Thursday, 30 April 2015

Friendship and writing

Sitting waiting at the airport for a plane to take off is the last place you expect to make a new friend. But that's exactly what happened. A nice couple waiting at the same gate smiled in a friendly way and we got talking, the women first, of course! Within a few minutes we knew there was a special bond. Talking about the holidays we were looking forward to and then finding so many things in common in that short space of time was an eye opener for me. Often the fellow travellers are ships that pass in the night, literally. We were not even heading to the same place, just waiting for our respective flights to take off.  We exchanged emails and said our goodbyes.

FB kept our friendship alive. Like every relationship in life, it is a question of give and take, mutual respect and finding that commonality. This trip to Buffalo, I messaged her and she arrived the very next day, driving over 40 miles just to meet up, have a coffee. Finding friends and retaining them is important to me. When you meet creative people who go that extra mile, it makes life so much better. Cheers to my friend.

The Indian diaspora are very friendly and hospitable in Buffalo. As a small group here , just over a thousand families, there is so much co operation and help within the community that is extended to all. For me that is another great link in this city. My dual heritage helps in forging great connections in all parts of the world.

Buffalo NY is familiar to me now. This is my fifth trip. I came to see my daughter at the University in 2009, then both my husband and I came again in 2010 for her graduation. Followed in 2013 by her wedding here, then again 2014 for an extended stay of five weeks when we also visited our close friends in the West Coast.

During my last visit I decided to taste the literary scene in Buffalo. There is so much going on. My visit to Just Buffalo Lit Centre's writing group chaired by Professor G.E Ross was wonderfully useful. The writing here is so not much different to the one in Glasgow, language differences apart, the themes that I saw were interesting mix of diverse voices and topics that were essentially dealing with universal themes. I would like to open up my own ideas to this new experience of crossing over the pond and looking at it from an Indo- Scot point of view. The first was the poem about Glasgow and Buffalo but lots more themes are forming in my mind and I wish I could write something that is worthy when I am here. I was hoping to find more of a Scottish connection here but Buffalo has very little of that.I'll keep looking!

I am lucky that I am near a beautiful Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Amherst. Lots of books to browse and a perfect cafe to sit and write if I so wish, as I  watch the world go by.  I am blessed indeed.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Buffalo and Glasgow - a poem

When I was in Buffalo NY last year I could not fail to see the similarity between the two great cities. Old industries dying and leaving the second cities dying and crumbling. This poem flowed out as easy as pie. Hope you all like it too.


                 Two cities
The two could be twinned, history so familiar
Niagara River, and Erie Canal made this city
As grain silos rose up in the sky, men worked hard
To get the grain ashore, milled and built steel.
The city of light, the Niagara Falls harnessed
To serve mankind, in all its glory and awe
The people of all colours sweated their labours
To make this proud city, aglow, resplendent.
Today, bleak in recession hit-West
Buffalo tries harder, the University is
A blessing, the young indebted for a future
Wait for the day, for the sun to rise again.
Glasgow, a proud second city, industries of coal
Steel and ships, the Queen’s ships built on River Clyde
Men and women of steel who gave of their lives
Working hard, skills of a lifetime cherished.
But the recession-hit world looks askance
As the unemployed youth grows and despairs that
The shipyards no longer strikes iron, jobs dwindle
The two cities twinned in hope, for a brighter tomorrow.

T

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Girl on a Plane, WBN and British Indian Awards 2015



A happy update on that missing passport! As I was getting out of the shower, yesterday, I heard a faint knock on the door. By the time I was decent and opened the door, no one was out there. I rushed over to the window and saw a huge UPS van and a young guy was just getting the driver's seat. I hollered over, 'hey did you have something for me?' He said, 'yep, left it at the door.' It was the passport. I nearly missed it there in my excitement! Am I glad and relieved?? I really can't put that feeling into words.



Back in Glasgow, I should have been reading tonight at the William Patrick Library for World Book Night. I had it all prepared, even the slides to go with the presentation. The library had ordered copies of my books, too. I hate to let people down. Once I commit to something I keep to it, unless I am really ill. Luckily that has not happened so far, touch wood! Unfortunately I had to fly in to NY for family reasons and I am missing the WBN event. I do hope it goes well.I see young poet Kate Tough and Alison Morton the Reader in Residence, are doing the honours and the Kirkintilloch Choir are singing too. Music, free books, book readings, what more does one need for a fine evening?
That bedroom looks just so tempting!


