Healing Tree Network – our brand new initiative

Reblogging this to spread the word on behalf of the fantastic Mythri Speaks blog….

All of us know at least one woman suffering from menstrual pain or menstrual disorders. So much so, that we have come to think of it as normal. Some of us know those who suffer from the side-effect…

Source: Healing Tree Network – our brand new initiative


A New Kidney for Filu – Reunited! an update


Regular readers of my blog will know of my campaign to help my friend Filu get a new kidney. If you haven’t heard about it you can read more here:



Towards the end of last year Filu finally found a matching donor after many years of waiting and painful dialysis and had her operation. I went to visit her at the end of last year to see how she is getting on and give her the remainder of the funds raised.

I opted against my original idea of the biggest bunch of flowers ever as she is under strict instructions from the doctor- everything has to be sterile and Filu has to wear a mask and limit her interactions with the outside world for several months to avoid infection while her body heals. Luckily she has her mother (pictured far left) taking care of her along with her beautiful daughter.

The following week after my visit Filu had another small operation and may have several more follow ups post surgery. She is on a huge cocktail of different pills and will have to take medicine for the rest of her life so her body doesn’t reject her kidney. However she was full of positive spirit and determination as always and we were very happy to be reunited (and our daughters also!) She told me how strange and wonderful it feels to experience her new kidney beginning to work and how she thanks God (she is Catholic) for giving her a new chance in life. I am once again in awe of her courage and humility and thankful to all the people who helped her.

I am keeping my campaign running and will continue to help as much as I can to raise funds to pay for her medication, especially in these months where she is unable to work doing her job teaching children. I am also seeking details for any charities and NGOs who may be able to help with the long term costs of her medication. Please take a look at my Fundrazr campaign and if you are unable to donate you can always help by sharing on social media or reblogging. Thanks!



A new Kidney for my Friend in India

Well it has been a long old time since I have written a blog and this isn’t so much a blog but an appeal to help me help someone very special.


My friend Filu and her daughter have been wonderful and kind friends to me and now Filu needs a new kidney I want to help her back.

I met Filu through her sister when I moved to Mumbai with my daughter for work. She lost both her kidney’s due to illness and has been having pianful dialysis several times a week for several years whilst working and saving hard in the hope that one day she will be able to get a new kidney.

In India there is no NHS and no help for seriously ill women like Filu. While she has saved hard she only has half the money she needs for the operation.

I want to help my friend and raise the remaining funds for her operation and give her and her daughter hope for the future.

She has helped me so much with my own daughter when I needed help as a single working mum alone in a foreign counrty. She teaches children from her one room home in Mumbai and works so hard looking after people – I think she deserves to be looked after also!

£3000 is not a huge amount of money here in England but in India that can amount to years of wages. Please dontate and share – in my friend’s case it really is a case of life and death!

If you can help please click the link below – even if you are unable to donate sharing this link on social media will help (and cost you nothing!) Fellow bloggers please re-blog – together we can make a difference!

Thanks in advance!


Silencing “India’s Daughter”

I wanted to write an article on this subject, but after reading this excellent article by Carissa I decided to reblog this instead! Please read and share. Happy International Women’s day!

Everyday Asia

Quickly before yet another version of India’s Daughter was blocked, I watched the documentary lest I be tempted to comment on something without actually seeing it.

I needn’t have panicked I’d miss the opportunity… like rabbits, as soon as one is blocked, another link pops out of another YouTube hole.

Banning "India's Daughter" on YouTube Banning “India’s Daughter” on YouTube

Social media and mass media alike are abuzz with reactions to the decision to not permit showing the BBC “India’s Daughter” documentary in India. And catapulted its viewing via YouTube in a way a mere airing on BBC TV alone could never have accomplished.

This comes shortly after banning beef consumption in Maharashtra. Yup…  eat beef and you can land in jail for 5 years.

Why is that relevant to India’s Daughter?

Well, if you brutally gang-rape and murder a woman when almost 18 years, that’s a 3 year sentence. Akshay Thakur will be out in December this year… hmm… hard not…

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The Sights and Sounds of Mumbai (part 1)


If you live in a city then you will almost certainly have come across the experience of living such a hectic life that you never have time to enjoy all of the things your hometown is so famed for – the sights and sounds and wonders that tourists flock to every day but to you in your cloud of daily commute and post-office urge to spend as much time glued to the sofa with your feet up, are all but invisible. 

When I finally made it to the National Park on the edge of Borivalli, I felt ashamed that I had lived so close for so long and not spent every second I could exploring every inch of this remarkable oasis place.

