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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

19 years as an expat

Today, I have not done very much. Today is my eldest's 17th birthday as well as the 19th anniversary of me arriving to live in the North East of England -- permanently.
It is one of those odd coincidences that was pointed out to me when I was in hospital after giving. I had to show my passport for some reason.
The weather in Newcastle 19 years ago was sunny with a few clouds. My first glimpse of Newcastle with its green fields and red brick buildings was so much than I had antcipated. Having spent the summer reading Catherine Cookson, I was expecting smoke hung streets, unrelieved gloom. We walked through Jesmond Dene to an Italian restaurant that my dh knew about and had a very pleasant meal before walking back to our ground floor flat.
The weather in Hexham 17 years ago was pleasant but grey.I woke early and we went for a walk. The hospital decided the time had come and the consultant did not had much to do that afternoon, so I had a c-section. My dh, not realising they would wait for him, drove very quickly over from Durham. Anyway, the operation went well.
I was very intrigued by Indian history at that time and spent the night reading a biography of Ghandi. For some reason I had forgotten a book and this was the first book my dh picked up. It was fairly dry but it kept me company through the night. Unfortunately, my son slept! Something that did not really happen again for a number of years.
With the celebrations of 60 years of India, a number of very good books have been published. One of them -- Alex Von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer is a thoroughly engrossing read. Von Tunzelmann has an excellent eye for the telling anecdote. For example the Nizam of Hyderabad who acquired a reputation as a miser. People thought he used a crumple piece of newspaper as a paperweight, little suspecting it was the legendary Jacob diamond -- twice the size of the Koh-i-noor. Or Sita Devi, India's Walis Simpson who made away to Switzerland with the Baroda pearl carpet. I love the way she contrasts the state of the British and Indian societies in 1577. It is really an eye opener. Her hypothesiss of events makes sense and I think she has the makings of a great popular historian. Think Tom Holland.

1 comment:

India said...

Happy birthday to your son, and happy arrival anniversary to you! I'm so glad you're here!!