A Blonde Bengali Wife

A Blonde Bengali Wife
Travels in Bangladesh

We've Nearly Made It

Hello and Welcome!



Where you will learn everything you
need to know about the progress of A Blonde Bengali Wife, the travel
book I've written about my love-affair with the fabulous country of

It's a blog about Bangladesh, about Bhola, and about fiction
and creative writing in general...

A Blonde Bengali Wife:

First published in September 2010 and launched in October 2010.

Reprinted and re-launched in November 2015 as an eBook available from Amazon UK/.com

#1 Amazon Bestseller

Follow it on Twitter @AnneHamilton7 and @Anne_ABBW and Goodreads

Buy it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blonde-Bengali-Wife-Anne-Hamilton-ebook/dp/B016UDI86I

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Where Are They Now?

And so this is Christmas (almost)...

Whether we stick with the traditional writing and posting of cards, or whether our holiday greeting is an all-encompassing Facebook update, this time of year is probably the most common for flicking through those little black (real, electronic, metaphorical) address books and wondering just 'where is s/he now?'

One of the ultimate pleasures (and sometimes pains...) of travelling is the people we meet; one of the ultimate pains (and sometimes pleasures...) is saying goodbye to them when the time comes to move on.  Thrown together in a strange place - perhaps literally strange, perhaps in the sense of being unfamiliar - often breeds an intense bonding between people whose only point of reference is that they happen to be in the same place at the same time.  For a moment, an hour, a month or a year, this can be an intense joy.  It might even spawn a friendship that survives a lifetime.  More often, that person who was once so important to us eventually becomes the person who receives a fleeting, nostalgic and fond thought sometime mid-December.

It's getting easier now to 'find' people.  Social media like Facebook and Twitter ensure that a random name-check may well throw up a dozen or more potential ex-comrades in travel.  We might well narrow it down to the one true person - and then hover, wondering, over the 'message' button: do we really want to know the older/wiser/respectable/changed person s/he is today?  Or are we happy with the rose-coloured memory?

If I look back honestly over the last twenty-odd years (how did I get old enough to say that?) I have probably stayed in touch, however sporadically, with the people I've really wanted to.  But it doesn't mean that on a rainy, dark December night I don't have a moment of curiosity about someone from Israel,  from Zanzibar, from Bradford...

And there's always one or two I dwell on that bit longer, genuinely wondering... So, Kathy, Jenny, Manfred if you're out there, writing your Christmas cards or posting your Facebook message, I'm here.  You might want to drop me a line.  Or not.

Happy Christmas to all of you celebrating it, and happy holidays to everyone else! 'See' you in the New Year


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Write Right

Okay, a good excuse for not writing a 'proper' post this month?

Finally, after nearly two and a half years, I've been working on my website and it - Write Right -  should be ready, courtesy of the lovely Simon at ARCAS web design by the end of the year.

Way back when I started this blog, you might remember it was in the lead-up to publication of A Blonde Bengali Wife.  The plan was to follow it up with a website.  Well, I followed it up with a baby instead, and I'm delighted to say I've been concentrating on him ever since.  However, not even I can use that excuse when the said baby is now an independent little toddler who goes to nursery two days a week, hence the need to crack on with the website.

The aim of Write Right is to publicise my services as an editor/mentor for fiction writers, and as such it will sit in conjunction with this blog.  The design is in hand, the text is all but (carefully and succinctly!) written, the testimonials are proudly displayed, all that remains is the red-nosed, cold-stricken, blotchy author's photograph... Photoshop anyone?

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

News from Dinah

Dinah Wiener, my literary agent and the Chief Trustee of Bhola's Children has just returned from her October visit to Bangladesh - here are a few of her photographs:

Showing off the two newest members of the community: Shahti with her baby daughter Namanita, and Monira with her son, Kawsa.  Two beautiful babies for two beautiful women!

All of the deaf children in the boundary now go daily to the local primary school where they have fitted in very well.  They began with a signing interpreter - but the whole class was soon watching her instead of the teacher!  Now they manage fine without... here are a group of the boys in class.

