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My uncle, my auntie!

The closing scene of E.Nesbit’s Railway Children always chokes me. “Oh my Daddy,  my Daddy!” cries Roberta as her father- who has been in prison (falsely accused of spying for the Germans)- steps down to the station platform. I used to experience something close to that intense joy whenever my favourite uncle or aunt appeared […] Read more

Personal Trainer with Soul

I used to snobbishly think that gyms and workouts were for people who didn’t “get” real sport, or the joys of “natural” exercise like hiking and swimming. That is, until I was struck by an unnamed illness/malaise that left me nearly crippled and enfeebled for a year. It all started the day after I returned […] Read more

My mother’s carer

I have been with my 104 year old mother in Delhi. She  lies on her back suspended  between this life and the next. You could call it the waiting room to the next destination. Her face is beautiful as ever, skin luminous even though it is stretched tight. Her limbs are fragile as a bird […] Read more

Mr D.Vasudeva, father of Keshav and grandfather of Siddhartha, founded the wholesale coffee business named Devans in 1962. In his day there was little more than a rough looking dusty godown, or shed, with gunny sacks of coffee berries which Mr Vasudev sourced from Karnataka. His plantation contacts were in the Babagudangiri  and Chipmangalore districts […] Read more

The Bell Inn Langford- made famous by Giles Coren

Giles Coren seems to have assumed the mantle of the late A.A. Gill. His restaurant  reviews-  not always polite, so amusingly bitchy, and sometimes so fulsome that one can only envy his luck and the deep pockets of his newspaper. His latest obsession is churchyards, which lure him to neighbouring pubs, such as The Bell […] Read more

Strawberry Hill Forever

                      Are we in Westminster Abbey, or in a medieval castle?  No, this is the Gothic Wendy house built over a period of 40 years by Horace Walpole. He was the son of Robert Walpole who was effectively Prime Minister throughout the reign of George […] Read more

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, […] Read more

Life Among the Scorpions

LIFE AMONG THE SCORPIONS: Memoirs of a woman in Indian politics (Rupa and Co. 2017, 294 pages, available from Amazon) No Indian woman has written openly about the stresses and hassles of functioning in the political sphere- it would be too embarrassing to mention sexual harassment in a society that purports to revere leaders and […] Read more

A Short History of my Coats

So eagerly looked forward to and so disappointing, Northern winds dash our dreams of  an early Spring and even though the  almond blossom flashes knicker pink as I cycle past the University church and fragile petals on plum trees light up Woodstock Road, those winds are shaking them down like snowflakes. This morning as I […] Read more

Fave caffs (14): Tumbling Bay

Should you crave a plate of something delicious: mushroom stroganoff, broccoli, spinach and pea soup, chickpea, spinach and tomato curry, sweet potato, kale and quinoa cakes with a small crisp salad (my favourite) then seek out the modest little community cafe off the Botley Road. It  lies at the back of a functional looking building  […] Read more