Bangladesh At Home

 NEW YEAR'S DAY 2014  So, 1st January 2014 didn't quite see us winging our way from Glasgow to Dubai to Dhaka but it certainly didn't mean our hearts and thoughts weren't there.  The four of us - Jacqui, Allan, Simon and myself all regrouped in a certain flat in Edinburgh and created our own little world of Bangladesh for the day.  Dressed in our best salwar kameezes and serving (if not cooking, that honour goes to Lazeez, the best take-away in the city!) our version of a Bangladeshi picnic on the sitting room floor, we raised a toast and made our plans for a visit in April.   The travel blockades throughout Bangladesh, the main reason we deferred the trip, ran from December through to the 13th January.  This would have left us two days to get to and from Bhola (down in the Bay of Bengal and an overnight boat trip away) in two...
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To Go Or Not To Go...?

Season's Greetings!I hope you've all had a very happy and peaceful (or exciting, as you wish!) Christmas and are looking forward to the adventure of 2014.For the last 48 hours, this little corner of Edinburgh has been a hotbed of international discussion and negotiation as we've followed events in the lead up to Sunday's forthcoming elections in Bangladesh - and wondered if our (Jacqui, Allan, Simon and myself) New Year's trip there can, realistically, go ahead...The final unanimous decision was reached last night - Simon's contribution pulling it all together with, 'if we go to Bangladesh, we will go to Bangladesh.  If we stay at home we will stay at home' - when we decided, with regret, that it would be sensible to postpone the visit until later in the year.(Important Note: Despite evil rumour-mongering, this is nothing to do with the fact that Jacqui and I tried on our trusty...
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Four Novelists and a Narrator

‘Everyone has a novel in them’.  How many times have we heard that said?  It’s possible.  Probable, even.  The world is full of the blissfully ignorant, who will write their novel ‘one day’ (when they have time) and the woefully knowledgeable, who have a drawer full of rejections. To write a novel is to find oneself in a gleefully negative community.  Head-shakes and rueful smiles precede a useful little sound bite: ‘who do you know (have slept with/can blackmail/preferably all three) in the publishing business?’ or ‘JK Rowling had 3 million rejections, you know’ or ‘have you thought of bee-keeping instead? Fewer stings. Ha ha.’At the other end of the scale is the urban myth of the bored bricklayer (brain-surgeon/dog-breeder) who wrote a thriller during a wet weekend in Wales and got a £billion advance and a 6-book deal.So should the Regular Joseph/ine give up now? Of course not.  And I...
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Ten reasons to join a creative writing class...

Thanks to an off the cuff remark by one of the participants in my Thursday morning writing class, I came up with a whole host of potential ice-breakers last week.  I'm always on the look out for new 'warm up' writing exercises that are fun, vaguely useful and never reminiscent of terrible office team-building days.The man I will call Mr H (in case he's too modest to own his ideas here...) mentioned he had once written - for creative, not personal reasons, you understand - a list of 'Five Reasons to Date Oneself'.*  This started the cogs turning and I took the idea if  not the content to another writing group, twisted it to make it as convoluted as possible and asked them to create a list of things they would write Ten Reasons  about.  If it came from personal experience, all the better. Yes, it did take half the class to explain...
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Images From Bhola

 What's the best way to beat the blues?  You know: the end of the summer, the increasingly dark mornings and shorter evenings, a new term's work already piling up...   Well, you sit down and peruse the Emirates website and the next minute find your fingers are compelled to book flights for Bangladesh!  January 2014, Bhola (and who knows where else?) here we come. With that in mind, and given your patience at my various pontifications over the last few months, I thought I'd simply post a few random snaps of the children and young people currently living in Bhola. Here they are -    Ahsan picking the carrots he's grown on our land in ValumiaBoys relaxing on the roof - where they are building the parapet The girls on a break from the tailoring building stop to chatSchool children practising for Independence Day Parade Salina giving Rosina treatment  in the new physio room The boys getting a lesson in sewing and mending their...
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