Sima's first swimming lesson!  She is so proud of her rubber ring - and look at the concentration on her face...!

Last week saw the beginning of Eid, and as many of the children as possible go to stay with family and friends over the holiday; the remainder stay and celebrate with Ali.  Just time for one last picture with Dinah before they go...

Ali sends his ongoing thanks and best wishes to everyone out there who supports us all.
So does Dinah.
So do I.

Anne x

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

ABBW and Cricket?

This has just been sent to me by a Bangladeshi friend whose religion is cricket...

not sure when it was published...

the author hasn't read the book...

so - a perfect example of a tenuous link?


Friday, 28 September 2012

'Excuse me, do you speak motherhood?'

Yesterday, at 10.00am, I started a new job: one day a week for the next few months I will be tutoring two community education classes in creative writing.  At 10.32am, I received a message to phone Simon's nursery ('nothing to worry about, but if you could just call us as soon as you can..' Right.) This had never, ever happened before; it felt like a Candid Camera set up.  At 11.00am I found the staff concerned that a rash on Simon's legs might be chicken pox* so I needed to collect him and see our GP.  Fair enough, even though I was sure that said spots were lingering mosquito bites from last week's dash to sunny, sunny Spain...  Cue hasty termination of writing class session; luckily only one student (fabulous lady called Jean) had turned up.  For the first time, I'd really come across the motherhood/work challenge....

It's the fitting culmination of a month when I've been thinking a lot about motherhood.  Obviously, with a two year old in the house the concept is never far away but it tends to be tied up in the practical - feeding, dressing, changing, stopping him slathering muesli over his feet, the sofa and my Kindle, making sure he doesn't drink too much soapy, possibly-pee'd-in bath water - whereas motherhood in abstract is something few mothers of toddlers will want to peruse as a philosophical PhD. 

What I find particularly fascinating is the language of motherhood.  From the moment a women is confirmed pregnant, there are subtle changes: time is measured in weeks, mum and dad are no longer your mum and dad but you and your baby's father, technical words like trimester and perineum creep in.  Labour and delivery is full of shows and epidurals, vernix and ventouse, Syntocinon and skin-to-skin... It's like learning French or Mandrin; a different language.

And it continues: latching-on, weaning, tummy-time... I could go on.  You just think you're fluent and then that stage passes and another arrives and there's a whole new vocab to learn.  It's O'level German with Fraulein Dieter all over again.  I presume once a mother (father), this will always be the case. 

At two, poo is paramount.  His poo, my poo, Elmo's poo, Wibbley Pig's poo, the vegetarian sausage in Sainsbury's cafe that apparently looks like poo.

But the day I really knew I was on my way to speaking fluent motherhood?  Simon and I were watching TV together (yes, I admit it - I let him watch TV!!) and I turned to him and said something that two years ago, even one year ago, I would never have had cause to utter.  Something that wouldn't have made sense to me in a million years, but now is second nature.  What was this pearl of wisdom that symbolises my mummy-fluency?

'Simon, look,' I said, 'the Tombliboos are in the Ninky-Nonk...'


Here's one new mum already initiated into the deaf-Bangla language of motherhood... Monira and Montu (as mentioned last post) with their lovely baby boy:

(* it wasn't)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Living Vicariously

August has been a month of achievements.  Not mine, I (shamefully) hasten to add, and if I can't stand up and be counted for my contribution to life, love and world peace, I will happily do the counting of those who can...

On the 15th, Simon had his second birthday and fell madly in love with Elmo (the red one from Sesame Street; I had to look it/him up too).  Life now reverberates to the sound of Elmo's World, a catchy little ditty along the lines of 'da da da dah, da da da dah, Elmo's World...' that lingers in the head FOREVER.  In Simon's current favourite book, Elmo has an ice-cream.  This makes him (Simon that is; I can't speak for Elmo) deliriously happy because the only thing that can push Elmo into second place in Simon's World is ice cream.  Sadly, the only thing that makes him deliriously unhappy is me never being able to sculpt a lifelike Elmo from PlayDough... Congratulations, Simon!

