Dutchy in Cornwall and the Bhutan stories (2)


Dear readers, today’s story deals with our day of sightseeing in Delhi, this massive metropolitan with a population of 9.879 k people (2001)

From the airport we were taken to our home stay. A home stay is different from a hotel. It has a reception, a living room, bedrooms (with airco) and they provide breakfast. A bit like an English B&B. Our Home stay was situated in a fenced court yard in a busy street.

During our Delhi day we had an English speaking guide, and a car with driver. First we went to a mosque. The Jama Mashid. Shoes off. Kate and I had to wear a thin dressing gown over our clothes. Our guide took us to a priest, hidden in a remote room. Would we like to see a relic? Oh yes please. Priest rumbled around in his room. Lots of dark corners. Then he showed us a little box, opened the lid, took out an upside down thimble with in the middle a hair upstanding: a hair from Muhammed. Wow (who was he again… oh yes, I remember, Muhammad, the Holy Prophet and founder of the Islam). And next the priest showed us a shoebox, with a footprint in clay in it: Muhammed’s footprint. Gosh. Some Indian people behind us wanted to see the miracles too, but the priest shooed them away with a hand: Shoo, go away! 500 rupees please. Thereafter the guide took us to another temple with extended gardens and shrines. And we saw the Qutab Minar, the highest tower in India (72,5 m.)

Then we had a rickshaw ride. Our driver/biker, a thin, tall friendly man with a moustache did his utmost to move us forward. I think we had two flat tyres. Our guide followed in another rickshaw, in the middle of tuk tuks (three wheelers), buses, taxis, hand carts with high stacked cargo, motorbikes… and everyone was blowing the horn, honking, tooting. A deafening noise. A skinny cow here and there. Dust. Thick air. Petrol fumes. We were taken to the old part of Delhi, the Silver Street. I saw a boy in rags brushing his teeth in the gutter, in a muddy puddle. A man squeezing lemons in a bowl. Someone else was peeling onions. And yes, we were noticed too.

Guide took us to a spice shop. We were shown around. ‘Here, taste this,’ said the seller and he gave me a nutmeg shell. Obediently I chewed the nutmeg. ‘Do you know this? And this and this.’ And I thought, yes, I have it all in my cupboard. Didn’t want to be rude though, so I pointed at a piece of Himalayan salt. ‘And what else?’ Oh well, and this, uh, green curry. ‘That’s 800 rupees.’ Ha, now I’ll have to negotiate, I thought, and I shook my head: 800 rupees? Far too much. ‘No ma’am, this is the bottom price, we can’t go down.’ Oh. All right then, 800 rupees.

Next our guide took us to a restaurant for lunch. Only European visitors. We choose a modest priced curry from the menu. Mineral water on the side. The commotion started when we wanted to pay our bill: more rupees, ma’am! The price is excluded tax! Okay, we dug up our last rupees. No ma’am, it’s not enough! So we had to wait for some help from our guide. He explained that we had to tip the owner of the restaurant as well. Yes, but our rupees are finished! So we had to lend some rupees from our guide. Our next trip was to the cash machine.

Then guide took us to a carpet shop. We entered a huge shop, with assistants hanging listlessly against the walls. No other visitors. Shawls, pashmina!, no thank you. But then this good looking, charming, well dressed, smooth talking seller approached us. No, we didn’t have to buy, but listen to this story of an ancient trade, carpet weaving. Since generations done in this special way, this is their technique, look at the back of this carpet and this carpet… and carpet after carpet were rolled out over the floor. Big carpets, middle sized carpets, small carpets Every time when we tried to break away, another carpet was rolled out in front of our feet. In the end we managed to escape. Our guide asked innocently: You didn’t buy anything? No, we would like to go back to our hotel please. Thank you.

And the next morning, at six o’clock, we headed to the airport for our final destination: Bhutan.

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Dutchy in Cornwall and the Bhutan-stories (1)


Dear friends, it pleases me to be back home! We (my dear friend Kate and me) travelled about a fortnight ago from London (15 °C) via Oman (Muscat, 28°C) to India (Delhi, 35 °C). In Delhi we stayed for two days and finally we arrived in Bhutan (Paro, 21 °C) It was a stunning experience. I cannot tell the whole story in one blog. Bhutan is fascinating in so many ways! The people so unusual! Therefore you may find here everyday a little story for the coming period.

