Comforts of alone.

Much like the song from Sound of Music.

It struck me this morning when I woke to something prodding my shoulder – it was Maya’s little, old dog! Look at it and the heart gets both warmed and nostalgic. How very many stories that little dog tells.

Barre Moms’ old black and white comforter, the association obviously adds an extra layer.

Sheets she embroidered for my trousseau, which I finally decided to use. The dressing table at which I can still see her sitting.

A bookshelf full of my mothers collection of Georgette Heyer!

The glass warmer, Maya’s first knitting attempt. The stickers on the mirror, when Rifq thought Mama was great!

Photographs and decanters. The contents of which has most to do with comfort! But the memory is of my Grandfather holding it by the neck and carrying it to and from the drawing room every evening.

Perhaps waking to all these around me, makes for never being alone. I guess it’s why we surround ourselves with memorabilia.

Spring at the LAMA HOUSE

Last year this time, I was sitting in a mausoleum of a building with plumbers, carpenters, painters – a fleet of people tracking dirt and material across the beautiful wooden floors. Snow in the garden that needed so much work. And I thought, ‘what in the world did I take on?’

Today, there are daffodils nodding their early heads. The birds are warbling. Skies are blue.

This old Lama House is beautiful again, there are six lovely rooms for you to come inhabit.


I like walks in the woods, have the perfect picnic spots, the corners in my garden offer the best reading, writing, painting spots.

We bake lovely cakes and cookies – and do real coffee.

The whisky comes from some of the best parts of Scotland and even Japan.

Having lived a life of complete adventure – I can facilitate a climb across the mountains on a trek or a jeep safari.

I have just revived for myself the old world arts of water colours, knitting and embroidery – they are therapeutic and healing. In sync with the essence and energy of this home built by monks.





The best of the mountains happens here. Come join me.

Confusions of alone.

IMG_8080Lonely – the heart or the mind? Neither actually, physical loneliness is what I think it boils down to. The heart can be full of love, the mind can be happy with the day, the flower, the circumstance, a book, a movie, the very air.

No one to sit by, no one to turn and smile at, no hand to hold. Physically alone.

Such a happy place to be when you need to make a decision, get up and go, not seek an opinion, not worry about anyone, no one to ask and no one to tell anything at all. So much ease and bliss.IMG_8365

I love travelling alone. You can decide where to go, for how long, what you most want to do there and it’s easy.

I love being home alone, wake, sleep, lounge, grunge, eat, not eat. No answerability.

Perhaps, when you sit in that cafe in the evening, it might be nice to chat about your day, what you each saw – if it was different, or what you each experienced if it was the same. To perhaps discuss what to do the next day. To even share a bad moment or a IMG_8415magical sunset.

Perhaps, wake to a smile, share a breakfast, feel a touch, walk a walk, cuddle a goodnight. Throw a tantrum even.

I actually tend to think alone people would be very good companions to have. Alone people have had lots of time to think, grow and gather experiences. They have leisure to introspect and understand. They have the ability of silence and observation. They have the value for a companion.

Perhaps, I would like to find another alone person to be alone with.IMG_8148



I was at dinner the other night at the venerable Delhi Gymkhana Club, that for many, follows antiquarian rules. It well may, but some of those rules are what go to making a very pleasant environment. Isn’t that what is required of any public space where people go to have a convivial time?

One of the young ladies with me was answering her phone while sitting with us in the bar, and I had to warn her that she would be fined if she did not stop.

There was absolute disbelief and amazement in her voice when she said ‘really? why?’

Why? why do we think the phone is this instrument that first, needs to be instantly answered, and second, that it should be allowed to interrupt everything else in your life?

I find it quite basic good manners, forget manners, courtesy even; that if you are sitting with people who have made the time to come be with you, you accord them too the courtesy of being with them – and not on your phone.

That you are in a place of leisure, where all the people around you too have come to meet and be with their friends and family in a convivial environment where someone loudly talking into their phone is disturbing and not necessarily what they came to hear.

Have you noticed that if you are having a conversation amongst people whether on a train, a bus or in a restaurant, it is likely to be much quieter than if you are having that same conversation on a phone in those public domains?

I once found myself on a bus travelling through the English countryside, and one young person spent the whole journey having a quarrel with her boyfriend on the phone. The whole bus knew exactly what was up with her life; love life,sex life, friends’ lives and a whole host of details that were nobody’s business but her own, and many of us really did not want to know. What we did want, was a quiet drive to enjoy the scenery or read a book, or even have a conversation of our own and were hugely disturbed by this unthinking behaviour.

