I went to India, and found some words

Hey, come back here with me a minute. All the way back here, to October 2008. A strange world, before One Direction, Sherlock and the iPhone 3GS. I’ve been married six months, a milestone twice over. First, thanks to Timothy’s two years in South Africa, we’ve only just now spent as much time together in the same country as we’ve been together apart. This is a fact that makes us sound weirder than we really are (I hope). And second, I’ve just been sent to India for a month, and I am frightened to death about it. This is a fact that makes me sound lamer than I really…oh no wait, never mind.

It’s an opportunity I can’t turn down, so I don’t. My mouth falls open when I get there, and doesn’t close for weeks. I’m sat in a huge 4×4, gaping out of the window at two parents and three, yes count them three small children all on the same motorbike. The motorbike-for-five is swerving hypnotisingly close to us – I can see the breeze ruffling the tiniest boy’s hair – and I notice I’m gripping my seatbelt so that my hands have turned into claws. I think, Tim would never believe this. I should write it down.

When I get to my hotel room I leave the unpacked suitcase where it is, and open a fresh Word document. Something about a clean piece of paper and a pen makes me freeze – I can never find the right word first time, and I’m obsessed with finding exactly the right word – but I look at the empty white screen with a keyboard under my hands to fill it, and it feels like there are stories in my fingers and a world here for my making. I haven’t written anything for fun since high school, unless you count The Ballad of the Tiny Ironing Board. I’ve forgotten what it does to my insides.

I write long, indignant, amazed, colourful essays from Chennai the whole time I’m there. Somewhere during that time it dawns on me that this will not be something I can easily stop. When I get home, I start a blog.


I reread my Indian travelogue last night. It’s pretty painful in places – I had yet to realise that it’s possible to be funny without being grumpy and sarcastic, though I suppose anything you write in your early twenties comes with a side-order of hideous embarrassment – but I haven’t edited it. All the time since I haven’t been able to stop looking for stories. They might be tin-pot little stories that never go anywhere except here, and I might be hideously embarrassed by them in years to come, but they feel like worlds for my making. And I found them first in a fresh Word document, a hotel room in Chennai, a tiny boy on a motorbike about to bang on my window.

This is what I believe so fiercely I could shake a fist at it: find what you love. Do what you love. Start something that does things to your insides. You have worlds to make and stories to tell, and I for one would love to see them.

Three things:

what have you always wanted to do? Do tell me, and leave your blog address below if you have one.

I’m on cupcake mascara today, talking about why I started blogging. I suppose this is the long version.

And my India diaries start here. Have a look, and we can laugh at how grumpy and pretentious I am together.

10 thoughts on “I went to India, and found some words

  1. There are lots of things I’ve always wanted to do…perhaps the best answer is to say that I’ve always wanted to not have to choose just one thing to do with myself. I’d love to get back to my music, to work in a museum again, have a big house to decorate, take the family travelling…all sorts.


  2. I’ve wanted to do a lot of things. Like live in London, bungee jump, become a correspondent for discovery or such channel, become an undercover agent etc πŸ˜€ I’m nothing if not versatile πŸ˜‰
    You know my blog

  3. I have always wanted to be the type of person to spontaneously travel and visit caves and treasures. But I am happy where I am.


    • Sounds like the best of both worlds! Things to aim for and happiness where you are right now.

      I know what you mean about the travel – I still have a little idea that I’d like to move my family abroad for a couple of years. I don’t know if I’d ever dare do it, though. Going on holiday is hassle enough!

  4. Pingback: The year of the wave | make a long story short

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