It all began in Delhi. As far as I was concerned, I would have travelled straight to Bhutan and skip India entirely, but we were advised to stay in Delhi for two days, for acclimatising, for a rest and for sightseeing. Oh well, I reluctantly gave in, let’s do a bit of Delhi then. But my premonition was right: as soon as we arrived in India, I lost the ground under my feet.

It all started rather innocent. Our plane landed, we went to the toilet. Here I changed my clothes. A pair of linen trousers, a singlet and a thin blouse. That felt so much better in this temperature of 35 °C! Then we walked through the jet bridge and arrived into this huge, spacious hall, with long walking escalators, corners to take, more escalators going down, eventually leading to the Indian Custom officials. We had to queue and wait. Then it was our turn. The Custom officer asked for our passports. Of course. I grabbed for my passport in my hip bag… in vain. I didn’t wear it. It was still in the toilet.

So we had to rush back, the long way back. At which gate did we arrive? We hadn’t noticed. And so many toilets, they all looked the same. We sped through the stretched corridor, toilet in, toilet out, but my hip bag was nowhere. I felt desperate. Here I was, in India, a strange continent, with no passport, no visa, no money, no credit card… OMG…

Luckily Kate stayed cool. Cora, we have to ask for help. While I kept hurrying around, she found someone in charge. We were told about these security camera’s everywhere, even in the toilets. More and more people gathered around us, workers, cleaners, what not, all talking in Hindi. We were invited to take place in a buggy, faster than walking. We moved again from washroom to washroom. Then I was summoned to walk into this specific one. Indoors I saw a smiling cleaning lady. And there lay my hip bag, on the same place as I had left it. I felt immensely relieved 🙂 Hugged the cleaning lady, and we paid the people.

But no, we were not done yet. Yes, Customs were fine now. But next we went to the baggage belt. Since our enterprise had taken so long, all the luggage activities were finished. Our suitcases! Where were our suitcases? We had to walk from A to B and back, and from B to C and back. We were told to wait… Finally, thank goodness, we found them. And finally we could leave the airport and look out for our contact person. Who, bless him, had kept waiting for us. We were taken to our hotel.

Tomorrow: Delhi

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Dutchy in Cornwall visits the Indian Embassy


Whether you have a car or whether you depend on public transport, travelling from Bude to London is quite an enterprise. Yesterday however the job had to be done: attending the Indian Embassy, handing over passports, looking serious and trustworthy, paying a lot of money, and hoping that eventually permits will be stamped in our documents.

Claire took the journey with me. Claire, my dear friend and my agent. We took off early by car (hers of course) to Exeter and parked the vehicle in front of the train station. The train arrived in time and all was good. Until we had to transfer trains at Clapham Junction… When we arrived at platform 4, there was a lot of commotion going on. Platform was crowded with travellers, but no trains. The signs were singing: delayed delayed delayed… The stations guard told us spectators that ‘a person was walking on the tracks’… Therefore all the trains were delayed. Well, how long did we have to wait? The guard shook regrettable his head, no one knew.

Still, my appointment at the embassy was booked at three o’clock pm. We had only an hour left to get there. And we were not that far off any more. Hence we left the station and looked around for a taxi. Which we found. But Oh! Travelling by car in London! On an Friday afternoon! We were crawling from traffic light to traffic light and the clock was ticking…

Finally two mins before three we arrived at the embassy. We rushed out of the taxi, I threw the money at the driver and we hurried in. Signed in. Took the stairs. Signed in again, received a number. Seated down in this big hall cramped with whole families, couples, singles. All just like us waiting for their number to be called.

Apparently the staff didn’t like crying babies. Families with crying babies were immediately called forward. Next time I will take a baby with me. At last, after an hour or so it was my turn. I handed over my documents to Rouble, a friendly lady. Friendly but professional. And no, I didn’t have to tell her that I had been married to an Englishman called Steve, and no, she didn’t want to see two years of electricity bills to prove that I really live in Bude. She was looking at my pics though, and she wanted to see my credit card. She kept my passport. Promised that I will get it back. In six to eight working days. Which will be pretty tight…

About an hour later the same procedure started all over again for Kate’s visa, and then the job was done. We were free. And starving.

