Children of the poor

I went to the movie Lion, last week and loved it. It is the true story of  five-year-old Saroo, an  Indian boy who gets lost and falls asleep on a train and ends up 1200 miles from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Sunny Pawar, as the five year old Saroo is utterly captivating. And of course the grown up Saroo is played by the gorgeous Dev Patel. Take your tissues.

I have been to India and the sight of this tiny chap alone in Calcutta is unbearable and unbelievable if you didn’t know it was true. I highly recommend the movie. As the credits roll you see that 80,000 children are “lost” in India each year. One short scene is really frightening as you see a group of little children huddled together in the underground and a group of men swoop on them with batons and carry them off, the children screaming in terror.

By coincidence and if that wasn’t enough to ruminate about, our book club book this month is called Little Princes and I was hooked pretty much from the first page. Again, this is a true story written by Connor Grennan, a young American who takes a year off to travel but goes to a Nepalese orphanage for three months first to “justify” going. One of the things I loved about Conor was his ability to be truthful about himself and his motives. Conor in many ways was an ordinary bloke, enjoyed dating, socialising, watching sport and drinking beer with his mates and he was off on his OE adventure that didn’t turn out quite the way he planned. I really admire his integrity and persistence.


I so often become aware of things that were happening when I was an adult that I was so unaware of like the decade-long civil war in Nepal (1996-2006) that claimed more than 13,000 lives. I am ashamed to say I was aware vaguely about this but had o idea that thousands of children were taken from their parents, some by the Maoist rebels to fight for them and some by child trafficking rings. This book is testimony to the fact that one person can change lives. The children are incredibly resilient in the face of appalling treatment, starvation and separation from families.

This joyful, heart-wrenching and ultimately hopeful story just enthralled me and I highly recommend it. Conor has set up his own organisation against child trafficking called Next Generation Nepal. 

I went to India, Syria and Nepal on my OE at the ripe old age of 23 and like Conor was naïve about other cultures and still am of course, as I didn’t live in these places. I was just a tourist moving through but even that short experience helped me picture the streets of Kathmandu and the poverty evident there.

I have always been interested in stories from India, like God of Small Things, A Fine Balance and my favourite, Midnight’s Children. If you enjoyed these then I think you would enjoy this true story. I read it in one sitting as I really wanted to know what happened. Book club is great for challenging me to read books I may not otherwise have looked at.

Happy viewing and reading, FG


Pussies Galore

I am so glad that the women’s marches are being held all over the globe, including Antarctica. Since the orange troll was “elected” I’ve felt very threatened on all kinds of fronts- as a mother, a woman, a human being. I really don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that democracy is being threatened. All references to climate change and civil rights have been taken off the White-House website, women are again already experiencing the colonisation of their bodies, taking us all back another 50 years. Trump is refusing to adhere to the constitution regarding his businesses, he won’t release his tax return and of course we all know why that is.  And so so much more.

It was so heartening to walk alongside a couple of thousand people in Auckland yesterday (even better if it had been a couple of hundred thousand) but at least it is a start.  I hope to help make sure that it is the start and not the end of activism against this despicable person and what he represents. As there were more at the Washington march than the inauguration, this gives me hope.

Auckland Women’s March 2017


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Antarctica division. Pussy hats certainly required down there.

Sometimes I think how little has changed- the media still wittering on about what the orange blob’s wife is wearing as opposed to what she is thinking (possibly not a lot to write about there in all fairness), the Washington social media pair in London go into the crowd to interview one of the thousands on the Women’s march and begin with a man… I feel despair when I see young women I know only ever posting pictures of themselves doing absolutely nothing and their friends sychophantically commenting “oh so cute babe” or “liking” plastic surgery for #$%^& sake. Their posts are all about brides and clothes and makeup, how I wish there was a balance on their pages that included some issues or politics occasionally. These are not teenagers but young women in their thirties; competent, clever women. I feel that I have failed these young women in not protecting them from the hogwash of women’s magazines, endless media portrayal of air brushed unreal women in child-bodies and the constant barrage of rubbish that says only the beautiful, young and usually white female is deserved of any attention. How can they help but feel they need to be “beautiful” when so little else is on offer. Maybe they reserve their politics and views for other forums though and I certainly hope so and I know what I see of young women on Facebook is very limited. I love the many feminist views of Sam’s friends and want to support these young ones in their resistance.

In 2017 women are still being paid 14 % less than men. Why are we all still sitting on our hands?

