HOPE …. because without hope there is darkness

I was lucky enough to be born 53years ago to a family that was able to clothe, feed and provide me with shelter. Later came the education, opportunity to travel, freedom to think and speak and act independently. But, for now, I want to focus on how lucky I was to have the basics of life. Was it down to good fortune or just pure chance?

IMG_4493(Image: Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River)

I had the opportunity to visit Kolkata, the city of Joy between 31st January and 9th February with a view to visiting the three girls Simon and I sponsor through The Hope Foundation and some of the projects (crisis centre, girls’ & boys’ homes, hospital,4 crèches etc.) run by the team. Jhulan Ghose, who handles the volunteers was my first point of contact out here. Any volunteer really needs at least 6 weeks so this week for me was a taster session. Jhulan is a passionate Kolkatan lady; bright articulate and full of so much knowledge about the city and its history. She also only drinks Darjeeling tea and can be found with a supply of tea bags on trips abroad.

IMG_4754
(Image:Jhulan Ghose)

The HOPE Foundation, now 20 years old continues to help the street children of Kolkata and often their families too – no child should have to suffer or lose their childhood. The foundation has garnered the support of many especially the Irish community back home. Plaques all over the city illustrate the generosity of various individuals, families and organisations.

Over 5 days I visited several projects, most of which are described briefly below. All the children enjoyed having their photos taken as you can see. Please note that I cannot give location names for security/child protection reasons.

The hundreds and thousands that are born here on the streets of Kolkata (and some who come from farther afield) did not choose this life. But do you know what, they handle it will dignity and grace. They see it as their lot. The children have their eyes wide open and smiles that warm your heart. They are cheeky and friendly with their new aunty! Like children everywhere.

Creche

(Images:Creche within the slum)

This is serving a slum community. We’re dropped off on a road and Jhulan darts into a narrow alley and weaves through to a doorway from where you can hear chatter. We walk in, shoes off and there is huge excitement from the little ones. We sit and watch, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you are at any normal creche; posters on the wall and the teaching methods. Jhulan tells me that training is provided regularly, and experience is shared by teachers from Ireland every year. The children are so well behaved and keen to show off their talents. My favourite was “heads, shoulders, knees & toes”.

Girls’ homes
The security is visible across the two homes I visited. In a city where children are seen as a commodity for traffickers this is critical. The homes look after different ages; younger ones and then the 13-18years olds. Their days are filled with school and extra-curricular activities. Fresh food is cooked on site for these growing girls. They are proud of their home.

IMG_4763

(Images:Girls from one of the homes playing after school)

Boys crisis unit/home
Most of the boys at the crisis centre were rescued from the railway. When we visited they were keen to show us their dance, artwork and just play games. The boys were wonderfully open and happy.

(Boys from two homes playing after school)

Mother & Child Unit
No phones and photos allowed in this unit as this is a rescue centre. Some of the children are here with their mothers, but not all. It was a much quieter unit than the others. The mothers were all out for a routine X-ray that the foundation had organised. It was a calm place and I was taken by a teenage girl with autism who was here. She is an orphan and unfortunately her adoption fell through. With the support of the team she can now participate in more activities.

Out of town creche/classes
About 1 ½ hours outside of the centre we see the below hill. But it is not a natural hill, it is a rubbish pile around which a community has developed over several years. It is a source of income for the people. HOPE has both a creche and classes for the local children here. As you can see they are not shy! I can also verify that they all have strong lungs.

(Images:Creche & School)

Hospital

(Image: Samiran Malik, Paula, David with me during our visit to the Hope Hospital)

Samiran Malik has been here from 2008 when the hospital began helping the poor of Kolkata.
It’s inception and existence has been possible through many generous donors. They have an operating theatre, ICU and a specialist eye unit. There are 40 beds and it caters for children and adults. Volunteers often come and sit with patients. Samiran’s passion for the place was evident. He insisted on having the above photo as he keeps a record of every visitor.

