My friend Gail and I chatted in her den this morning. We watched the pouring rain through the patio doors. Indoors it was warm and cosy and I hugged a mug of tea. Gail leafed through my book about India. She reminded me about the time in 2001 when I was preparing for my seven-day visit to Jaipur and Dharamsala.
Out of the blue she told me that my story and what happened to me was a bit like the 1998 film Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltro and John Hannah. In the first few minutes of the film we see the ‘heroine’s’ life split into two. And throughout the rest of the film we are to-ing and fro-ing between what would have happened in each version of her life. Her whole life changes in a split second when, after being sacked from her PR job in London, she misses the Tube-train to take her home. One part of the film follows her catching the train and seeing the consequences of getting home and finding her bloke in bed with another woman – the other part, when she misses the train, shows how she gets mugged before landing a lowly-paid waitressing job.
Gail’s assessment of my life was fascinating. What if I hadn’t been to the fishmonger in Bookham that winter’s morning in 2000 to interview him for a possible story? What if I hadn’t crossed over the A246 Leatherhead Road at the exact time that I did? After all, the Buddhist monks only stood begging for food outside the supermarket until midday when they went off to eat. If I had crossed the road a few minutes later I would have missed them. Timing is everything.
I came home from Gail’s in wondering-mode about 2000, and about our conversation.
What if I had never met Tenzin Josh, never learnt about meditation or the Dalai Lama, never visited Dharamsala, met Tibetan monks or the Tibetan Children’s Village?
Twelve years on from that chance meeting with two Tibetan monks in our village I wonder what I would be doing now…
You have probably heard the word ‘serendipity’…this wonderful flying-visit to India really did happen as a result of a fortunate series of chance meetings between 2000 and 2001. it was a time when my life was going through a period of great change and I had just embarked on a new career as a freelance writer.
My book is a picture story of how a Buddhist monk, a stone merchant and a businessman all led, in their own ways, to my trip, and how I discovered a sense of adventure I never knew I had.
Every Great Journey Starts Somewhere will delight all who love India or have visions of travelling there, are fascinated by unheard-of places and tribal outposts, and will inspire anyone to go with the flow of events.
When opportunities arise, no matter what, grasp them with both hands…as I did.
On this blog I will share some photographs taken in Rajasthan, and Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, and excerpts from my articles that were published on my return to England after the trip.