Saturday, April 09, 2005

Wild About India - Aline Dobbie

“Just compare 9/11 and the Tsunami. One was a man-made disaster and the loss of life was around 3000. The other was a natural disaster and the loss of life was more like 300,000. Just goes to prove how much more powerful nature can be !” says writer, Aline Dobbie.

Or should we say Aline Dobbie, lover of nature, history, culture and all things Indian, who also writes?

Last week, on invitation from the Government of India, and Tamil Nadu State Tourism Development Corporation, Aline was in Chennai to research her latest book on travelling in India. Her books are aimed at the world traveller, who can get an understanding of soul of the country, including the various issues that plague it. These issues, are presented in her books, in the perspective it deserves – with understanding and insight. However, she does make her point, wherever appropriate. As she says about pollution and tourism, “Imagine landing in India and the first thing you see outside the airport, is litter!”

So, what makes this grandmother with the sparkling eyes, set out of her home in Scotland, to travel through the length and breadth of India? And not just once!

Many will be surprised to note that Aline’s father, Lt.Col.Frank Rose was in the IX Jat Regiment of the Indian Army and considered a hero for his courage in rescuing his men from Singapore, when it fell to the Japanese. India is Aline’s place of birth, and she grew up in a household where Hindi and Urdu were freely spoken. At the age of 16, she left India to return to Edinburgh. After 35 years of varied experiences, including facing hostilities as part of the Opposition in South Africa in the late seventies, Aline came back to visit India.

“My three books have titles based on the three animal emblems of India, the peacock, the tiger and the elephant. My first book was called India: The Peacock's Call, and took a long time to get published, finally coming out in 2002.”

Her second book was dedicated to the tiger and titled India: The Tiger’s Roar. She says, “My latest book, the third in the trilogy, will be dedicated to children who lost their lives in and those who were left orphans by the Tsunami. It’s almost as though a whole generation was wiped out in the areas affected.”

Aline recounts one incident during this trip that was almost spiritual in nature. “I wanted to photograph elephants for the book, in their complete festive finery. But no matter where I went, it just didn’t happen. In a little village en route to Trivandrum, we passed about 8-10 elephants completely adorned in temple festival finery. Needless to say, I have a possible cover picture for my book!”

Aline Dobbie hopes to complete her latest book, by the time she’s back in India in November this year.

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