So we took a bus from the embassy to Heathrow. Had sandwiches at Costa. Then took the bus to Woking. Then waited for our delayed train to Exeter. Had to stand in the aisle in a chockfull train. And then the car was waiting at the parking and we sailed happily into the night, to our beloved Bude. A bit after midnight Claire delivered me at home.

Job done.

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Dutchy in Cornwall is reading stories


So, finished. What a great story… In the last two days I absorbed two books. Yesterday it was ‘State of Wonder’ (2011) by Ann Patchett. The day before yesterday I finished ”Grief is the thing with feathers’ (2015) by Max Porter.

Ann Patchett writes about Marina, a female scientist who travels to the jungle of Brazil to find her lost colleague. Dangers of anaconda’s, huge spiders, malaria, ruthless tribes shooting poisonous arrows. A captivating story.

And Max Porter’s book is about a family in grief. The story of a father who is left alone with his two young sons after his wife all of a sudden passed away because of a stroke. Porter’s style is partly prose, partly in verse, sound-poetry. Heart-breaking.

It has been quite a while ago that I was able to read fiction. In this last year I’ve been reading a pile of mourning books, then books about near-death experiences, followed by books about Buddhism and Tao. Next I fed myself with cookery books. I just couldn’t get my head around fiction.

Well, it looks like I’m back to storytelling again. Which is handy, because there are three shelves of novels-to-read waiting for me. Once I heard a well-read writer being interviewed about his reading habits. No, no names. He boasted that he had read over ten thousand books. He was in his forties then. Ten thousand?? I found it hard to believe. But from that moment I made a list of all the books that I read. And finished, no cheating. I jotted down all the books that I had read from the first to the last page. And I noticed that I’m reading about 80 – 100 books a year. Now, imagine… hundred books a year means about thousand books in ten years. So, ten thousand books in hundred years? How many books can one read in a lifetime?



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Dutchy in Cornwall attends the Conference of the British Dowsers


A whole weekend with 150 dowsers in Newport Pagnell. A German professor came over from…, yes Germany, others flew in from Portugal, Mumbai. Lectures were given about pendulums, holograms and the entropy of black holes, electro-smog, Tibetan monks, Archaeo-astronomy, and earth-singing in the landscapes of Cornwall. I attended workshops. All meals were included. And, very important, the Bar. We all had a name-badge, newbies like me recognisable by a purple dot next to their name.

For those of you who don’t know what a pendulum is, a pendulum is a little device of crystal, metal or other materials, suspended on a chain, used in divination and dowsing. The user first determines which direction (left-right, up-down, or clockwise and anti-clockwise) will indicate “yes” and which “no”, before proceeding to ask the pendulum specific questions. The pendulum may also be used over a pad or cloth with “yes” and “no” written on it and perhaps other words written in a circle. The person holding the pendulum aims to hold it as steadily as possible over the centre and its movements are held to indicate answers to the questions.

How does dowsing really work? Is it a leftover ability that primitive man needed to ensure he could find water, food and shelter? Or is it a gift from the higher realms? No one is absolutely certain. But how about this: we all exist in a universe filled with energy. Every living organism is surrounded by various types of energy. Animals can sense positive and negative energy. Salmon rely on it to return to their birthplace, birds use it for migration. We humans can have premonitions too. For example, sometimes when we enter a room with people, we can feel the atmosphere is tense. Call it a ‘sixth sense’ or intuition, or sensory perception.

Keynote speaker Sandie talked about pendulums from Egypt and France. The French have their own approach. They focus on the form, the shape of the pendulum and not on mental questions by the dowser. Now why is that? First a bit of history:

In 1798 the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte undertook an expedition to conquer Egypt. With him went a group of 167 scientists (mathematicians, naturalists, chemists). Their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone and many artefacts, like ceramic pendulums, found in Egyptian tombs. (You can see them in the Louvre in Paris)

Then, in the early and mid twentieth century, French physicists and engineers were investigating the energy emitted by these pendulums. From these they developed a range of Egyptian pendulums. They went on to explore and created Scientific Energy pendulums. These tools can detect the frequencies and the quality of energetic emissions from people, objects and places. They can also be used to correct imbalances or to create beneficial energies. Some specialised pendulums can remove curses and black ‘spells’.

What a fascinating lecture this was. Sandy demonstrated a whole series of these pendulums! Afterwards the audience was allowed to use them, and of course I tried them out.

