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Dianne Noble tells us about India and her new release: A Hundred Hands.

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I am delighted to welcome author and fellow ‘Belmont Belle’ Dianne Noble, to my blog today as one of the stops on her current tour promoting her book: ‘A Hundred Hands’ and to tell us of some of her experiences in India. Take it away Dianne :

 

India is an assault on the senses.

My shirt sticks to my back as I edge round a goat, swatting at flies, coughing as the smoke from pavement cooking fires catches in my throat. After four hours of threadbare sleep I’m fighting my way round Kolkata, India, trying to find the group of street children I’m here to teach English to.

The noise makes my ears hurt – shouting, blaring of horns, backfiring buses. A cow stands in the road, munching impassively on a discarded newspaper, and traffic edges round it. This creature is holy. If a driver were to run into it he would be dragged from his car by an angry crowd and beaten up. The heat beats on my head like a hammer as I search among blackened buildings whose stonework crumbles like stale cake. I smell spices and sewage and urine evaporating in hot sun.

That must be the place. It takes me an age to cross the road, weaving between rickshaws, yellow taxis, tuk tuks festooned with dusty tinsel. The children are so tiny – malnourished – with bare feet, cropped hair and laddered ribs, but they shriek with laughter when I try to speak to them in Hindi. They stroke the pale skin of my arms and clamber on to my knees as I sit, cross-legged and crampy, on the bare earth floor. They are a joy, desperate to learn English, desperate to improve their position at the bottom of the luck ladder.

When I get back to my small room that evening my feet are gritty and blistered, my chest is raw with exhaust fumes and I’m filthy. Sweat makes white rivulets down the dirt on my face and I feel, and doubtless smell, rank.

By the end of my first week I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of the poverty, despairing at the smallness of my contribution. How can I possibly do this for three whole months? Whatever had I been thinking of?

I start a journal and at the end of every day, no matter how tired I am, I write down every detail of my day – how the children are progressing, who made me laugh, how much their poor chests rattle, who has the worst sores. It’s a sort of de-briefing and I find it cathartic as I realise that I’m surrounded every day by happy, smiling children. I hear laughter everywhere I go in this dreadful place and the Bengali men and women get used to seeing me, wave and call out ‘Hello, Aunty’ (a term of respect for women of a certain age!) At the wayside shrine even jolly, elephant-headed Ganesh wears a broad grin.

My diary covers three months and forms the basis for A Hundred Hands, which tells the story of Polly who saw the plight of the children living on the streets and stayed to help.

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Excerpt

Dev, the rescued apprentice, gave her a shy smile. ‘Aeroplane too fat, Aunty.’

She nodded in agreement. That wasn’t its only shortcoming but the boy probably didn’t have the words for the rest. She looked down at his legs, still marbled with yellow iodine splodges, but his body had begun to fill out and his eyes were bright. She had been afraid he wouldn’t be strong enough to resist off the bug. Leaning over, she hugged him in gratitude. An avalanche of children, also wanting a hug, tumbled her backwards, and laughing, to the floor.

While they went to wash for lunch she tried to Sellotape their pictures to the wall but sagged in defeat. The walls were too damp. Nothing bloody simple in this place. She sighed then gathered herself. Once she could get out again she’d track down some drawing pins.

The children ate their rice and lentils with a good deal more relish than her offerings of the previous day. She watched them anxiously but there were no signs of illness. Kept checking her phone but still no message. She pictured the three of them in the hospital, attached to drips, and hoped hard that Finlay and Shushma would be all right.

Once she’d plugged in the radio for the girls, and could hear the flat thumps and shouts of football, she went to look for Babita. She was crouched against the bathroom wall, white-faced and shivering.

Polly knelt beside her, stroked her hair. ‘You sick?’

She nodded, eyes brimming with tears.

Diarrhoea?’

Blank look.

Lot of toilets?’

She shook her head.

Polly carried her into Finlay’s bedroom, fetched blankets, bowl and water, and once she had settled the girl scrubbed her hands, yet again, wincing. Right, plans would have to be changed. No cleaning today, or laundry, and just plain rice for tea. She could manage that.

Polly looked at Babita with apprehension, hoping she hadn’t infected anyone else. She rubbed her face. Her head ached and her eyes felt gritty. At least they had power and the fans were circulating the air.

Opening the fridge, she saw one lonely bottle of water on the shelf. Oh, sod it. Now what? She thought for a moment. She’d just have to boil tap water and let it cool, there was no other option. She would, however, boil it for an extremely long time. In the meantime she’d just have to drink coffee and sweat, save that last bottle for emergencies.

Blurb

Following her husband’s arrest, Polly is forced to flee her small Welsh village. While she is in India visiting an old school friend she meets an older man, Finlay.

She is hugely affected by the way he is trying to alleviate the terrible suffering of Kolkata’s children who live on the streets in poverty and deprivation. As she becomes more involved in the day to day work she begins to fall in love with him. Together they share the heartbreak and also the happiness.

Then something changes and Polly begins to believe Finlay is hiding the same dreadful secret she ran away from.

Buy links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ePQS07

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2e9954H

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/669126?ref=cw1985

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-hundred-hands/id1161101503?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=9781370663460

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-hundred-hands-dianne-noble/1124723028

diannenoble

BIO

I think I became a reader before I could walk. While other people had childhood memories, I amassed a vocabulary. I was born into a service family and at the tender age of seven found myself on the Dunera, a troopship, sailing for a three year posting to Singapore. So began a lifetime of wandering – and fifteen different schools. Teen years living in Cyprus, before partition, when the country was swarming with handsome UN soldiers, and then marriage to a Civil Engineer who whisked me away to the Arabian Gulf.

Most of the following years were spent as a single parent with an employment history which ranged from the British Embassy in Bahrain to a goods picker, complete with steel toe-capped boots, in an Argos warehouse. In between I earned my keep as a cashier in Barclays, a radio presenter and a café proprietor on the sea front in Penzance. All good material for an author!

I always enjoyed writing and kept a journal whenever I travelled abroad, but it wasn’t until I retired I had the chance to write a book. My first novel Outcast was published as an ebook in March 2016 by Tirgearr – after 32 rejections! This has been followed by A Hundred Hands. Both books are set in India and are based on the diaries I kept when I did voluntary work one winter, teaching English to street children in Kolkata.

Web and social links:

www.dianneanoble.com

www.facebook.com/dianneanoble

www.twitter.com/dianneanoble1

*****

 

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/dianne-noble-2/

 

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b9ec5be173/?

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