Now think, if her boyfriend had been sitting next to her, they would probably have had a whispered argument and not that full scale phone battle. That is not a given, however. Which brings me to loud, public conversations too – why would I not have a loud public disagreement?

I would if it were a matter of public opinion or debate.

I would not if it was just my business, because I would not want it to be public. I would not want a public disturbance, I do not like people encroaching on my business and therefore I have no right to push myself onto them. If I do not want their opinion then I have to make sure I do not give them the opportunity to give it.

So it comes to the question of consideration. Considering another’s comfort or discomfort. Why would we do that? Many’s the time we were told by a parent, a teacher or an elder – ‘it’s good manners.’

But why did it become ‘good manners’ in the first place.

I think it goes back to an intrinsic fact of community. Almost all creatures that inhabit this earth live in communities. For those communities to function there have to be patterns of acceptable behaviour, else it becomes difficult to work within a society.

Ultimately it boils down to individual rights, doesn’t it? Why does one person have the right to disturb another?

Either I give you the right or you take the right by force.

If I give the right, we stay amicable and friendly, if you take it by force, I fight you and hate you.

What is pleasanter for both you and me – the peace or the war?

So where does answering that phone fit in? It’s my right to answer my phone wherever I like.

But if I am sitting next to you it is my right to tell you that your loud conversation is disturbing me.

It gives me a headache, it disturbs my concentration while I read or write or do sudoku. It is not your right to disturb me. Stalemate and fight.

But if a public place bans mobile phones, then there is no chance of the strife occurring. Is that wrong? They have the right, it is their space and you needn’t be there if you don’t like the rules. That’s your right.

But I am wandering from consideration to rights.

Why do people still gravitate to people with etiquette and good manners if it is old fashioned?

I do not think it is just an old fashioned concept, Manners or Etiquette came about to create a set of acceptable behaviours so people could co habit and co exist. That necessity still exists, much as we feel that we the individual should be allowed to do what we please. Sure we may, but really, not so much if you want to be a social person and live amongst other people – even if you want to go live all alone in the jungle, there would be the rules of the jungle that would apply.

It is like the contract that we make when I take children on a trip – the first thing is contracting our behaviour – what would we like to include on this trip and what would we like to exclude, in terms of behaviour. By and large all the children include, being polite, considerate, caring, sharing, listening, helping etc etc. Exclude, being rude, selfish, bullying, noisy, unco-operative etc etc.

As far as my concept of etiquette and good manners goes, this is all that it means. To be pleasant and positive.

Why? It makes you feel good, lessens the strife in your own life and it generates the same in the people you meet so it makes you feel doubly good. There’s something very right about that.

That is what my understanding of etiquette and good manners is.

The discussion continues into all aspects of life – as every good book of etiquette did present. The fact that I haven’t found one of those in a long time does not really mean that we have to give up on the graces.

A disappearing grace.


My  uncle needed some help with his computer, this is how it transpired:

First  his major domo calls the house phone this morning, to enquire if I was awake and free to talk.

Once that was established, he called on my mobile. He explained that he was having some trouble remembering how to do stuff on his computer. Would I please come by and help him when convenient. This came only after the greetings and well beings had been established. No ungracious short cuts.

We fixed on this evening – his question – tea or drinks? I said around 5.30, he laughed and said ‘we will have to see whether that should be late tea or early drinks once you get here.’

I arrived to find him sitting at his table, the computer open and his notebook beside it, with all the issues neatly listed. Ready for me to arrive.

But first of course there was the matter of tea or drinks, which was resolved with tea before we started work and maybe drinks once we finished. ‘The important things in life must come before the mundane.’

His problems were dealt with in short order, he snapped the machine shut and said, ‘well then, time to put on the brothel slippers.’  I have no idea where the bits emerge from till today, I have known him some 58 years, this expression was new.

‘An old cavalry expression for relaxing of an evening’ he said, ‘ an officer did not walk into a brothel beating a drum!’ 

In today’s language they are called ‘desert boots’ probably not even that any longer, but essentially casual ankle high suede shoes with rubber soles. I was so entertained – the vision of cavalry boots thumping up a brothel stairway and the soft tread of the brothel slippers came quite vividly to mind.

I love these moments with the old folk, there is a grace and charm and such perfect courtesy – not to mention the snippets of trivial information that open a window into a world gone by.