Susie Gilbert, My third guest writer, tells us about her travelogues.

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What form does your writing take? I re-write my diaries in the form of travelogues. It’s amazing what the brain can tap into when revisiting the moment. My memories flood back and I am instantly transported back to where ever I’m writing about.

How often do you write? I write whenever I can, usually at the end of a day when I know I’ve got a good couple of hours spare.

How does writing make you feel? My writing relaxes me and allows me to think about life at a deeper level.

Where/when do you write? I write using my MacBook Pro, usually on my lap with the dog nestled in beside me.

What do you write about? I am currently writing up my travels in Mumbai and Kerala last year before I’m off to India again in a few weeks time. I previously wrote up my first visit to India when I went with my son, Charlie, in 2011. We were on a family pilgrimage to Varanasi and Nainital retracing family history. It was an emotionally charged experience and it comforts me to know I have preserved my memories in print.

What’s the best thing about writing? The best thing about writing is that it makes me think.

How long have you been writing for?  I have been writing on and off for years, always keeping  holiday diaries.

To see an extract from Susie’s diary please click on the first comment below

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3 responses to “Susie Gilbert, My third guest writer, tells us about her travelogues.

  1. Susie Gilbert

    DIARY EXTRACT – WALKING THROUGH DHARAVI, ASIA’S LARGEST SLUM AND HOME TO OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE.

    We wandered towards the industrial area on dirty, scruffy, unmade roads and through a labyrinth of dingy alleyways, the sweat poured off our backs as our lungs fought to breath in the stifling polluted air. People were busily getting on with their day and I felt uncomfortably conspicuous at this point, the point of no return. Unbeknown to us there were thriving industries here with an annual export turnover of three hundred and fifty million pounds, also, the residential areas, which we were to see later, provided cheap affordable accommodation in a city that has some of the highest rents in the world. “People choose to live here”, Ganesh said smiling as we followed him to the plastic recycling factory, the plastic bottles bundled up and piled sky high at the edge of the road. Further on there were huge piles of paint tins and oilcans waiting to be stripped of their slimy residue and reworked before reincarnation in to a new life. We saw incredibly dangerous working conditions in dark half-lit factories. Men working unprotected with acids, with sparking welders etc sitting cross-legged in the filth. We entered one of the factories and into the depths of hell. Ganesh told us to walk through quickly, “ There’s a risk of flying metal,” he said rather flippantly. I grit my teeth and kept my head down, my shallow breaths failed to repel the bombardment of acrid air in to my lungs. Blackened, glistening figures of men hammered away and showers of sparks emanated from the darkness. I kept my sunglasses on for a little protection but this effectively rendered me blind and was caught out by a sweating man who lunged at me and lifted them off my face. He shouted, “boo” as I jumped out of my skin, then he laughed at me from the depths of his big belly. Ganesh seemed to know the factory workers, they laughed and chatted, probably amused by this latest clutch of weird westerners. We trundled on through the narrow lanes in a state of complete awe of our surroundings. From an empty office somewhere we were led up to a rooftop via a series of steep ladders; we stood rather precariously on the corrugated iron and took in the view. The sky above was deep blue and beneath us the shabby landscape looked like a faded antique tapestry harbouring the worlds biggest ant’s nest. High-rise monstrosities grew up through the weave and fraying edges, they heralded the start of the slum clearance program. Back in the lanes we were amused to see Muslims making Hindu shrines. “All religious faiths tolerate one another here”, Ganesh said cheerily. Further on the cheesy abattoir smell of death engulfed the tanneries, inside them were piles of stinking animal skins drying out. Mangy goats contentedly munching on cardboard looked in from the lane outside. Whatever were they thinking, could they sense their impending death I wondered, their days were definitely numbered. Ganesh said that some were kept for sacrifice. We were truly surprised to learn that designer brands like Gucci bought in leather from here and there were examples of the finished products proudly on show, for example, wallets, bags and belts. We giggled when we read “Made in Italy” imprinted on the wallets. The Australian girl questioned this with Ganesh who waggled his head and evaded answering. We passed through the potteries area with huge brick built kilns that billowed out plumes of black smoke as the clay was fired. Here there and everywhere women were sat cross-legged in the filth, chatting away to each other whilst making poppadums for world export. They worked at ground level in the detritus including the odd dead rat. The dough was rolled out on to plates, flattened and then left to dry out on upturned baskets, sometimes next to a stinking open sewer. Absolutely no health and safety here, it was dangerous and dirty but strangely liberating. Forever ingenious and incredibly resourceful, these people looked ok, happy even and I thought who the hell am I to judge.

  2. Loved the guest piece and Sue’s extract – both very insightful. A talented family!

  3. Maureen Wakefield

    I enjoyed the essay greatly Susie and am looking forward to reading the whole piece. I am proud beyond belief of my two talented daughters and hope one day to see you both published.

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