Also on the 15th, was my brother's fortieth birthday (cheers, old man, catching me up), and over in Bhola our beautiful carpenter Monira gave birth to a hale and hearty baby boy.  Congratulations Monira and Montu!

Over in the writing world, some of my work involves editing, mentoring, advising and tutoring.  For the last few months I've been working with Ghillian on her wip.  Okay, okay, let's be honest here, it's Ghillian who has done the work, I've just been prompting and encouraging and enjoying the regular instalments.  But earlier this week Ghillian finished the first polished draft of her first novel - now there is an achievement (note to self: follow this excellent example) and definitely one worth shouting about.  Congratulations, Ghillian!

And an equally special mention goes to Katie, another talented writer, who has not only knocked down but absolutely pulverised all obstacles in her way to complete a number of unique short stories - and I don't doubt there are more to come. Congratulations, Katie!

So, here's me, basking (shamelessly) in their glory, saying over and out to August, and making all kinds of resolutions for September...

da da da dah, da da da dah, Elmo's World, da da da dah, da... AARGHHH

Friday, 3 August 2012

Missed the (MADD) boat!

Missed opportunity, anyone...?

I just received a lovely email from a reader who said he had been given a copy of ABBW after seeing it listed in:

THE MADS 2012: 'Celebrating the UK's Best Mum and Dad blogs'.


I have no idea who nominated me in several categories, and shamefully, I had no idea that these awards even existed - or else I would definitely have been shamelessly canvassing votes.  The voting period is well gone and the finalists announced - congratulations to all!  There are some great stories out there,a dn ones that make me wonder whether my blog was really that eligible...

However, thank you to the person(s) who nominated me - feel free to do so again next year and I'll try to have my eye on the ball!!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sense and Sniffability

Sunday morning brunch: paratha, stuffed with a chilli and onion omelette.  Before she even takes a bite (snatching it away from Simon's grubby, wiggling fingers and ignoring his anguished howls of 'more, more'...) Jacqui is sniffing madly and looking glazed...

It's not the eye-watering onion or the all-powerful chilli, not even the dextrous daintiness (poetic licence for those of you viewing the door-step pictured in the link below) of the rolled-up flatbread.  It's the smell; the spicy, warm, bready, just-cooked-eggy scent of a roadside food stall in rural Bangladesh.  It got us talking about the evocative nature of the sense of smell, that fleeting whiff across the nostrils that has us momentarily in a different place or time.  For Jacqui, Bangladesh was locked inside that paratha, but my Bangladesh wafts on a nostalgic air of RID insect repellent... 

Christine had a vat of it with her on that first trip and as it was far superior to mine and she appeared immune to the bugs anyway, I commandeered it.  I noticed the smell at the time, of course, pungent with it's throat-catching chemicals but back in Ireland the empty container was consigned to the bin and that was that until a few years later when I saw Christine at home in Sydney.  It was sunny, spidery and I was sleeping on the floor of her music room; 'Here,' she said, throwing me a spray can, 'douse yourself before the bed bugs bite.'  I took the lid off and my head - metaphorically - spun.  One sniff and I was back in Khalia, in the Peace Library in the midst of an interminable (now rose-coloured) House Meeting... Back in sydney, each time I awoke during the night to check for funnel web spiders, I uncapped the RID, had a quick snort and was transported.  It was like my very own olfactory time machine.

If I could bottle the effect, RID would be one of several:
  • woodsmoke rising from a village in La Creuse
  • Chanel No.5 in the midst of the freezing, snowing backroads of Co. Mayo one February
  • cooking oil frying the chipsi mayai of Songea, Tanzania
  • Elizabeth Arden's Red Door perfume framing the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
Aaahhh.... just like the Bisto adverts say.

And it was just after that paratha-brunch, I realised that time doesn't dull the effect either.  I opened a pink bottle of Johnson's Baby Lotion the other day; it was handed to me to slather on Simon and I'd no recollection of ever using it before.  Then, in a nano-second twenty-five years disappeared and I was on Kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh, near Nazareth, getting ready for the Friday Shabbat dinner...