My good friends form England had come to visit, and being newly unemployed I had time to cram in as much tourist action as I could. Armed with google I set about the task of becoming a tourist in the city I had made my home and investigate the premier sight-seeing destinations. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park was top of my must-see list and after a short auto ride we found ourselves at its unassuming gates, boarding a bus bound for the famous Kanheri Caves.Image

There is more than a hundred of these caves to explore, built by the Buddhist monks who lived and worshipped there. Most of the caves are living quarters and while impressive are transcended by the first few congregational halls, flanked by carved statues that my young daughter was absolutely terrified of until she realised she could play the game of “statue” with them! 


So there we were, taking pictures, admiring the artistry and generally soaking up the timeless wonder of the place when an army of school-girls turned up screaming at the top of their voices as if Bollywood Star Shah Rukh was doing a strip tease just for them. What had got them all so excited? My daughter! If she hadn’t enjoyed it so much being passed around the near hysterical teenagers, having photos posed with and kissed and cooed over, I would have given them all a verbal slap round the face for scaring the crap out of me. However, I didn’t have the heart to ruin their fun. Even after all the time i have spent in India it still weirds me out that a blond curly haired toddler can produce such a reaction, even in full grown adults – I mean my daughter is cute don’t get me wrong, but she is a kid like any other. I worry about what it will be like when she goes back to the UK and she is no longer a public novelty and centre of attention, and conversely what the attention will do to her if we remain in India and she grows up with the stares and curiosity that I have become accustomed to and grown a naturally thick skin over.


Anyway other highlights of this day out included lotus flower covered lakesand duck shaped pedal boats, a really rubbish safari where we got to see some tigers basking in a dirty pond in an oversize cage (hmmmm) and some very friendly monkeys swinging through simply stunning scenery – I will let the photos speak for themselves but bear in mind nothing can do this place justice until you experience it for yourself – I would recommend just after monsoon when it will be a green tropical paradise!






The Life of the Unemployed and my Five Seconds of Fame


So it has been a week or so since I left my job and the novelty is fast wearing off. At first I was overjoyed at the quality time with my daughter – we’ve been to malls, done soft play and ice-cream, visited friends in Dadar and paddled in dubious water on dirty beaches while drinking Gola made with equally dubious ice,  drank an unfeasible amount of masala chai and cheap Indian red wine and watched far too much Romedy Now channel under the fan on full power in the balmy evenings sweating while the weather keeps on and on getting hotter and hotter.

You can only live this life for so long so I was delighted when my first and most unexpected freelance job came up, on very much the opposite side of the mixing desk to what I’m used to. I made my vocal Indian film debut doing a voiceover dub for a pre-independence historical biography about a famous Marathi political leader named Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was famous for reviving the Ganesh festival or Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav and making it a public event, bringing together communities in celebration during a time of oppression – an act which earned him the title of “Father of the Indian unrest” given by the colonial authorities. All good revolutionary stuff – here is a trailer for the movie (! hope this is the right one! Can’t be that many movies about this so it must be!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLvVD0lyOqw

Anyways, if you happen to watch it – I was the voice of the wife of a soldier who got shot in some carriage thing. Most of the colonial characters in the film were played by Russian actors, of which there seem to be an abundance of, much like the tourists in Goa. It was rather surreal listening to the pre-dubbed version!

My one liner in full theatrical hysterics took a few hours of sitting around in the studio, doing some retakes and then some when the director turned up. Clad in white with obligatory shades and just a little bit sweaty he was just like I imagined a bollywood director to look like but down to earth and pretty cucumber cool. The lovely dubbing supervisor whose equally lovely sister I had her sister to thank for the job was a picture of zen patience. The sexy studio was  a treat to see (being the audio geek that I am) and the whole experience was generally pretty damn exciting. Maybe I should change careers and become a Bollywood starlet (might have to work on my Hindi and my waistline though!)

Backwards to Go Forwards

Well it’s been a while, no excuses really just been caught up in life and sometimes events are best blogged about sometime after they happen, especially when life changing and personal. 

Anyway, away with being cryptic – this post is most definitely being written from grey, windy England. I will publish the story of how I came to end up back here in the coming week or two, but to start you off here is a double whammy of posts beginning where I left off in Mumbai….

It’s a little different here…. (part two)

Tip number one for working in events in India: Take any time you are given for something to be done or to start and add a minimum of two – five hours to that time to get the actual start/completion time!