Night ambulance
Soma is the administrator and is the cowboy who walks into the slums and within a year of doing this job has built a relationship and earns the trust of the various sites they visit. There are 18 field visits during the week on a rotation. Soma rounds up and encourages anyone who may need medical support to simply come and talk to the doctors that are in the bigger ambulance. She seems to know everyone and their situation; I am in awe of her calmness and her ability to cajole people into taking the help they need. The homes are made from what we would consider waste and rubbish – cardboard, tarpaulin, carrier bags, old rags, sticks. I meet a mother and father who are so determined for their daughter to be educated – she is a sponsored child. I feel relaxed and confident beside Soma and am overwhelmed by the acceptance these people have of their situation. No moans or complaints. The kids have become overly excited and decide to race; mostly barefoot and along the main road beside their homes.

(Images: Night ambulance visit)

Hope Cafe
Run by the wonderful Renu Singh. She makes it look so easy. The cafe is a haven for HOPE volunteers but also a place for great eats for the local office workers. Tasty food at incredible prices. And cakes are yummy too! And whilst there I had the privilege of meeting Jenny Forrest. Part of the original team and Maureen Forrest’s sister.

(Images:Jenny, Renu & Anne-Marie, Paula & I: all at the Hope Café)

Life Skills
To survive you need to earn money. To earn you need a skill. And here the young adults are taught in areas of food &catering; beauty; tailoring and computer skills. The HOPE team then helps them either to secure paid employment or set up by themselves.

(Images:Hope Life Skills)

Hope Kolkata Office
This is where we had the opportunity to meet our sponsored children. Seema was cheeky and had some spark to her personality. She stays in a protection unit. The two sisters Jyoti and Bhoomi were beautiful and shy and were accompanied by their father. They had lost their mother in January. They liked their gifts of a top each and some stationery. It’s a strange overwhelming situation but I for one was happy and somewhat quiet for me.

(Images: Sponsored children)

The people I met
– Jonny the driver — always smiling. You knew you were nearly at your destination because his seat belt would come off just around the corner.
– Gora – head of logistics. What Gora doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing.
– Geeta – The Director. She is part of the original set up team and works tirelessly to get more funds.
– Anne Marie who has now working with HOPE for 14 years. Calm and elegant. With the uniform of a white salwar and bright kurtis. She walks amongst the locals at ease. Softly spoken but strong.

In a city where 5star hotels and branded malls sit comfortably less than a few minutes away from abject property. By this I mean no electricity, no running water and where there is no imaginable future. The only escape is through education and in a country where this is a priority for all it means it is a million gazillion times harder for any child from the street. And this is where HOPE comes in. Not only is the mantra that no child should be hurt. They work with various NGOs and the police and other groups to arrive at the best outcome for every child. The teachers and staff at the various projects are dedicated and nurturing.
There are so many memorable moments from my trip; the above are just some of the highlights. Please visit the HOPE website and donate whatever you can. If you have the ability to sponsor a child please do let the team know. It costs just £20/month.

Thanks for reading.
Seema
(NB: I will be doing ‘The 10 Peak Challenge’ in the Lake District on June 8th and will be raising money for The Hope Foundation. I will be setting up a JustGiving page shortly.)

The Fussy Tea Drinker does The Coffee Festival

She, Louise Hickling from Bodum, who happens to be a WOTE (woman on the edge), said come on down. It’s an experience. So Meeta and I did.

She warned us

⁃ the venue is trendy (Old Truman Brewery at Spitafields)

⁃ Not suitable for heels

⁃ It gets really hot.

⁃ It gets really busy.

When a WOTE warns you , you take note.

⁃ The obligatory leather jacket comes out – trendy ✅

⁃ Flats boots – comfort ✅

⁃ No sweaters on this glorious day – temperature control ✅

⁃ Elbows ready, crowd control ✅

What she didn’t warn us about was that the place would be dripping with young trendy types, mostly with tight black t-shirts, tattoos, shades and just generally looking cool. I may have felt a little old. I support Lou and her right not to wear a polo shirt. There is a time and place for that sort of behaviour.

The above photos shows Lou and her colleagues and if you look closely you’ll see Meeta and I photobombing! We are famous.

