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Jive Queen

Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1998, Deepa Sarobar came to have lunch with me in Oxford. We went for a walk along the Oxford Canal and came home to Kingston Road for tea and cake.Someone must have obliged with my camera, but I don’t remember who it was. Perhaps it was the lock-keeper, or another walker.

 We would meet in Delhi every year and  twice I went to a Christmas service with Deepa and her husband Mohit- once at the church designed by Lutyens/Baker in the President’s estate and once at the Methodist church on Lodi Road. Afterwards we had a delicious dosa brunch at Sagar in Defence Colony.

Last Saturday Deepa was gone. She had collapsed and died of a viral or bacterial infection.

At the Convent of Jesus and Mary (see post The Convent the Cathedral and the Bourbons  12/2/2012 ), Deepa was one of the “good girls”, whereas I was not. I think she did her homework on time, was respectful to authority and of course never answered back. She was an exceptional dancer, rocking and rolling, jiving and twirling on the lightest feet to the sounds of Elvis and the Beach Boys, which was played on the “radiogram” in the Hall. You need to have an innate sense of fun, apart from rhythm, and my nature is too dour and self-conscious to allow me to follow the music and let down my hair. But Deepa, along with Patsy MacGready and others, danced like she was born to it.

She was a Lall before she married, a cousin to Primila (Kinna), and whose family had converted to Christianity in the 19th century. She remained a committed Christian along with Mohit, who refuses to grieve as he believes she is in a better place and they are sure to be together again. She was a gifted teacher, an eternal optimist, always cheerful and positive in her outlook and I will treasure my memories of her at school. We never thought our youth would come to an end.

Deepa, me and Shasta daisies in 116 Kingston Road, Oxford August 1998.         








Another person who loved to dance also died this week. In the Spring of 2009 I was at one of those confusing junctions where new directions were beckoning, but nothing was clear.

Kate Marney in her garden with Blandine

“Come and join us at our yoga and meditation retreat in Eus and you may find your direction,” urged Kate Marney. My week in the Pyrenees ended with me making an offer on a run down house in the village of Catllar, about 20 minutes walk from Eus. I spent a year and a lot of money knocking down walls, installing bathrooms and a kitchen and reclaiming a garden from stone and rubble.

I stayed with Kate and Robert when I was keeping an eye on the unscrupulous (British) builders and joined her for yoga classes. Robert treated me for some ailment with homeopathic pills and I was thrilled to move into my new home in June 2010.


In the Autumn I accompanied Kate and Robert to Barcelona to see the phenomenon of the famous Indian guru, Amma (see my post Hugging Amma 15/1/2012). I thought she was a commercially motivated godwoman, but was tactful enough not to say it aloud. Alas, Kate and Robert read my thoughts and decided they could not trust me any more. That was the end of my friendship with them. I was so devastated by this turn of events that I decided to sell up and come back to Oxford. But now that Kate has gone I am sorry that I never saw her again, when we might have made up. They also sold up and returned to England and this Christmas Kate was diagnosed with cancer. She did love to dance and to sing.

from this to …

To this!

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