I still love my job regardless and this is something I have become accustomed to for some time now working here. As a result I hope I have become a more patient and zen person. Maybe I am achieving enlightenment the hard way compared to the many backpackers who come to India seeking to ‘find themselves’ by drinking bang lassis on a beach during their gap years, but then I’ve never been that conventional!
Last week’s shows were no exception to this elastic time modal and coupled with the added thrill of being factory and office inaugurations, I was particularly overjoyed to be at work, with no drinking water or toilet, doing absolutely nothing, for hours and hours, for all intents and purposes, no good reason. The icing on this deliciously corporate cake was the person-in-charge, on returning from their dinner, asking why on earth we were still at the venue at sometime-past midnight. Seemingly they had forgotten that they had asked us to stay there before leaving for their evening meal! Oh how we laughed…
Still my sense of zen won through and I was all smiles and professionalism at my 5am start the next morning, even when the sound for video feed that we’d spent three hours the day before (after all our work was finished) waiting for, wasn’t used at all.
Tip number two (in case my boss is inadvertently reading!) – if you want to keep your job never, ever, ever point tip number one out to the client, let alone highlight the need for more than three hours sleep at night in order to resemble a human being.
Well there you go, sorry techie rant over.
However, the whole experience happened to be worth it in the end, when our excursion out of Mumbai to the barren industrial estates of Pune and beyond led us on our return journey past one of the most beautiful temples I have ever had the privilege to visit. In one last test of endurance we climbed no less than three-hundred steps to get to this yellow tikka dusted gem of a temple

Jejuri Khandoba Temple near Sasvad

I hope that your patience and time, dear readers in reading my rant was also worth it in order to see these photos of a truly magical place with an equally wondrous view that went on forever:

Goodbye Pani Puri Goodbye Work!


So this week I said goodbye to two things that have been a big part of my life the past six months. I love Pani Puri. I have been warned countless times that the pani in the puri could be bad and make me sick and I don’t regret not listening to those warnings – I’ve eaten tonnes of the stuff and not got sick…until now. It has been my comfort food on my way home from work, or shopping – my treat that would brighten a crappy day. Sometimes I would eat it wrong and end up with the pani all down my front, or the puri would just explode the wrong way in my mouth and go down my throat making my eyes water (a bit like when you get lemonade bubbles up your nose). “Too spicy?” The Pani-puri vendor would ask while other sniggered beside me at the foreigner failing miserably at eating their street food with any kind of grace. I didn’t care because I just loved the stuff so much.

Conversely my job would also make me cry sometimes and also produce bemused looks from the entirely Indian crew as they watched me try to fit in. Sometimes I would do stuff wrong and look silly there also. Once again however, I loved it so much it was all worth it.

Now it is time to say good-bye to the love affairs that were Pani-puri and my job. The gripping stomach cramps and diarrhoea produced by my last encounter with pani-puri are not something I ever intend to repeat. The six day week never seeing my daughter coupled with nineteen hour shifts for no good reason other than “that is just the way things are in India, stop hoping that you can change things for the better” just have to end for the sake of my health and sanity and the benefit of my family.

Saying that I’m sure I could be tempted to break both of those resolutions if the right pani-puri or job came along….


Portraits of Bombay and Beyond (part 1)

Normally I write a blog about being an ex-pat living and working in Mumbai. Today I am giving you a photography blog for a change to my usual ranting. Here are some portraits of some of the amazing people we’ve met or just spotted in this wonderful country. I hope you enjoy them…


















The Freedom to be Funny In India (and some lovely Art Deco)

ImageSitting in the manager’s office of the stunning Art Deco Liberty Cinema flicking through the actual original programme from the 1947 opening I could hardly contain my excitement – this was a real treat! The elderly but spritely owner Mr Nazir Hoosein was a delight to talk to – sharing with us the rich historical tapestry of the building – it’s triumphant marathon runs of Bollywood Blockbusters and star studded premieres, followed by a sad decline in business as the multiplexes opened in soulless shopping malls and the clientele shifted downmarket, fouling the once plush red carpet with chewing gum and tobacco spit.  It was this transposition that had led to my purpose for being there today – the cinema had turned it’s back on commercial film screenings, extended it’s stage, treated its walls to improve its acoustics and now has become a top venue for shows and events, such as the comedy show I was working on the techincals of that day.

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Aptly named “Liberty” after the declaration of Indian Independence that coincided with its birth, the building stands proud and opulent, capturing with its architecture the sense of freedom and optimism that marked the era. Little did we know, a maverick energy was to once again to surge through its corridors and fill the auditorium that very next day.

The Royal Turds is a satirical Bollywood award show by premiere comedy collective All India Bakchod. To be honest I knew pretty much nothing about the actors, films, politicians and singers they were joking about, but still found them to be very funny so I guess you can take that to be a credit to Indian comedy. Some of the comedians kindly explained some of the jokes to me in the wings in between acts and were generally a very nice bunch to fit microphones onto. So when I came backstage on the second day to fiddle around with the guys belts and packs and turn them on before the show I was most upset on their behalf to find various worried looking production guys talking with them about whether they should pull the show and even all future performances!

