Well, it started with a story.
To be precise it was Ashwin and Diya’s story. I was managing the BEE Books stall (Hall 2, Stall 627), like I had been asked to for the International Kolkata Book Fair 2017 and in walked our in-house editor, Sugandha along with the delegates all the way from Wales.
She was coordinator of the Valley, the City and the Village Project. (In office, we started referring to it as the VCV Project.) I remembered meeting the publisher of Parthian Books, Richard Davis, a few months before. And I remembered having met Gary Raymond. I was delighted that they remembered me too. When asked what I had been up to lately, I told Richard that I’d written a new novel and it had been published by BEE Books. It was called AllSigns Lead Back to You. He was delighted, bought a copy promptly and asked me to sign it for him. Needless to say I was delighted too.
What I never anticipated was that he would finish reading the book during the length of his stay in Kolkata and be impressed by the tale I had concocted about first love and second chances. So much so that when I met him (on my way to collect the Queen Bee to go to a wedding function), that he wanted me to come with them to Wales and be a part of the VCV Project as an author! And I remembered being extremely overwhelmed by his offer.
Any fool would have jumped at the opportunity to travel to Wales. Experience a new country and write about how places inspire people. But I am the biggest fool that you could have ever come across. Also, my terror of flights made me dillydally on the offer for quite some time. I missed a wonderful dinner too because I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to travel all the way to Wales or not. I had a wonderful friend convincing me every minute of every day that it was a wonderful opportunity and that my fear of the stage shouldn’t be a problem. Because no matter what happened, no one back home would come to know about it!
Then started filling out the VISA applications. The interviews and running back and forth, making sure that all my documents was in place. It didn’t help that BEE Books chose that very time to undergo renovations and so I was mostly working out of my home. It also didn’t help that I was caught up in quite a problematic personal relationship. But being the eternal optimist that I am, I thought everything would blow over soon. Well, the relationship ended but my belief that there’s someone out there tailor made for me did not go away. And I really don’t think it ever will. But I am deviating. This is the story about how I ended up where I am right now.
We applied for our VISAs, kept India-Wales Project mostly a secret as we feverishly prayed for our VISAs to come through. In the meantime, I discovered my name in a list of panellists for Hay Festival 2017. Imagine my excitement and happiness when I realized Neil Gaiman would be there!!! If I can hold a five second conversation with that man I’d die a happy woman, having checked an important point off my bucket list.
Our VISAs arrived and we started packing for the trip to Wales. Right now, I am in the twelve hour flight from Delhi to London. My fear of flights reduced, and my friend and I had sandwiched an old man who refused to budge from the middle seat! I know by the time I put up this blog post I’d probably be in London or Wales. But wherever I am, please know that I am grateful and happy that a story I wrote (based on my own screwed up experiences), which ultimately led to this wonderful opportunity which I am sure is just the stepping stone to a whole new world that leads to a spectacular life!
P.S. Even though all the things that are happening to me are truly amazing, I still haven’t give up the hope and never will, that my Prince Charming is right around the corner. 😊