Anyway I should tell you a little more about The Coffee Festival. For coffee lovers and connoisseurs this is a must do event. Every variety, combination and permutation of beans, coffee machines, method of roasting and added flavours all under one roof. A great demo area where super cool baristas were showing their skills – unfortunately wasted on me! When I say machines I mean everything from what a newbie to coffee may have (the ones that deliver the same quality of coffee through pods every morning) to those machines in trendy cafes that splutter, gurgle and require an engineering degree even to approach them.

Walking around you need to just go with the flow and not expect a normal trade show with straight rows of stands. This adds to the quirkinesses of the event. We came across jewellery, flowers , bags, green travel cups, healthy energy bars and so much more. My favourite was a tea company being brazen amongst the coffee ☕️.

Opposite Bodum we saw a group of visitors with headphones . I wonder what they were listening to. Probably someone telling them the source of the beans, who had dried them and roasted them.It’s all about the experience and increasing engagement. I should know. A box arrives for hubby every month with beans, details of origin, how to make the perfect grind and tasting notes. I’ve seen “hints of honey” and “overtones of dates”. It’s like fine wine apparently. 🙄

We were drowning in Turmeric Latte and Beetroot Latte – well Meeta was.

She did say you’re talking to the converted. I was half hoping she would say you’re talking to Indians. We won’t pay that much for a bit of turmeric! And it was far too early to be indulging in cocktails or dancing to the music that filled the air.

I have it on good authority that there are

600 independent Coffee shops inside the M25 corridor with about 3 opening every day. These will be the ones alongside the vegan delis.

Here is a photo of us outside the coffee festival.

And do you know yours truly doesn’t actually drink coffee!! I feel bit of a fraud writing about this and hence why it’s a little lacking in coffee detail. I can see why it enthuses people;it is more than just about coffee. It’s about fashion,lifestyle, being green and being part of the buzz. And from a commercial viewpoint it’s great to see entrepreneurs and established brands sharing the same space. I recognised some of the bigger brands, Sage, Dualit, Hello Fresh and obviously Bodum . “The can do”attitude was palpable. It’s the perfect place for new brands to showcase their products.

So if you’re a coffee buff or just “hip” get yourself down to London. You still have tomorrow. Be one of the 30,000 people who come.If you miss it there is Coffee EXPO later this year at Olympia.

Me, well I am off for a nice cup of PG tips.

Cheers.

Seema 🙏🏽

INDIAN SHAADI (Wedding) – desi (Indian)style 💕

Grab a cuppa and some snacks before you join me on this particular journey. And for my Indian friends don’t you be tutting and rolling your eyes. This is a U.P. wedding originating from near Moradabad and not a posh city affair.

As my dad is the oldest living member of the extended family it was important for all of us to be at this wedding. I do not recall having been to one in India as an adult. The wedding house was decorated but the monkeys kept breaking the flower chains 🐒🙄. A supply of mattresses and pillows had been delivered – not sure about that! My OCD would not have allowed it. Luckily our house is next door.

The cooks set up four days beforehand; they would prepare all the sweets that would be needed as gifts. They would also feed the entire household and any guests for the duration; breakfast, lunch and dinner. What a great idea. It freed up the household from routine chores. The guys just got on with it morning, noon and night. I wonder if I could set them up in my back garden permanently🤫. Would need friends to visits as their karahis (woks) were XXXL.

Breakfasts ranged from

⁃ samosas and jalebis

⁃ chole bhaturas

⁃ potato and onion pakoras

⁃ bread pakoras (being fried below)

Bread, potatoes, carbs, sugar and oil !! What’s not to love? Just don’t tell the doctor🤫. Or Nitasha Buldeo !!

Lunch would normally be two curries, chappatis and dinner,similar. We did also get “tairi” (vegetable pilau). Someone or other would pop round and say “food is ready” and like lemmings we would trot over. All were amused at Sam and me constantly taking pics of the food. I think they thought it was all new to us…😬.

Sweets or mithai

⁃ Khasta kachori (savoury)

⁃ Shakkar pare

⁃ Laddoo (below)

⁃ Gulab jamun

⁃ Balushai

The cooks can be seen packing the sweet boxes below. This finished box is shown further down.