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It turned out that an email with a distinctly terrorist tone had been sent to them protesting at their jokes about political parties and various gods and warning them to “expect the worst at today’s show” as a consequence! I asked one of them who it was they had pissed off – apparently it wasn’t too bad – a nutty right wing religious fringe group (as opposed to I guess, any important or influential politicians).  Once the safety of the audience had been established, a gaggle of police with sticks had installed themselves outside the building and anything too controversial was quickly edited from the script the show went on as planned. It opened with a big projected screenshot of the email and a speech from the comedians about how they were going to perform their art anyway and if anyone didn’t like it they could bloody well leave now! The audience cheered accordingly.

It all made me feel very lucky to be British – as I got scolded for rather smugly pointing out – we can take the piss out of whomever we want to in the UK and not have to worry about crazies with guns and  bandanas! I asked one of the comedians if he had experienced such threats or political/religious censorship before – apparently most Indian comedians choose to stay away from politics and religion for just these reasons (i.e. wanting to keep all their arms and legs intact!) and yes there had been an incident of being forced by the powers that be to apologize for a political joke on stage before. While incidents like this weren’t common, he expected this not to be the last – if you want a ‘safe’ career in Indian comedy you had better just stick to good old-fashioned racism and sexism jokes!

Once again I had a joke made about me onstage by Tanmay Bhat (highly embarrassing but definitely an honour!) – “This is Caroline – she’s British – nice to see she is now working for us!” rather appropriate for the Liberty Cinema!


You can find out more about the very funny All India Bakchod here:



Air conditioning, Indian Celebs and Massive Roaches!


So this week I have mainly been doing shows in the NCPA. It has been pretty nice to be in an auditorium actually built for theatre with some kind of half decent acoustics. The salubrious surroundings were much more akin to the venues I’m used to in Europe- clean, carpeted, modern, proper rigging as opposed to scaff towers ‘leveled’ using piles of sand (!) In typical Indian style though the air conditioning was turned up to arctic. All the Indians swanning around in short sleeves were casting bemused looks in the direction of the one foreigner in the building huddled in the corner wearing three jumpers and a wooly hat!

I just can’t take the cold- it is one of the main reasons I don’t live in England in the winter, but here freezing your arse off is a desirable state of being. I wonder how long the novelty would last though if any of them actually experienced the reality of the UK climate. Cold in short bursts can be refreshing and snow with it’s childhood snowman building associations enchanting, but the endless daily trudge of being blown into work by an icy wind interlaced with freezing sleet or being able to see your breath inside your house is basically traumatising and there is nothing romantic or cozy about that version of cold. Sitting for hours on end shivering under the glacial blast of the NCPA AC conjured up such images for me and I was pleased when the venue filled with people raising the temperature a few vital degrees enough to remove my rather attractive wooly hat which I’m told along with my stagehand black clothing made me look a burglar!

And so entered the stage Shaan – probably India’s most famous Bollywood singer – before tonight I shamefully had absolutely no idea who he was – a fact that like my aversion to the cold shocked my Indian colleagues. Surprisingly vertically challenged (!) with a winning smile permanently superglued to his face he entertained the predominantly middle aged and exclusively damn rich audience for around two and a half hours – still not quite sure about the fact he was reading some of his lyrics off an iPad on a music stand (get a subtle auto-cue surely?) Still, the show was glittering, the band was tight, there was a troupe of cute kids doing some awesome dancing, a minor stage invasion (not what i had expected from the middle-aged, middle class clientele) and although some of the numbers had a karaoke-esque feel to them (none of the songs were his own – they are all from movie soundtracks so maybe not that surprising) I was sold on Hindi love songs and a new Shaan fan!

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The following day and another exceptionally short celebrity took the stage – Indian comic Vir Das presented four shows for a comedy festival. What a crash-course education in Indian pop-culture the weekend was turning out to be for me! I’ve come to the conclusion that Indian comedy is well funny even though I didn’t understand the political gags or have a clue who any of the sports personalities or famous actors being joked about were. There are certain similarities to British humor – especially the gleeful use of sarcasm (a concept that completely goes over many other nationalities heads), a shining example of which was presented in the finale of the day – a celebrity roast of two Bollywood actors I’d once again, never heard of. I got into the spirit of it all anyway and even made a joke myself as well as finding myself the butt of one:

When a young stagehand stepped on my toes and then couldn’t stop apologising profusely. I told him not to worry – it was nothing – try standing in the ladies carriage on the Western railway in the morning rush hour! (See my previous blog on Mumbai public transport.)

During the first show without warning they invited several of the audience onto stage. I handed one guy a microphone who promptly switched it off then proceeded to look confused as to why it didn’t work when he tried to speak into it. I had to run on stage and swop it for another (still wearing my rather sexy Christmas style wooly jumper!) while the comic joked, “there goes your pay check!” Thanks! Let’s hope they edit that bit out!


last but not least and this photo really doesn’t do it justice I just wanted to share with you the moment where I looked down and thought “has someone put something in my drink? The train floor is moving under my seat!” and realised it was about 50 massive as you like cockroaches – minging!