Tag Archives: Canada

Extract from a work in progress

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I am at last working on a story I had started way back in 1994! It’s also my first novella set in Halifax. I have written one short story set in Lunenburg County in Nova Scotia, and you can read that here, it’s titled A Rhyme and a Reason, the first thriller I have ever attempted.

And now, here’s a peek into a tale to be…

As she approached Scotia Square, Meera looked around seeing everything afresh. She marvelled at the old buildings standing amiably next to newer glass and concrete structures. The red brick and the sombre grey, articulated doorways with raised eyebrows looking forever down their noses at the large plate glass of some upstart new high-rise. Thankfully, there weren’t too many high-rise buildings here. There was an olde-worlde charm she hadn’t noticed before. It’s quite a beautiful old street, she thought. I’ve never really looked at it properly. A bit like Calcutta. Almost straight out of Dickens! Then she smiled, trust me to think of Dickens. I used to think it was a dreary grey English sort of street, which it is, but now I have a job and it takes on a romantic air. I am so, so, lucky. It’s been less than three months since we arrived and I have a job. Part time too, the most wonderful part of all. I can fix dinner, do the housework, make lunch… the plans started to fall into place. I’ll tell Ajoy that now we must do the laundry just once a week. Oh, God! A number two. My bus!

She almost shouted out aloud. Then lifting her sari slightly, displaying silver anklets worn over skin-tone knee-high nylon stockings, she ran to catch her bus. ‘I have a job’ the chorus in her head came to a crashing crescendo as she clambered up the steps and tossed the coins into the receptacle with a flourish. I’m an expert at doing that already. How Canadian will I get? She wondered. Will I ever wear pants? I may have to when it gets really cold. A dress? Never! It must be so strange to have all that cold air going up your legs, oof! She shuddered at the thought of it.

When she reached her stop, Meera almost ran up to the strip mall on at Lacewood and Vimy, where Ajoy had recently established their video rental store. She pushed through the door, he had a couple of older customers and was deep in conversation. so she wandered to the side and looked at the list of videos on offer. Through the corner of her eyes, she watched him speaking with animated gestures to his enchanted audience. Her heart skipped a beat, he had grown old so suddenly. The hair at his temples had begun to grey and there was a thinning patch at the crown of his head. His large soulful eyes, usually edged by laugh lines, had begun to droop in the three months since they had come to Halifax.

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The Cactus Blooms

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My publisher, Ex-L-Ence Publishing has a brand new website, from which you can now purchase directly. However, if you prefer to purchase your books on Amazon, there is a link on the page to take you there too.

Here’s an extract from Desert Flower… perhaps it will tempt those who haven’t read it yet to do so.

This time I entered the majlis quietly, slipping through the archway, less than a shadow, less than a breath. My face was properly covered with the niqab drawn across it. I had pinned it in place to make sure my face would not be exposed. After all, this was a foreigner who had come to the house, not another person from the Arabian Gulf, a Khaleeji, which if it were, of course, I wouldn’t have been called. This time my black abaya shrouded my entire body. All that was exposed were my eyes. I could see that the stranger was drinking a small cup of gahwa, our thick, rich coffee, and a small piece of baklawa. The fine pastry stuffed with pistachio nuts that I had the cook make that very day lay untouched on his plate. Eihab’s mother had seen that the servant had provided that.

And now that my frantically beating heart was somewhat stilled I had my voice under control too. I inclined my head slightly in a silent salaam and raised my right hand just a little.

“Have you got your wits about you?” Father asked gruffly.

Read the rest of this entry

Shenanigans gone awry

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When I chose to work in advertising so many years ago I had no idea at the time that it would prove to be so much utter, unmitigated, idiotic fun. Someone, somewhere looked down on me and decided that I needed to come out of the shy shell (yes, those of you who know me now mayn’t believe it but I was once painfully shy) in which I enclosed myself. It was a self that smiled and giggled internally. The giggling I must confess sometimes burst out of control. And then I laughed with such abandon that those around me joined in even when they didn’t know what I was laughing about.

