Friday, 30 October 2009

A change of direction

So life changes, and you get surprises. This one is the biggest and most difficult challenge of my life.

I am recording and documenting what is going on in an attempt to process and share it.
It needs its own space and you can access it here:

Saturday, 17 October 2009


To see why I have been offline and unable to blog here for a while, have a look at

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Farewell Delhi days and Incredible India!!

Finally the paperwork is complete, visas in passports and tickets being issued so that we can travel tomorrow (Wednesday) - so it is time to bid Delhi farewell. We have been here longer than anticipated and it's been good to spend time here. Memories and impressions of our stay in Delhi include:
Wonderful advertising - this medical outlet really knows how to attract attention!

Creative and appropriate motorcycle headgear..........
and colourful hair styles

Seeing how many passengers you can get into an auto
and peeking through the fancy temple like windows at the back
Cars with fitted curtains as a regular feature.
All kinds of roadside shops and stalls...........

Chaperoned driving instruction - driving lessons where your sisters and aunties can come along too.................
Pigeons having a ball - and a bath on the rooftops after a storm

and cows going about their daily work
Forget pizza delivery - what about pot plant delivery?
...............and my favourite - at the end of each day, as the sun goes down - watching people gather on the grassy islands in the middle of the busy flyovers near Safdarjung!

How on earth they get there is a mystery, but they clearly seem to enjoy relaxing there, oblivious to the lanes of speeding traffic surrounding them! Wonderful - Incredible India Indeed!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

"Warthogs and children have right of way"

proclaims the marvellous sign greeting you in Nairobi National Park, Kenya! And just to prove the point, here is a warthog exercising his right of way!

We had an amazing drive through the park this morning, and I saw zebra for the first time in my life in the wild
as well as giraffe. After so many years in Asia, it was truly amazing to see such different wildlife.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Today is such a historic day for Sri Lanka. For us it was a very hard time to leave.
Before I post some reflections and images from the period as we prepared to depart, here are a couple of "leaving Sri Lanka" images from our last few hours on the island....

Friday, 1 May 2009

Nomads again

That's it - another chapter is about to begin. The Sri Lanka chapter has now closed - we left hot sticky Colombo and made our way to Delhi.

If Colombo was hot and sticky like a sauna, Delhi was just like walking into an oven! Apparently yesterday was the hottest April day recorded for 51 years. Every surface is hot to the touch and when the power goes off (which seems to be happening quite often) it is incredibly hot. It is hard to believe that in the winter months Delhi has a penetrating, damp cold which you feel particularly indoors.

So, what now? Unlike a book, we don't move on immediately to the next chapter. We have to wait for paperwork and other things to be in place so I guess this is some kind of limbo-in-between stage. We will have some days in Delhi taking care of some arrangements - and baking, before we probably head to Siliguri in north Eastern India to spend time with family. While we don't want to have to wait too long in this nomadic, limbo state, this will be a welcome break from the intensity of the past month and wonderful to spend time with family before we move on again.

It will also be a chance to reflect back on our Sri Lanka experience and record the experiences which I have not yet put into words here and share some of the many pictures.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Happy New Year!

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to the South of Sri Lanka where I spent the New Year at the invitation of a close colleague. The trip was a mix of spiritual, ritual and tradition, wildlife and adventure. Each aspect deserves its own write up and of course, there is no shortage of photographs!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Watch this space...........

Change and reflection

I have been quiet here over the past weeks as we approach yet another big change. My work in Sri Lanka will come to an end in 20 days, as will our stay here. Things are taking shape for the next step - the next job, the next country and, I am sure, the next pressure cooker and rice cooker! That is how it has been since we left Nepal.

Then I think back, and realise that it has been nearly 9 years since I left Scotland to come and live and work in Asia. I remember the trepidation as I prepared to leave for Kathmandu in 2000. I had never been to Nepal before. In fact my only visit to Asia had been for a certain milestone birthday trip the previous year when I travelled on the Trans-Siberian railway through Russia, Mongolia and China instead of having a party. So it was a huge step to a new life and new job in a new country, new continent and new organisation. As well as being a risk, it had been a dream for many years. A dream is all very well, but I had no idea if I was able to meet the challenge of the reality.

I arrived in Kathmandu in the middle of a monsoon downpour and the images of the journey from the airport to town are still etched firmly in my mind. Everything seemed brown (a combination of the fading afternoon light, the rain and the mud) as we drove through the narrow streets past tiny shops and cows chewing rubbish . Leaving Kathmandu nearly 6 years later was a huge wrench and it still feels more like home than anywhere else.

Now I am preparing for another departure and arrival, and coincidentally, another milestone age as it is now 10 years since the Trans-Siberian adventure. An adventure which heralded a completely new phase in my personal and professional life and which broadened my horizons beyond any wild expectations I had ever had. I still find it incredible that I have lived and worked in these special places (Nepal, Mongolia, India and Sri Lanka) and visited many more. Now after four years of a relatively nomadic experience we are hoping to be a bit more settled in our next place.

So, watch this space for news and updates...............

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Snowing in Rangoon?

When I was preparing to leave Rangoon/Yangon this week after a short visit, the young man at the hotel reception advised me to be careful. "It is snowing on the road to the airport" he told me.

Snow in Rangoon?? The previous afternoon had been in the mid 30s C and people complaining of the heat, so I was surprised, to say the least, to hear it was snowing.

"Yes", he said, "it was snowing so much I could not see more than a few yards in front of me. I think your flight will be delayed".

Then I twigged - foggy season. Well it is wet, cold and white - so I guess there is not that much difference if you are not used to snow?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

All in a day's work

I often feel that the best part of my work is the visits to the field, working with colleagues and communities and really getting to understand the challenges. I have been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the island, and am treated to some great sights on the road.

Like this line of brand new tri-shaws lined up at the roadside.
and this truck which someone (the coconut shell loader probably) has very carefully arranged with thousands of empty coconut shells

Lush green paddy, coconut and banana plants, in the "wet zone" of the island.
and wet weather in the "dry zone"
All manner of bird and wild life - and late in the afternoon in the East, we are treated to these commuting elephants, apparently on their way home

Not a bad way to balance a hard day's work!

Sunday, 22 February 2009


These images give a good sense of the events on Friday in Colombo. They are not mine (they're from the web) - I was sheltering inside, but had a good enough view of what was going on.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Safe and sound

Thanks for the many messages of concern - I finally got home around 2 am after a pretty scary night in Colombo - too many fireworks for my liking, just hope and pray for others................

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Impressions of Nainital

As promised, here are some pictures from our December visit to Nainital in Uttarakhand, North Western India.

Picturesque Nainital sits at an altitude of nearly 2000 metres and this picture makes it look as if the Lake drains out from the other side of the valley. In fact, you can't easily see from Nainital that there is a neighbouring town at the other end of the Lake .

This is a fascinating hill station, clearly popular with Indian holiday makers, especially honeymoon couples. We saw many couples with their marriage finery, and even sweet, though possibly coincidentally matching sari and fleece sets!

The town is clearly geared up for holiday makers with activities and every kind of stall along the Lakeside - you can eat......

freshly prepared Chaat............
..............fluorescent candy floss as just a few examples.
And you can go boating........... for woolly slippers to wear with flip flops (thongs)............
or watch the cricket.........

or even try .................................

.............SHOOTING!!!! Yes, this is not just a fun activity for young folks, granny can also have a shot (literally) though no prizes even if you burst the balloons set up as targets.
We thoroughly enjoyed our unusual day trip which ended with a pleasant drive back down through the hillside scenery
to Ramnagar to catch the overnight Ranikhet Express back to Delhi.