I don’t want to alienate these younger women because it is critical that they stand up for all women and the marches give me hope on that level too as they just may ignite the women’s movement to resist tyranny, bullying, violence against women and all that that entails. It just might encourage them to aim for CEO or go on a board or start their own businesses. It just might allow one beaten woman to seek support  before she is murdered. There is more than one woman per month being murdered by their partners each year in NZ.

Statistics from It’s Not OK-NZ

Partner abuse

50% of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) deaths occurred at the time of actual or intended separation. (9)

1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. (10)

76 per cent of recorded assaults against females are committed by an offender that is identified as family. (11)

In the four years from 2009 to 2012, 76% of intimate partner violence-related deaths were perpetrated by men, 24% were perpetrated by women. (12)

It is estimated that between 2-5% of the older population in New Zealand experience some form of elder abuse. (13)

And the US have elected a President who said this:

Donald J. Trump: You know and …

Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.

She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —

I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!


Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.


Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.


Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Bush: Uh, yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.

Trump: Oh, it looks good.

Bush: Come on shorty.

Trump: Ooh, nice legs, huh?

Bush: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that’s good legs. Go ahead.

I know you know all this and while I feel sick reprinting it, I don’t want this fudged and forgotten. I hope that women globally will resist this and all the rest of the bigotry, brutality, misogyny  for all women- daughters, grandmothers, in the US, in India, in NZ, in the Antarctica!

The symbol of resistance on the marches has been the pussy hat. Brilliant! Have pattern, will knit. If you want one, send me the wool and I’ll do it. This post seems so badly written, haphazard, disorganised, unstructured. But I need to say something and do so much more. Hopefully we can do this together. FG


New year, new me…. not.


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I love Patsy’s positivity but can’t quite convince myself. I have started the new year with some fun cycling and playing golf but find to my dismay I haven’t read a thing. I spend far too much time on FB and the like.

My cycling began at Horopito where my friend Jules lives.It is supposed to be “Easy plus” and it wasn’t until later that I realised there was a further category called, “Easiest”. As it was the old coach road, it was pretty bumpy and a bit nerve-wracking and I am not an experienced bike rider but the gel seat was a bonus. Anyway, we made it it quite satisfactorily and the drink at the Ohakune pub helped to make it worthwhile


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After that I tackled the lovely flat cycling all around Napier. Not only is it flat but there are nice cafes along the way. I find I don’t need a challenge to enjoy it and am more than happy with the smooth, flat gravel. I think I even spied a white heron.

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Napier also has some great restaurants like Pacifica where its degustation menu is a mere $50.00. I can highly recommend it!


I enjoyed Napier so much I admit to browsing the real estate magazines.

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Just before Christmas there was an interesting article on the radio about the David Trubridge lights in the redwoods in Rotorua so I wanted to check them out. The drive there was a bit of a mission as my co-driver decided that the 100 kms of gravel via Lake Waikaremoana would be worth it. It was an experience but I’m not in a hurry to repeat it any time soon.


We bought the day and night combo for the lights and it was well worth it. The swing bridges are high in the trees and its fun to walk along them and look down at other lighting as well as the Trubridge ones.

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By day it is interesting to walk high among the redwoods and read about the construction of the whole area. As an aside, it was pretty busy and I was thinking something like this in Northland might boost the economy. I’m please to see they have nearly completed a twin coast cycle way up there. The Otago rail trail has been described as a river of gold for that area so it would be great to see some money going into the pockets of locals up north where poverty is a major issue.



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Even the toilets are trendy.

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While in Rotorua we also visited the buried village, a first for me. The Tarawera eruption and the destruction of the the pink and white terraces is a fascinating story. One of the best bits though, was the waterfall that has a cursory mention on a sign basically saying that if you can be bothered it’s five minutes down a track. Totally worth the fifteen minutes or so to explore there.

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On the way home this time we played golf and ate fish and chips at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel and Golf Course, no strippers were in evidence. its such a pretty course and then to sit on the verandah of the pub with my fish and chips and a citrus beer was great.

It’s always lovely to come home though and  I am enjoying the living wall growth that happened while I was away. I’m planning a short trip away next week as well and it is one of my aims this year to make the most of the summer and get away for weekends. Indulgent aim and a bit short on self-improvement…


Sam gave me a lovely calendar for Christmas though, so I look at it each day. It says for this month- create your own calm. I’m working on it. Happy January. FG