School friends, classmates… you remember. don’t you? In fact recently I met an old friend who asked me, “What happened? When did this personality change take place?”

Blame it on advertising. Blame it on the Creative Department. Read the rest of this entry

Memories

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In search of material from the past one comes across a mood that suddenly finds resonance in the present. It’s not prophetic but it stirs an old emotion and I wrote it when I first knew we were going to Canada. I was apprehensive at the time, not knowing then, what I know now, that I was embarking on one of the best times of my life.

Having said that, I feel that those of us who come to the Middle East, even if we put down roots here, imbibe something from the shifting sands that enters our spirits and stirs a restlessness within us that eventually makes nomads of us all. Where, beneath this great dome of sky, will I eventually pitch that tent that never needs to be unpegged again? I have sand in my toes.

A Farewell

Goodbye people of this clime

It’s time to leave you

My watch is over

The grains of rice

Destined for me, are eaten.

No more grains on these plates

Come with my name written on them.

 

I have drunk deep

Of your waters, and long.

A thirst in my heart

Has been quenched.

And now a gnawing hunger

For other pastures

Feeds at my soul.

 

I must leave

The writ has been sent

Am I manumitted now?

Or do I go to another master

Another slavery?

 

The only freedom I yearn for

Is the final escape from life

When I will hunger no more,

Nor thirst.

 

I see your trees your wastelands

Your messy beaches, your prim hotels

I know your petty interests

Your magnanimous natures

I’ve grown to love them all

And I’ve grown to love them well.

 

But I must leave now

For I can hear the sirens calling

Midnight beckons

With its own sweet, soft music

Which I must follow

Towards the harsh light

The unforgiving break of day.

Of Woods & A Woodpecker

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E-mail exchanges give rise to some goofing around for me. Here’s a little joke that is perhaps doing the rounds,

Two Woodpeckers

Mail Attachment10This Mexican woodpecker and a Canadian woodpecker were in Mexico arguing about which country had the toughest trees.
The Mexican woodpecker claimed Mexico had a tree that no woodpecker could peck.

The Canadian woodpecker accepted his challenge and promptly pecked a hole in the tree with no problem.

The Mexican woodpecker was amazed.

The Canadian woodpecker then challenged the Mexican woodpecker to peck a tree in Canada that was absolutely ‘impeccable’ (a term frequently used by woodpeckers).

The Mexican woodpecker expressed confidence that he could do it and accepted the challenge.

The two of them flew to Canada where the Mexican woodpecker successfully pecked
the so-called ‘impeccable’ tree almost without breaking a sweat…

Both woodpeckers were now terribly confused.

How is it that the Canadian woodpecker was able to peck the Mexican tree, and the Mexican woodpecker was able to peck the Canadian tree, yet neither was able to peck the tree in their own country?

After much woodpecker pondering, they both came to the same conclusion:
Apparently, Tiger Woods and Shane Warne were right, when they said,
“your pecker gets harder when you’re away from home”.

This resulted in the following rhyme from yours truly:

Mail Attachment9How much wood, would a woodpecker peck
When a woodpecker pecks a tree?
As much wood as Tiger Woods would
When Tiger Woods drives off from a tee!
And the ball, as happens to many a ball,
Goes whizzing into a tree.
And knocks out a piece as big as yer fist
While Woods, of course is pissed!
So is our woodpecker pecking the tree
For he’s been struck in the head like a tee
And his pecker’s been put out of joint
So he screams at the top of his voice and says
“Yer s’posed to get to the pin ya git!
Don’t you know that that’s the point?”
“I know,” says Woods who’s in a bit of a dither
“But my iron’s not as hard as my pecker.”

Corporate Dance

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It happens in every office. You notice it especially when the first half of the year draws closer to its end. The little dance. The schmooze sessions. The “let’s do lunch!”

These little scenes prompted a poem called Corporate Dance in my collection Corpoetry. See how the ‘chaps’ fall in step with the boss. Watch the ladies sashay along. They’re so in sync that it’s like a choreographed performance. Not Bollywood dancing. This is more subtle. Like a tango. The challenge. The turn your face the other way, but exchange a look. It has all the verve of old-fashioned ballroom dancing and a lot of very clever footwork – both literal and metaphorical.