Now back home I will explore my dowsing skills,. I will dig out what’s there to be found. I will participate in the dance of life in all its glory.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to an Evening of Mediumship


It all started with my weekly shopping trip, escorted by B&S Taxis. Mike was the driver. I had to tell him to cancel my next time, because I will be away for a number of days. “Where are you going to?” Mike asked. “I’m going to Milton Keynes”, was my answer. Wow, that’s exciting. Had I ever been to Milton Keynes before? Yes, once. They have an Ikea. “This time, however”, I said, “I will be going to a conference. The annual conference of British Dowsers. Rods and pendulums. Lectures given by Ph.D people. I want to have a look around.”

“So, are you interested in spirituality?” Mike broke the silence. A good question. “Well”, I said, “kind of. I’m having my doubts of course. But I’d like to investigate their way of thinking.” “Hmm, there’s something happening in the Falcon Hotel tonight, about Mediumship”, Mike mused. “I read it on Facebook”.

Mediumship? What’s that about? As soon as I got home after the shopping I went online and had a google…

Thus, last night, I found myself amongst fifty, sixty people, young and old, listening to two psychic ladies. Eileen from Bude, and Nicky from Tiverton. They took it in turns. They chose people from the audience and told a bit about the spirit that was hanging around them. One, two, three sessions passed. Then Eileen sensed among the people where I was sitting the spirit of a man, definitely not a woman, who had suffered during the time he passed away from frailty in the legs. Did anyone of us recognise such a person? Oh yes, I did. Aha. Did he like his bread and butter? Fond of his beer? “Cider”, I corrected her. “Okay, that’s fine. He says to me, there’s a celebration in October coming up? Does that make sense to you?” “Yes”, I answered, he passed away in October, around the time we had our wedding day”. “Okay, he says you were two of a kind, is that right?” Yes, we were.
“He had a difficult life? But he was always smiling?” Yup. “Is there a train journey coming? Eileen wondered. ” I nodded. “Well, it will be fine, he will be around. And, he says, don’t take it all so serious,” Eileen concluded.
Thanks, Eileen, thank you.

So, I’ll be off for a few days. I’m going by train to Milton Keynes. To see what dowsing is about. And I won’t take it too serious.

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Dutchy in Cornwall goes to the poetry group


When did we start, Kate, Molly and me… was it in 2011?
We felt a deep desire to read good poetry in a group. But not just reciting a poem out loud and mumbling to each other, ‘Very interesting, next!’ No, to really focus on the poem. An analysis of what a poem says, what it means, and how it says it. The rhyme of the stanzas, repetition, form, alliteration, allusions, metaphor, point of view – in combination with a short life story of the poet, summary of the works, prizes won.

We started off with T.S. Eliot and ‘The Love song of Alfred J. Prufrock’. Molly took us by the hand. Through the years we have read many big names, like R.S. Thomas, Robert Lowell, John Donne, Philip Larkin, Robert Browning, W.H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, George Macbeth. We didn’t forget the women either: Stevie Smith, Pascale Petit, Carol Ann Duffy, Marianne Moore, and many more.

In each session, we look at up to half a dozen poems. No, we don’t love everything all the time. And yet there’s this excitement about coming to understand things that we perhaps hadn’t seen the first, or second time. And then, it kicks in, we feel stirred or moved or provoked by the beauty of the language.

This time we paid attention to Judith Wright. Who is she? Never heard of. Interesting because her name is in Australia outstandingly popular. After we read (we read each in turn) a very crystal clear and round poem, I sighed, ‘Typical a poem to learn by heart’… And they all started laughing. Why was that? Oh Cora, my comrades said, that’s for when you’re a youngster. Oh, well. But still. I think it’s good to learn a few lines by heart. Imagine you’re standing in a queue, and instead of being impatient, or bored, you recite this to yourself and the people around you:

“Silence is the rock where I shall stand.
The silence between this and the next breath,
That might be — is not yet — death;
the silence between lover and lover
that neither flesh nor mind bridge over;
the silence between word and word,
in which the truth waits to be heard;
the silence between world and world
in which the promise first was sealed;
the heart’s silence between beat and beat,
in which myself and silence meet.

Silence is the rock where I shall stand.
Oh, when I strike it with my hand
may the artesian waters spring
from that dark source I long to find.”

– ‘Silence’ by Judith Wright (1915-2000)

What more can I say…

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