Basically heart stopping coronary blocking party pack 🤔. I avoided any tea (those who know me know what a delicate and sensitive subject this is for me. So stewed, sweet, milky tea with cardamoms wasn’t going to get past my lips.🤢)

Enough about food. Let’s move to clothes. I had been super organised and banked a couple of outfits in Kolkata. My sister in law however arrived empty handed and needed support shopping. It would have been rude to leave her to do it on her own. Below is one outfit that got away.

The day before the wedding all the women had henna applied. I’ve also shown below the henna design the bride had. Crazy detail!

When the day arrives finally ! We have someone come to make us look beautiful. Note to self (yes another one!) – avoid tikkas (pendant on my forehead) unless you want to appear skewed all evening!

Everyone is looking super smart as the evening wedding preparations approach. Below are my two gorgeous nephews from London.

Sam in her lovely lengha with groom and his mother.

My dad looking like a midget next to my nephew and groom’s brother.

Shavvi on a horse as one does ! Setting off for the wedding hall.

The baraat (the wedding party)stops a short distance from the venue which is to hold 1600 guests. FFS who even knows that many people. I was told 800 from each side; I thought well that seems more reasonable 🙄. The groom by now has moved onto a carriage type affair and my nephew joins him.

We danced along the roadside to a what can only be described as a mobile band and disco 😀. As they say band, baaja (instrument) , baarat! It’s also common for notes to be thrown about for band members to pick up/take. My abiding memory is the sheer noise and the smell of the burning lanterns.

(Slightly skewed tikka 🤷🏽‍♀️)

Health & Safety freaks look away now. Yes that is a firework being set off on the road whilst traffic is going past. 😳

The baraat is welcomed by the bride’s family.

Total chaos but managed to capture my dad, brother and nephew.

And just Incase anyone was in doubt that there was a wedding on the agenda.

After entering the hall guests either sit or can go and eat. In fact lots were already there and enjoying yummy food. I can’t even begin to explain the variety of food available. Just awesome. Below a photo of roomali roti being cooked.

Above – The groom’s aunts. Again the skewed tikka!

Even mum managed to be get through all the hullabaloo of the evening.And my tikka is finally straight .. hoorah.

The bride and groom meet on the stage and exchange garlands; Jai Mala. Then normal photos and dancing.

They are not actually married but having their first dance. I’m slightly bemused by all this. It transpires that the marriage ceremony (phere) is to take place during the early hours of the morning. Let’s just say the yours truly went home at 12.30 but my 82year old father made a magnificent effort and came home at 6am. He will always do what is right.

The day after the wedding there is an event called “koria” (all the women get together to sing and dance including the bride). This is after singing and some dancing throughout the whole week. God bless her, Damini was on show. She was pretty cool;not only pretty and bright but she can also sing and dance. Thank god this was not a requirement in my time. I would have been sent back.

It is at this time that locals and elders come and see the bride. In the old days the bride’s face would be covered by her long veil. People would bless the bride and also see her face “moo dikhai”(literally translates as face showing).

During the days following the new bride comes and gets blessing from the elders of the family “aashirwaad”. This involves touching their feet. Below Damini with mum.

Wedding aside there were numerous occasions when people went for my feet. I would step aside or hold out my arm to stop them. Surely I am not old enough to be giving my blessings. This is one Indian custom I can’t cope with but understand that it holds a lot of meaning for and gives pleasure to many. Who am I to comment!! Britasian from Bedford 🤷🏽‍♀️?

It was a wonderful week of being totally immersed in a traditional Indian wedding complete with traditions and rituals. The latter often debated at length between people as to what was the “right” way. This is absolutely normal and nothing to be concerned about – no god is going to be offended. The standout had to be the food and dancing along the road. I hope I have done justice to the efforts of the cooks in my review, I certainly did in my eating!!