British Indian Awards is another glamorous, high profile event at Chateau Impeny Hotel, this Friday the 25th. I was thrilled to hear that I am one of the finalist in the Arts and Culture Awareness category. I'll miss that wonderful event too. It would have been great to wear a silk sari and network with the great and good, British Indians from all walks of life who have served UK giving of their best. The venue looks amazing, a spa hotel set in Droitwich, an area I have never been to, near Birmingham. Well,  maybe I'll get there one day.

Here I am in Buffalo, once a second city of New York State, its crumbling grandeur, a reflection of its glory days. This City of Light  has so much in common with Glasgow that a poem came easily to pen. Here it is for you.

Two cities


The two could be twinned, history so familiar
Niagara River, and Erie Canal made this city
As grain silos rose up in the sky, men worked hard
To get the grain ashore, milled and built steel.
The city of light, the Niagara Falls harnessed
To serve mankind, in all its glory and awe
The people of all colours sweated their labours
To make this proud city, aglow, resplendent.
Today, bleak in recession hit-West
Buffalo tries harder, the University is
A blessing, the young indebted for a future
Wait for the day, for the sun to rise again.
Glasgow, a proud second city, industries of coal
Steel and ships, the Queen’s ships built on River Clyde
Men and women of steel who gave of their lives
Working hard, skills of a lifetime cherished.
But the recession-hit world looks askance
As the unemployed youth grows and despairs that
The shipyards no longer strikes iron, jobs dwindle, and
The two cities twinned in hope, for a brighter tomorrow.


Enjoy your spring. It is snowing here in Buffalo! 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Girl on a Plane



Wednesday 15th April, a day after the Tamil New Year, I woke up bright and happy!  Well, not really full of the cold and flu to travel to Buffalo NY dreading the flight and the full 12 hours ‘on the road’, including the 2 hour layover at Newark. Flight was fine; in fact a better one to Newark than the jam packed one to JFK last year. Wider seats, no one next to me, I could cough away to my comfort and style! I could spread my newspaper, books etc and the girl at the window seat was friendly enough and we shared the middle seat to suit us both. The film was not uploading, vaguely wanted to see Reese Witherspoon in ‘The Wild’ but felt sleepy most of the time.

Arrived at Newark on time. Fabulous sunshine yay! This was good! Then I came to the Immigration queue! Well, Newark Liberty International, to have three, yes three immigration agents for a queue that seemed to be around 500 was not smart! Waited patiently, as security guys hollered at people looking at their cell phones. NO CELL PHONES. Sheepish grins and cell phones back in pockets, bags etc. A couple of ladies beside me were getting jittery like me. Connecting flight to catch. They had 3 hour layover, me just short of two. Meanwhile each person was photographed, fingers, thumbs in both hands screened and questions about their reasons to visit USA. Nearly gave up on making the flight to Buffalo when a kindly security woman saw sense and diverted a few of us nearly tearing up to the  three immigration  agents who were processing the US CITIZENS and Permanent Residents only and were sat twiddling their thumbs. We rushed over and luckily for us another huge passenger load arrived to join the other 300 odd waiting in the first queue. Got myself processed, 20 minutes to the next flight, terminal miles away, needed to take a train 4 minutes between each one! Ran across to the domestic terminal, made it, I thought!

At the security gate I was asked for my boarding pass and the passport. Boarding pass, yes, but couldn't find my passport anywhere. Mad search through all bags, no luck! Guy seeing me cry gets sympathetic and lets me in. Shoes off, get TSA checked boarded plane, worried sick about the passport. Arrive at Buffalo, daughter is looking at a babbling mum who is not quite all there, with flu/cold, eyes streaming in more ways than one and blabbering about lost passport. Waiting at the baggage carousel, to find that suitcase has not made it from Newark but assured by United that the bag will be on the next flight and will be delivered home.

What is the update on the lost passport? Like the book the Girl on the Train, you will have to wait and see. I have called every phone number that I can lay my hands on. Finally, I got through to a very kind gentleman on the Customs and Immigration desk at Newark. He had my passport and has promised to mail it to me. That was last Thursday, 17th April. As of today 22 April and no sign yet of the missing passport.


Hope you enjoyed the ‘journey’ with me.

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