Alison McQueen


Travels with my mother (Part 1)

Posted: January 23rd, 2014

They say you need three things to travel in India; a good vehicle, a good horn, and good luck. All timings are approximate which translates roughly to: don’t hold your breath, it may never happen. If you are travelling with an aged mother who’s not much bigger than a doormouse, you also need the patience of a saint.

I first went to India with my mother in 1999 after she made a pointed comment over Sunday lunch that she thought I might have been by now, to which I said that I was waiting for her to take me. After all, she’s the Indian and without her I’m just a tourist. So off we went on the first of many sorties into her homeland.

It was easier then. She was a bit blind but everything else was in reasonable working order, give or take. By this particular trip however she was a lot more blind and came armed with a couple of Tupperware boxes stuffed to the gunnels with her daily meds. This time, we had decided upon an organized tour. It was the only way we could get travel insurance for the mother, and my initial plan to drag her all the way up to Darjeeling then into Nepal hadn’t gone down well with Norwich Union at all.

Davindra, our tour guide, picked us up from Delhi airport, a small group of eight, among them me and my sister, and mum. We weave ourselves, our luggage and Slow Doris through the traffic, and are quickly aware that Davindra has no intention of checking that we are still in tow.

Anyone who has experienced Delhi’s domestic airport and immediate surroundings will realize that negotiating the crowds is no mean feat. We dodge cars and painted lorries and a line of clapped out coaches before arriving at a tiny, ancient minibus with “Indian air conditioning” and no spare wheel. The vehicle jerks into the chaotic traffic.

Davindra suggests a tipping kitty, that everyone should contribute, say, fifty or sixty quid into, and from which he will tip whoever needs tipping so that we are not having to worry about it. My mother and I look at each other and hold onto our purses. The truth about tipping kitties is that they are tipped straight into the tour guide’s pocket, save the odd few rupees here and there when he thinks he is being watched. We don’t mention anything to the other tourists. They’ll get the hang of it sooner or later after being fleeced a few times.

Without warning, Davindra (armed with the bulging kitty), opens the door, says “see you tomorrow”, and steps off the moving vehicle directly into the busy roadway. The eight travelling companions, none of whom have met before today, exchange glances. We are now alone with the driver, who doesn’t speak a word of English and seems to be having trouble holding the decrepit bus in a straight line. We appear to be driving on the wrong side of the road too, heading directly into the oncoming traffic. My sister and I are not worried. Nor is my mother. We are used to it, and the old girl can speak Hindi.



Posted: January 9th, 2014

Just bloggin’ along…

Today marks the kick-off of my blog tour. For the next six weeks I shall be guest posting on a whole load of fabulously bookish websites and blogs. There will be interviews, articles, question and answer sessions, excerpts, a few moment of silliness and some wonderful virtual events by magic of Skype and Facebook Chat.

Thursday 9th January… First stop, an interview with Closed The Cover in Florida.

Monday 13th January… with the fabulous Bookaliciousmama

Wednesday 15th January… chatting to Sia McKye over coffee

Thursday 16th January… talking about research at Long & Short Reviews

Saturday 18th January… interview and giveaway at Simply Ali

Sunday 19th January… on Mina de Caro’s bookshelf

Monday 20th January… over to Kim in Baltimore on SOS Aloha!

Tuesday 21st January… review from Mom’s Small Victories

Thursday 23rd January… channelling Mauritius at Zee Monodee’s spot.

Friday 24th January… guest post at Notes Of A Book Lover

Saturday 25th January… stopping by at Rott-I-Tude

Sunday 26th January… with Yuska Vonita at Lust & Coffee

Monday 27th January… talking to All Things Girl

Wednesday 29th January… stopping by today at A Book Blogger’s Diary

Sunday 2nd February… interview and giveaway at Books For Life

Tuesday 4th February… review and interview at Drey’s Library

Thursday 6th February… guest posting at Passages to the Past

Sunday 9th February… reviews from Mary’s Cup of Tea and A Work In Progress plus a guest post on writing

Tuesday 1th February… stopping off at Gerbera Daisy Diaries

Thursday 13th February… review from So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday 14th February… why I love bookshops at Historical Tapestry

Saturday 15th February… review from Peace Love Books

Monday 17th February… review from Confessions of a Book Addict

Thursday 20th February… review and guest post at A Bookish Affair