Anne xx


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The truth, the whole truth and...reviews

I've just read the great reviews of my friend Michael Malone's new crime novel, Blood Tears, (available from Five Leaves now) and he deserves every single one of them - great stuff, Michael!

Needless to say, it made me think of my own  - using the term 'review' very loosely to mean any feedback I've ever had - and I've decided I can certainly outdo him in one clear category...

Consider my top five from the 'damning with faint praise' school of thought:

1      'The main character is just an interesting version of you, isn't she?'

2      'I had an Amazon voucher with £4 left on it.  I had to put 11p to it to buy your book for my Kindle.  It was well worth the 11p.'

3        'I couldn't get to the library that week but (a colleague) had a copy she'd got at your book launch so I read that instead of a proper book.'

4        'I did like your book.  I know an excellent proof-reader you could use for the next one.'

5        'I wish Christine* had written it.  That would have been really good.'

Mr Malone, over to you...

May Contain Nuts http://mickmal1.blogspot.co.uk/

(Christine 'starred' in A Blonde Bengali Wife as one of my travel companions.  To be fair she would, indeed, have written a really good book.)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Whatever Happened to Munnu?

The most frequently asked question I'm asked - from both friends and strangers who have read A Blonde Bengali Wife - is 'whatever happened to Munnu?'  Munnu, the indisputable hero of the story, without whom I would have spent a few interesting weeks in Bangladesh and gone home with some good memories, poor (pre-digital) photos and a diary that would never have made it into a book.  Instead, he was the catalyst for getting to know the country, getting to love it, and staying in touch.  Most importantly though, he'll always be one of the most special friends I will ever have.  We keep in touch sporadically, but somehow the lapses never seem to matter and makes the news all the more exciting when it does come!

So what has happened to Munnu?

When I wrote the epilogue to A Blonde Bengali Wife after my second visit to Bangladesh, Munnu had already left for the USA.  He had won a coveted working visa and was living in New York, staying with friends of his extended family, working in a restaurant - and trying to make sense of the total culture shock.  We have met there twice so far, very briefly, and in the time passed he's managed to get his citizenship, though Bangladesh remains 'home'.

In the meantime, he's made a few extended visits back, one of which coincided with the trip Jacqui and I made in 2008 (as you might remember from a previous post) during which we tried to recreate a mini-version of our original epic journey.  It was very different but just as funny, just as inspiring...

Sadly, at the end of Munnu's 2010 stay, his father died; a very special man who had been respected as prinicpal of the local school but his amazing mother and brothers and sisters are still going strong in Khalia and beyond. 

My big news latter on in the same year was that Simon was born, then jubilantly Munnu got in touch to trump me with the information that -


to the most beautiful bride   and that earlier this year they had their first child, a lovely baby girl... 

More details when I have them, (Munnu, I need proper names and details!!!) but right now  I wish them the very best of luck, health and happiness.  Next time we all meet it will be a very different kind of event!

Anne xx 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Onwards and Upwards

So, here comes April with a spring in her step and a few jokes up her sleeve: 23 degrees in Edinburgh one day and zero the next...

But it's the name 'April' which has got me thinking.  Last month, someone - Bootsie (not sure I know you personally but thanks for the interest) - commented about my novel-in-progress.  I'm going to take up her challenge and write a mini-mini-synopsis here, on the basis that it might shame me into finally finishing it, submitting it, and hopefully, eventually, maybe, gaining a PhD and publication!

Where does April come in?  Well, she's my main character and she's on a quest in Cyprus.  I've carried the travel theme on from Bangladesh, realising how much I enjoy having a real location in a place I love, but that's where the similarity ends: the current work is definitely a novel.  April is ostensibly looking for her childhood friend, Elena, who vanished on the island during the troubles of 1974, but her journey shifts dramatically following the people she meets.  Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, ten year old Elena tells her own story of what actually happened her.  Do the two meet???? Votes please.....!

Incidentally, some time ago I had written about being shortlisted for the EPIC e-publishing awards.  Hmm, given that the awards were in March and I haven't heard anything, shall we assume I vanished without trace? Congratulations to those who did so much better!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Tea Break?

