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Sunday 3rd August 2003


I’m back home. I suppose I could invent all these journeys and be in bed the whole time! But I really did go to Brazil. Honestly. To finish off the story about my operation; I went again into the current rooms, dressed in my white C and A pyjamas. Again the rooms were full of meditating people, all sitting closely together in rows, eyes closed. About twenty of us shuffled through. In the last room there was a young woman sitting hissing like a snake. We were told by helpers to stand with eyes closed with our hand on the part of our body that needed healing. All I could hear were mumbles and hisses. A few minutes passed. Then we were ushered out of the building and told to take a taxi back to our pousada, to rest, to take our herbs, and to avoid certain foods and alcohol. I did what I was told. I was feeling very tired, but hungry too. We went back and played rummy in the dark back room. I lost by five points. Can you believe it? I have never won a game of rummy. Then I slept deeply, still in the white pyjamas. The next day I had been told to stay and rest, but I felt really ill. All that day I was sick. I couldn’t move. Eventually that evening we left the pousada and got a taxi back to Brasilia. I was sorry not to say goodbye to the people at the casa. As soon as we got back I started feeling better. I don’t know why I was sick….maybe the altitude, the dry air, the anxiety about seeing the healer. Now I am home I keep thinking about the casa. I think it was a place of miracles. Believing this makes my whole belief system feel shaky. So if this is true, so must so many other things be true too….ghosts, reincarnation, heaven, aliens. It’s making me dizzy. When you see things you don’t understand, like the visible operations, it’s easier to blank them out than to really take them on.

Anyway, it’s nice to back with PG Tips, marmite, custard, and Bad Girls. Life is sweet, that’s for sure.

This week I am going to work on the new novel. After all the travelling I ache to be writing again, or if not writing, just sitting and contemplating the territory of the book. But it’s a busy week. Taxi Driver’s Daughter is published on Thursday. I’m doing an interview with Jenny Colgan on Radio 4 that day.

Oh, books I read while travelling were…Life of Pi…just loved this book. I am glad it won the Man Booker. It’s wierd and thoughtful, and wonderful. Barbara Vine…Dark Adapted Eye, or something like that. Awful I can’t remember the title, as I was utterly gripped. It was about a woman who had been hung for murder, set during the war. I woke up in the middle of the night, feverish to read it. Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell is such a good writer…such good descriptions of life and manners in 40s. Also, Interpreter of Maladies (short stories) brilliant stories by an Indian writer, full of heart, joy and sadness. I don’t Know How She Does It. This bestseller by Alison Pearson was all I could find in a Brazilian bookshop…I enjoyed it, even though I thought I wouldn’t. She writes very intelligently about the guilt of mothering, and I laughed out loud several times, even if the heroine works for the stock market. I’m not surprised working mothers are grabbing it off the shelves.