My Indian friends may be wondering why there hasn’t been any reference to “timing”. Indians are renowned for being late. I’ve obviously let the side down again by being punctual and often early. Shame on me. Needless to say that because of this casual attitude to timing I missed two ceremonies. One because it was running late and I had to be elsewhere and another because we thought they would be running late but rather rudely they did it on time – good grief !#expecttheunexpected (copyright Glenn Meek).

The only other thing I would note is that all family members need stamina for this type of occasion; you have been warned.

🙏🏽

Seema

I will be partaking in carrots and hummus for sometime !!!

Dear Mrs May …I have decided to come back to the U.K. 👋🏽

Dear Mrs May

I have decided to come back to the U.K.

Don’t worry, I have a British Passport so no need to have a welcome party ready for me at border control. I’ll be the one looking happy to be home but sad also to have left India.

Enough about me,how are you? I was a little disappointed that you didn’t respond to my first letter. I hope you didn’t think I was being too forward by suggesting some changes. It’s the socialist and control freak in me.

I was actually going to say that after six weeks in India we should be proud of the following things in particular within the UK:

⁃ Transport system

⁃ Healthcare Service

⁃ Education system.

I can see you are filling up with pride and getting teary eyed but please note this praise isn’t meant for you but for the people who deliver these services. Ofcourse we aspire to be better, demand more value for our taxes and there is always room for improvement.

However, there are a few things that we could learn from this beautiful country called India.

⁃ Please can we encourage more street food!! You simply can’t have a nation without Street Food. It may of course send the Health & Safety brigade into meltdown. But I think it would be worth it!! 😋 Just think of the joy it would bring to so many people.

⁃ Please can we encourage more napping 💤. I’m sure it would help lower the nation’s blood pressure.

⁃ Please can we encourage more transport options. I love the idea of Electric rickshaws around London.And more people on scooters (I don’t mean more on each scooter btw. I saw mum, dad, toddler and baby together on several occasions. I think it is in the genes here and the Brits should not attempt this at any point 😱).

⁃ Please can we encourage our soap makers (the tv kind) to be less cynical and downright depressing. Take time out to watch some Indian soaps and you’ll be transported to fantasy land where your brain can chill for a while. Perhaps it’s just me; I actually enjoy them.

I hope these less taxing ideas are more appealing ? I know you will be busy otherwise I would certainly have shared more ideas.

See you on the other side of Brexit. 🤷🏽‍♀️And I can honestly say that for the last 6 weeks this word has not really entered my headspace.I am sure you will have everything under control. Have you made any new friends yet btw?

I’m preparing myself for the 24/7 BBC tv & radio onslaught. I am Brexit ready !! But whilst I am still here for another 24 hours, more food is calling me. Hmmm what should I have… samosas, chaat(street food) , chole bhatura ( chickpeas and type of fried bread) , aloo puris ( potatoes and another type of fried bread).

Bye for now Theresa. Sorry but food over Brexit everyday.👍🏽 If you ever want some help my door is always open.

Namaste

Seema

🙏🏽

Auntiji goes to a coffee morning ☕️🍰

Auntiji 1: I’m reporting this event to the trading standards authority !

Auntiji 2: Kyo kya hua? (Why what happened?)You sound angry but look very at peace.

Auntiji 1: Well I just went for a coffee and a slice of cake !!

Auntiji 2: Chalo (come)sit down and have a cup of tea and tell me what those Bandhan ladies have done this time ?!?🙄

Auntiji 1: Mai bolti kum hoo magar (I am not one for speaking but) as you are asking let me begin at the start. Kuch meetha hai chai ke saath (do you have anything sweet to go with the tea)?

I thought after the Bollywood night and the New Year’s Eve Party they would know what they were doing. It doesn’t take much does it to make a cup of tea and buy a cake from Sainsbury. Do you agree?

Auntiji 2; Well to be honest I went to both of those events and don’t recall seeing you there ? Aap busy the? (Were you busy?)My husband , our children, our grandchildren, our neighbours we all had a great time. Even the PM came !!

Auntiji 1: Bhenji (sister)I think you mean the MP🙄

Anyway back to meri kahani (my story)…. yes I would like more tea please.

