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4 December 2010 ·

Arriving in Delhi!

I’m just back from six days in New Delhi for the amazing Bookaroo Festival. I’d never been to India before, and my head is still reeling from the mass of impressions, sensations and memories, as well as the usual conference buzz – not to mention jetlag.
Landing in New Delhi, my first impression was that there was something wrong with the aircraft windows, as they seemed to be stained yellow. Nope: that was the atmosphere.
But not in our scented-air hotel! A true oasis of comfort after braving the streets of Delhi (you’ve got to understand that I don’t even go to my Melbourne, my nearest city, very often.) However there is a downside (apart from unrealistic expectations next time I’m paying for myself): the pictures don’t show the intense security screening of each car entering the gates, and of ourselves, each time we entered the hotel. Sobering.

Figuring that with such a short time, we couldn’t waste any of it, we got a taxi to the Qutub Minar, an ancient tower and surrounding complex: a beautiful and surprisingly serene place. Unfortunately my camera, unimpressed by history, chose this moment to break down.
Resisting our driver’s enticements to go shopping, we then headed off to the home of one of Bookaroo’s co-ordinators: an interesting journey involving many phone calls, stops to ask directions, U turns, more requests for directions, and some angst from the embarrassed taxi driver. Finally, our host running into the middle of the road to wave us down was the clue that we were there; we went in, and our driver went to get his own dinner, and then wait till we were ready to go home. What a luxury!
Tom fell asleep in his chair before dinner, and I don’t think I was terribly coherent, but loved making new friends as we met Cindy Jefferies (author of the Fame School series), Wendy Cooling (having two Wendy’s confused many people over the next few days!) and Alice Burden, the lovely UK Walker Books Publicity manager.
“We landed at the same time!” she said suddenly, pointing to my crumpled but comfily flowing cotton skirt. “Your skirt was the first thing I noticed in India, even before the smog!”
As we were constantly advised, expect the unexpected: even being part of someone else’s impression of India.

 Cindy Jefferies, and me with a new 4-legged friend.

following autorickshaws in our taxi


  1. Aussie Writers Thanks for this post. Such an interesting place, India. Looks like the country left a dramatic impression on you:-) Have you read the book, Shantaram?
    December 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm · Reply
  2. Wendy No, meant to when it came out, then it slipped from my mind. Now adding it to my India reading list!

    Most powerful book I read pre-trip was Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. Not exactly cheery, but wonderful.
    December 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm · Reply
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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio