over the Hill Goes Back to Nepal!!

'Tis done - thanks to some wonderfully supportive people who have read, edited, made me coffee etc along the way. Without them I'd still be at the head-scratching stage. You all know who you are - I am deeply grateful to every one of you.

Here, for those who have no idea what this book is about, is the blurb:

JO CARROLL hesitated before returning to Nepal after the earthquake. Arriving as a tourist when local people were in such need felt an intrusion.

Not at all, Tika told her. We want you to come. We need you to come.
Within hours of arriving she saw just how right he was. Nepal, it seems, has been forgotten since the journalists left with their pictures of destruction. But the welcome is as warm as it has ever been.
Even from the crocodiles …
All profits from this book are contributing to rebuilding one house. We can’t rebuild a city – but we can, and will, provide for one family.

Thank you all for your patience and support.

And here (hurrah) is the link to buy the book.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

After the Earthquake - the first bit.

It's almost here - After the Earthquake - my little ebook about Nepal. I know I said that last week, but now it's nail-biting time. The copy edits should be back any day now.

So, while we're waiting, here is the beginning:

It was a Saturday morning in April. I rolled over, half asleep, to turn on my radio and listen to the News.
Early accounts were disorganised. An earthquake had rocked Kathmandu. In the foolish light of dawn I believed it was nothing more than the earth grumbling, far beneath the city. But, as I carried on listening, the full devastation became clearer. I made tea and turned on the television. All those glorious temples, reduced to rubble. Families wept in the streets, for themselves, and for the thousands who had died. Villages flattened. Avalanches crashing down the mountains, taking tents and trekkers with them.
I felt as if I were drowning in helplessness. It was hard to eat, to sleep in my warm bed, knowing so many shivered in tents in the parks of Kathmandu, and who knew how many were searching for shelter in the mountains.
What of my friends? Where was Tika? Shobha? Bhadra? Ajay and Upama? Those who had kept me safe and laughing since my first visit to Nepal nearly fifteen years ago. It was a few days before I knew that they were all safe, but they were frightened. The ground hadn’t stopped quivering. My feeble efforts to support them were not enough.

Now, five months later, I’m going back to Nepal. I can’t abandon them, these friends of mine, considering all they’ve been through.
We’ve all seen those after-the-earthquake pictures: the ruins in Durbar Square, temples where the faithful once rubbed shoulders with tourists wielding selfie-sticks; where incense wafted across crowded streets and made my eyes water. We’ve read of villages flattened; of families facing the ravages of the monsoon with nothing but a bit of borrowed tin above their heads. We’ve read of avalanches and death in the mountains.
Yet – I confess – I’ve been reluctant to go back. Even now, in the sterility of the Departure Lounge at Heathrow Airport, I have misgivings. I will not exploit the needy, nor gawp at their misfortune. I’ll not gaze at people living in wretched tents. There is something uncomfortable about travelling from the comfort and safety of my western home to a country where the needs are so huge. Might I be seen as patronising? What use could I be? I can’t rebuild a home. I can’t even cook something edible over a fire. I can play with children – surely scant consolation for people who have lost everything.
But Tika has invited me. I’ve known him since my first visit here. He has guided me through an adventure or two in the past. We want to see you, he said. Stay in our home, he said. It is enough to stifle my qualms. Besides, there is no resisting Tika.