• Well you know how normally at apne functions everything runs late – well kya kahu…sub time par aiye except me!! Mujhe kya pata tha yeh sub modern ho gaye (I didn’t realise they had all become modern)!! Yes yes they may just be well mannered people.

• Then the organisers – Suman, Sati, Rekha and Poonam were so nice and had planned everything. How can they be so nice ? They think of everything.

• Then there were others , you know some volunteer type log who were helping out and being kind and community minded (yeh mere bas ki baat nahin hain – I’m not that way inclined).Let me think there was a Maya, another Rekha ( naam kitna common ho gaya 🙄- what a common name ), Preeti, Induji, Misha and some young girl called Sunaina doing mehendi –henna ( was it a wedding !!). Oh do you like the design she’s done … it’s very intricate don’t you think ?

• Then Rekha P did some meditation. I know what you’re thinking… I did enjoy it but my mind kept on going to all the food that was there. Perhaps I should have tried harder.

• Then we did bingo … it was fun. And very cheap to play you know. I nearly won you know !

• And to top it all off we had apple pie/coconut sponge and lemon cakes/pakora/dhokra and other bits.Ok so they were delicious but I am sure my Victoria sponge is better. Ok so it’s been over 20years since I baked but I was just saying.

• And do you know what those Bandhan girls did … they let some men attend. Even a little young man. Yes yes I know one of them was my husband but that’s not the point. Yes it was nice to have a mix of people there. You know what people do … they talk! But the gup shup (chit chat)was very entertaining indeed.

Auntiji 1: And you know I wanted to see for myself that Suman lady I mentioned earlier. Everyone had been saying that she had the look of Olivia Coleman and was quite regal looking. Mai jhoot nahi bolti (I’m not lying)but log were absolutely correct. I think that meditation is making me a nicer person you know 💕.

Auntiji 2: Didi aap such bol rahi ho ( sister you are correct). I’ve also had so many messages saying she is such a good organiser. She should consider a career change but kya kare woh to doctor hai (what to do she is a doctor) 🙏🏽. She thought of everything- bin bags, a knife, trays for serving cakes, kitchen roll, lace tablecloths, spare food bags for people to take some food home (Oh I see you have some there – her coconut sponge cake and some dhokra – don’t confuse them) , sellotape and blue TAC. Literally everything.👍🏽

Auntiji 1: Do you think she would help with my Sunny’s wedding?? Why are you so quiet?

Auntiji 2: Looks like you had a horrible time meeting old friends … the bathroom…, it’s over to the left. Apne aaj jaada chai pee hai (did you drink too much tea) ?😉

Auntiji 1: No no I didn’t say that I did not enjoy. I was just saying ….. yes a little too much chai 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Auntiji 2: I can make the next coffee morning so shall my husband and I pick you and Bhai up then?

Auntiji 1: Make sure you come nice and early … hum late nahin hona chahte (we don’t want to be late)!! Please apni diary me write karlo Friday 12th April. It starts at 10am so pick us up at 9am. It finishes at 12.30. Then afterwards perhaps we can have lunch at yours ?

Auntiji 2: We’ll see you at 9.45!!! We live in Bedford and the venue will be in Bedford. Unless you want to help ???

Auntiji 1: bye sweetie !! See you soon.

———————————————————

Don’t be like Auntiji 1

Be like Auntiji 2.

Come and create some memories with new and old friends.

You may meet an Uncleji or two 😂.

———————————————————

I ate chicken today and cried 🐓😢

Chicken ??

I thought you were a vegetarian. I am … always have been and will continue to be.

This is the very short story that is not letting me fall asleep tonight.

I decided to upgrade to business on my Air India flight from Kolkata to Delhi: charge my phone , use the WiFi , eat some more .. be rude not to.