(Yes - really - two posts in one day!  Unheard of.  It will never last...)

Got five minutes to fill on your tea break? 

Over at the LL-Publications blog, you can pass the time reading an interview with me, and lots of other interesting book-related articles fromm my publishers:

Partners in Crime

Those of you who have read earlier posts will remember that the cover photographs for A Blonde Bengali Wife were taken by Jacqui Dunbar, friend and photographer (and fabulous on both counts!)  In 2008, Jacqui and  I laughed (mostly at our own incompetence) our way around Bangladesh, meeting up with my old friends and making so many new ones en route. 

From St Martin's Island, at the very southern tip of the Bay of Bengal - where a tropical storm meant we were hours away from being uplifted by the Bangladeshi Navy - to remote villages in Sylhet unreachable by road, we travelled.  It's a story in itself, full of extraordinary experiences, but suffice it to say that when Jacqui is famous and invited on Celebrities in the Jungle (or similar), she'll have no problem swallowing the weirdest delicacies...

Switch over to Jaqui's blog http://jacquidunbar.wordpress.com/ to get a taste of one of the journeys we made.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

For Shahti

Once upon a time there were three little Hindu girls called Shahti, Khaleda and Aasia.  They all lived and played happily together in Bhola's Garden.  Each of them was deaf but that didn't matter at all because they learned sign language and were bright and clever and they could dance to the rhythm of a drum.  As they grew older, Shahti, Khaleda and Aasia stayed at school for their lessons and they also all learned to cook and to sew.  The time came when Khaleda went away to technical school and Aasia went home to live with her family but Shahti stayed on in the boundary and helped to look after the other children.  She grew into a beautiful and kind young woman.  One day, Deepok, one of the workers there and also a good Hindu, asked Ali if he could marry Shahti.  It was a good match but Shahti wasn't sure, Deepok was so much older than her.  But after many days, she realised that he spoke good sign language, he was a kind man and that she liked to spend time with him, so Shahti said yes to his proposal.  They got married with the blessings of both families, and everyone at Bhola's Children joined the party. Soon their first child, a beautiful baby girl was born and they all lived happily ever after.

Lots of love to my very best 'little sister'
Anne xx

Monday, 13 February 2012

Rozina and Supia

One of the continuing challenges of Bhola's Children is how best to educate the minority of blind children we have, and how they are best encouraged to live independently.  It's a great achievement that through working with Rishilpi, a Bangladeshi charity, two of the older blind girls, Rozina and Supia, who have lived in the boundary since they were small children have a really life-changing opportunity. 

Dinah Wiener, Chief Trustee writes:

Last November we talked with Ali of the possibility of the two blind girls, Rozina and Supia, to go to Rishilpi for a while to learn and train to become physiotherapists. In Rishilpi there is a very good and professional physiotherapist and teacher that is blind. He is extremely good; everyday there are over 40 children that come with mothers to have physiotherapy and learn what to do at home.  It's now happening!  It will be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn something useful, good and practical that will give them a better purpose in life and a better future. It will also give them a proper job in BCPS and if they are good and successful they could also help children outside Bhola's Children in the local community.

Good Luck Rozina & Supia!

Monday, 9 January 2012

January 2012

A very happy new year to everyone - and may it bring you happiness and good health. 

So many of my recent new year 'celebrations' have been spent on a plane somewhere between the UK or Ireland and Bangladesh, that it's quite strange (and very cold) to be in Scotland where the biggest trip out has been to the zoo to see the newly installed - sleeping - giant pandas!

The resolutions flying around my head are all about being organised, writing a lot, finishing that novel and trying, trying, trying to be a good mother!!  In the end I suppose only the latter really matters, but it would be nice to feel in control of life again.

Thanks to all of you who bought, recommended or forced copies of A Blonde Bengali Wife on your loved ones.  To answer the most commonly asked questions I've had about the state of my writing:
1) no, it is very unlikely that there will be A Blonde Bengali Baby sequel and 2) no, the novel isn't forthcoming any time very soon - but don't give up.  I'm sure it will be worth the wait!