Love-story with… India

Considering that I now have a lot of Indian readers (5, that’s a lot, and my favorite number! ;-)), I thought I’d tell my love-story with India in this brand new Friday series, also because it’s a very old story, maybe older than my love-story with Writing Fiction.

"Idian Tales"

It all started during childhood, with the works of Emilio Salgari, a 19th century writer who never went outside of Italy but could paint vivid pictures of foreign countries, such as his Wild Frontier (western) trilogy, his Corsairs and the Pirates of the Malaysia, which had a spin-off set in (of course) India. I read the abridged version of The Mystery of The Black Jungle (illustrated version for children) and just loved those drawings (even if reading as an adult I found out the illustrations didn’t really follow Salgari’s descriptions, but never mind. I’ll look for the unabridged version some day, eventually). Along with it, we had a collection of fairy tales and stories and mythologies from all over the world which included what I called “The City of the Elephants” (from the first “chapter” title) and recently discovered was an abridged, illustrated version of nonetheless than the Mahabharat! Those illustrated books of gods and Thugs and giants and beautiful maidens in saris started a dream, fueled in the 1970s by a TV series called Maya that I saw both in French and Italian (and first in B&W because we didn’t have a color TV, then discovered it was in colors when we came back to Italy and bought a new TV in1978).Β  I just loved Terry Bowen (Jay North), but mostly Raji (Sajid Khan – BTW is he related to any of the most famous Bollywood Khans? I doubt it, but you can tell me…) and his elephant, Maya (one of the reasons why I loved Duran Duran’s Save a prayer video with the elephant – I know, that one was shot in Sri Lanka, but still…). The first (and still the only one, I’m afraid) word of Hindi, “NamastΓ¨”, I learned it from that TV series…

Then there was Kabir Bedi as Sandokan (from Salgari’s book Pirates of the Malaysia), again late 1070s. Then I discovered Mira Nair and Kama Sutra a tale of love (1996, with Naveen Andrews long before Lost or Bride and Prejudice – and looking much better, by the way).

"Indian Tales"

Fast forward to the new Millennium. Books of the Immortals – Air is set in a fictional world inspired by India and Persia, and the elephant character is called – uhm – Maya. A homage, not a rip-off, I swear. I still have to get close enough to an elephant to be like Raji (or my character Kumar), but there’s always time. I have added India to my “to visit” countries a few years ago, but haven’t managed to get there yet. I have met a couple of Indians at Day Job and lot more among you bloggers (hello, Jai, Hema, Shafali, Keshav, Ajay and the Karela Split guys, including my favorite ghost Gorakh Nath!), so curiosity is rising. And yes, I discovered Bollywood, but that’s another post (not for this series, even if it is another love-story. But I already told it).

So hopefully 2012 will see me set foot in India, unless in 2011, on my way Down Under, to break the long journey, I stop in New Delhi for a day or two… my friend says she “isn’t ready” to see India yet, so we’ll see. I welcome suggestions for places to see and also for the best time of the year for someone who has low blood pressure and can’t stand the heat. I’ve been told December and January are the best months, but you tell me now…

"Indian Tales" (Mahabharat) - illustrator unknown



  1. I LOVED Maya, Barb. What a coincidence! And like you I have a fascination with things Indian. I had a penfriend in Bombay as a kid and he sent me the most beautifully embroidered scarlet pashmina which I still wear when I go out in the evenings. That relationship created my interest in the country.

    I have vicariously travelled through India lately with the most wonderful TV docos: Michael Palin’s Around the World in Twenty Years, The Ganges, Kevin Mc Leod in India. And let’s not forget Slumdog Millionaire or Bride and Prejudice.

    I love Bollywood too. And I even enrolled to learn Bollywood dancing last year but the instructor became ill and the classes were postponed.

    So I can’t wait to read an Indian fable that you have created yourself or to hear that you have finally visited the place that fascinates you so much.


    • I loved the Raj part of Eirie for this reason! πŸ˜€ (that’s why my character Bianca went to the Masked Ball with a Raj prince! ;-))
      Air will definitely be out next year, as soon as I have a pro-editor copy-edit it… my friend is working on a cover, I gave her Aishwarya Rai as a model…
      Will keep you posted on my love-story with India!
      (and “Maya” was actually form the 60s, even if I watched it in the 70s, so it’s just for ladies like us, haha!)


  2. Barb, I well understand your love of India. My family comes from India and though I was born and brought up in the UK, I always had a yearning for India. Recently I was asked if my longing for the UK eclipsed my longing for India and I had to explain the delicate difference between the two. Both have places in my heart but India is my motherland, the origin of my heritage. I’ll never be free of that.

    I hope you have your wish to visit India fulifilled. It’s a shock no matter how much you try to prepare yourself. My advice is not to spend too much time in the big cities. I hate the big cities! You can go pretty much anywhere else and be stunned at the neverending beauty around you in everyday things.



    • I might have been Indian in a previous life, considering my attraction to the country! πŸ˜‰
      I will probably have to do the touristic stuff… at least at first. We’ll see – maybe I can find a less “touristic” tour operator, like GoNativeAmerica for the US…


  3. Ah, Barb, thanks for directing me to this post. I enjoyed it immensely. Not only because it is about India, but because I too have these inexplicable bonds with many a country — like you say, maybe that’s a post I need to think about for my blog.

    I sincerely hope you get your wish to go to India soon — and however much you prepaare for it, you’ll still be stunned (both in good and bad ways , frankly :)). So, it’s best ot jump in without too much mulling over it.

    As for my chronicling my trip, hope it lives up to the expectations you have built up inside your heart! πŸ™‚


    • You were away when I posted it, but I thought you needed to read it! πŸ˜‰
      I enjoyed even Jai Joshi’s mystery trip, so why shouldn’t I enjoy your travel journal… Looking forward to it!
      Travel journals are always interesting, I think. I should have written more about my trips to the US or other countries… well, I’ll post my trip to Australia at the end of the year!
      To more New Year’s Resolutions like this! πŸ˜€


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