Putting together the collection of poems that grew into  Corpoetry was so much fun. Once the poems began to flow I couldn’t turn a corner in the offices that I worked in when I didn’t find yet another situation that prompted a poem. Sometimes reading the news – especially during that financial crisis – brought on a poem like Big Cheeses which prompted Bob Cubitt’s wonderful review. I still keep thinking that if you, as a reader, have a situation, do please send it to me and I’ll create a poem for you. Who knows, we might end up with Corpoetry Two!

corp dance

 

The swinging 60’s

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Before I crossed that threshold – 60 years – I thought I’d be dead by then. In fact I remember as a teenager wondering if I’d ever reach the ‘ripe old age’ of forty. Now, here I am just a few years short of completing the end of yet another decade and I find that life, people and the world at large are still fascinating. One learns something new all the time; it’s so true that I cease to think of it as a cliché.

Then my mind wanders to the semantics of the differences or similarities between a cliché and a truism and I look in the mirror and say ‘focus, woman, focus’. The reality of the additional years land a sharp whack to my solar plexus and dictionary.com comes handily to my assistance. Even so, the topic I wish to write about is life after sixty. Believe me friends, it happens.

Check out the wonderful worldwide uncle or aunty Google and there are stories about people making new beginnings at fifty, sixty, seventy and even older. There’s a tale of a lady who was a chemist who turned to stand-up comedy at 74. Another is a woman who turned to modelling – catwalk no less – in her eighties. Other news items hand out advice on what to do in order to enjoy your ‘sunset’ years.

Whether it’s a conscious decision or something that circumstances or age force upon you, it seems, that come 60, a number of folk out there are doing new and different things. Some of us feel that we’re not needed by the kids quite as much as before. Let’s learn a new language. Others continue to work at their jobs while enjoying their sports. Yet others decide to get back onto that hobbyhorse and start rocking it.

Like my friend David. He’s taken his singing and music to another level. David was always that great party guest who could be relied upon to bring along his guitar and really get a party going. Foot stamping sing-alongs would ensue well into the night.

As often happens to many a hobby that becomes a passion, once it’s offered to the world at large, it can really strike a chord when it finds an audience. And, as anyone who gives in to a passion knows, when you connect with a complete stranger across a crowded room…it’s magic.

Well done David! I’m a fan.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhGmE4ESkrdi0p4CaAjrTEy7VKTmGSKB-

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhGmE4ESkrdjscfxIgvOAyRW36kXrqM23

and if you want to find out more about him you can click the link below

http://www.troubador.ca/Welcome.html

Desert Flower blooms!

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As with so much of my writing, a chance remark, a question, a comment, often sets me off and before I know it, usually out comes a poem, sometimes a rant, sometimes a story.

And that’s how I came to write Desert Flower.

I had just started working at the Chronicle Herald, we were based in Dartmouth at the time, when I was surrounded by some colleagues all mildly intrigued by me. I guess I was something of a curiosity. The fact that I was “from away” in itself was strange. India, they had all heard of. But, Bahrain! “Where on earth was that?”

Some colleagues told me they couldn’t comprehend the heat I was talking about. And there I was, in the throes of trying to wrap my mind, my arms and my shawl (worn over my sweater, further fortified by stockings on my feet) around how cold it was and that was the middle of May.

“So, how hot does it really get?” One colleague asked me.

I started to explain it to him and then I thought. ‘I’m a writer. Why don’t I write it down for him.’ So that day over lunch, I started to write. And before I knew it, this romance story, jumped on me, like a devil on my back and every lunch hour for the next two weeks I simply had to bash out this story. Until it was done.

By then it was June. The story had gone galloping off in its own direction, so of course the colleague who’d asked the question never saw this. But I did share it with some of my other colleagues who thoroughly enjoyed it. It was too long to be a short story and too short to be a novella so it lay with me until I returned to Bahrain and shared it with some of my young Bahraini colleagues.

“You have to publish it”, they insisted.