All settled in and we’re off. Lunch is to be served and I opted for the paneer option.The loaded tray arrives with so much going on it. I take a fork full of rice and a small piece of the paneer curry. This paneer is funny 🤔. I don’t like it. Then it dawns on me that it isn’t paneer afterall. I poke around in the dish and find chicken. I am traumatised as is probably the air stewardess and the gentleman to my left 🤦🏽‍♀️ I said in a whimper whilst tears were falling “I’ve never eaten meat and because of you I’ve just had a bit of chicken”. Some of you may say that’s rather careless of you Seema? Under normal circumstances one wouldn’t miss a chicken 🐓! But this was in a curry and I was expecting paneer. By the time I had eaten the small piece it was too late.

Had I done something to upset the gods? Anyway I can’t tell you why I cried for some time, but I did.

The stewardess says she’s a vegetarian too and is upset. The catering team had labelled the meal incorrectly. She replaced the tray. I swigged lots of water. She came back with a feedback form which I duly completed.Let’s see what they say, if anything or perhaps something along these lines…..

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… we were horrified to hear of your experience at the hand of our team. Please accept this basket of vegetables with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian…we understand you experienced some issues with our onboard catering. Please accept these business class tickets for two to a destination of your choice with our heartfelt apologies.

⁃ Dear Vegetarian… it was with some surprise that we received your complaint. We have asked for a thorough investigation and will ensure that one of the team gets back to you at the earliest opportunity.

I’m a forever vegetarian… I don’t want to change. I can’t stop thinking about it. How long will the chicken be inside me. It was only a small piece. Can someone please make sense of this. I think I have a tummy ache. My body is not used to it 😢🤬

🙏🏽

Seema

I also realised I have a real dislike of arrogant Indian businessmen (you’ll know when you see one). Rules are not just for the rest of us. Seriously if you don’t want to obey the flight rules just get your own jet. I digress…..🤷🏽‍♀️

TRADE SHOWS – I love them !!

Miles away from the UK I am seeing posts from ex colleagues and friends from Spring Fair and Ambiente. I have a slight twinge of jealousy but only because they brings back happy memories.

I started my journey with Spring Fair in 1989 and Ambiente in 1999.This will be the first year since then that I have not attended in some guise. I may be unusual in the fact that I actually relished the shows.It is a wonderful opportunity to show your wares in the best light possible – and with the money being spent on the stands you’d better make it work. It is also a chance to meet and reconnect with old friends, colleagues and business partners. No better opportunity than these shows to catch up with the industry barometer. It is also the time to brush up on your air kissing skills.

Some basics for shows -the show haircut and the show suit/dress. See how many you can spot! And don’t forget the sensible shoes and the Barocca. It’s about survival and unfortunately sometimes being sensible seems to be long forgotten.

Spring Fair would always mean consecutive nights out in Birmingham and the body progressively screaming for sleep. But no matter what, a day on the stand meant looking alert and behaving professionally. The food experience is best forgotten unless you are one of those that brought a packed lunch – yes I have seen this. And please tell me I am not the only one who has lost her car in that NEC car park. And then on a rare occasion the weather would cause mayhem but it would all be forgotten as the circus moved to Frankfurt.

You knew it was show time as you looked around the plane and clocked familiar faces and it certainly wasn’t a wedding party.It’s advisable to keep quiet during that short journey.

Ambiente provides the opportunity for buyers and sellers to come together from around the globe. There’s a definite buzz and a cacophony of different languages along the aisles. Love the visits on the stands from the most enthusiastic buyers who will spend hours and then ask for a price for 24pcs. Hours of waiting for that one meeting that makes it all worthwhile 😉. Patience is a skill that is needed in good amounts. Oh and those long pointless chats with your colleagues to fill the gaps. I know you like them but by day 5 enough is enough and home beckons.

As a vegetarian in Frankfurt I learnt to love cream cheese and cucumber. But GreenPan upped the stakes on the food front. I discovered that at Spring Fair when the show closes it closes – at Ambiente it’s the time to open the beers and nuts. And nights in Frankfurt during show time would not be complete without a night at a curry house and another at the Irish Bar and definitely one where I would watch others eat hunks of meat!!🤦🏽‍♀️

All that said it’s about getting those listings for the exhibitors and finding that next big thing for the buyers … before your rival!!!

Good luck to all those … hard core show attendees flitting from Birmingham to Frankfurt to Chicago.

Seema