“How do you know about so many of our old traditions? Like the ‘mashata, the dallal…”

“These are being forgotten…”

Finally, I was able to publish it. But that’s why, the opening lines are…

How can I explain that sort of heat to you?

Dry. The air so hot you can hardly breathe. The sun: a high, burning, intense fire in the heavens. You can’t look up to see it. It is shrouded in a heat haze, so that although one is aware of a single heat source, the entire dome above seems like a pulsating radiator reflecting that relentless heat back to the baking earth below.

In such a land nothing lives, save a few daring palms that would cheat the heat, and not let it extract their moisture by thickening their trunks and shredding their leaves, or scrub trees, those tenacious acacias – gnarled and thorny, husbanding their water and sap, even their chlorophyll into the tiniest imaginable leaflets – extracting from the unforgiving environment more cleverly than Shylock, life. In this inexorably cruel environment, is it any wonder that trust is a precious commodity, almost as valuable as water?

And love? It is a rare jewel. It lives as the cactus flower, bright, showy and flamboyant, but only for a brief while. It is a thumbing of the nose, from that plump succulent stem with its spiny leaves, at the heat and wasteland around it.

Such was the love that I had found so very long ago on a tiny island, just east of Saudi Arabia, called Bahr’ein, because of its two seas, the salty one that flowed around it and the sweet water sea that lay hidden both underground and beneath the seabed. So much like us, we who call ourselves Bahraini, with our salty and crusty exteriors hiding the sweet softness beneath.”

You can read the rest at any of the links provided at my publisher’s page here: http://www.ex-l-ence.com/Desert-Flower.php

As for the pen name? Ah, that’s another story.

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The birth of Corpoetry

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About eighteen years ago a chance remark from a colleague at the Chronicle-Herald, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, sparked off a buzz that has now eventually found expression in a collection of fifty poems that I’ve titled Corpoetry.

We were discussing an ad concept, when we heard that extra boisterous forced laughter that one associates with laughing to please. “Ah!” my colleague and friend said, “Corporate Laughter”. I found the phrase amusing and apt. But it entered that odd space that exists inside our minds where tunes get trapped, phrases beep-n-bop around, lyrics of songs we don’t even like buzz and we can’t get rid of them. So ‘Corporate Laughter’ bumped around inside my head.

I tried to dislodge it by listening to old music. Next I recited old nursery rhymes. Nope. It was still there. Grinning like a gremlin, ‘Corporate Laughter’ it said and hooted into my sleep, my dreams, my quiet space. Nothing helped until I sat down and wrote the first poem in what is my now published collection: Corpoetry. Then, like a deflated balloon it shrank to nothing.

The ‘thing’ didn’t disappear. But, I had found its weak spot – to write it out of my system in a poem – please understand I use the term: poem, loosely. These poems aren’t your highly artistic, searching-for-the-meaning-of-life poems. They’re just fun.

After that, every so often I’d see a situation that gave rise to another poem and then another. During my lunch hour, I’d sometimes use the clip art available and mix and match it with word art to create doodles to complement my poems. I had so much fun doing these that I soon began to see more and more situations, office dynamics, gossip, etc. that gave rise to ever more poems.

And that, dear friends is how Corpoetry began. You can find out more on my Facebook Page.

Corpoetry_cover_Page_02 copy

Morning blues

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by Patsy Mills

Every day I wake up at nine
My feet hit the floor
A shower cleans me up
Now, I’m doin’ fine

Standing in my closet
Wondering what to wear
I find something decent
and do something with my hair.

A Timmies and a muffin
is on my mind
I reach for my keys to go
But alas, I cannot find!!

I retrace my steps
what did I wear last night?
After minutes of searching
My relief replaces fright!!

Out the door I go
Climb in my car and drive
I hope I make it,
my gas is very low!!

I detour to the gas station
and pour the gas I need
Tim Hortons is right next door
That’s my next stop, indeed!!

My choice is Medium coffee
and a muffin to go,
I wait and I wait,
Oh, the line up is slow!

Believe it or not
this is my morning brunch.
I know it won’t keep me fueled
I will soon be ready for lunch.