In the oppressive heat of a Kolkata monsoon, a chance encounter with a teenage victim of sex trafficking changed the course of my life in the flap of a butterfly’s wings.
In that tiny gust of wind, I was propelled back to the remote village of Nepal where I had lived years before; back to a humble mudbrick home in the Himalayas and a Nepali family who had adopted my husband and I as their own.
Over the following years, we stayed in the village, worked in the local school and started an NGO to prevent human trafficking. Nepal became “home” and the elderly couple we lived with became Ama and Baba: “mum and dad”. David and I worked hard to improve our Nepali and as our language improved, Ama and Baba started asking questions about where we were from and what life was like in our world.
In a moment of inspiration/insanity, we offered them the opportunity to travel with us back to David’s native France so they could see it for themselves.
A few months later, Ama (64 years old) and Baba (78 years old and deaf with no teeth) exchanged their quiet mountain rice fields for the fast cars and bright lights of Paris. It was the first time they’d seen hot water fall from a tap, used a seated toilet, taken an aeroplane, driven on a motorway, showered naked, seen the ocean or eaten with a knife and fork.
What unfolds is a fascinating, hilarious and sometimes disastrous intercultural exchange between four people from three different countries as we explore each other’s worlds.
As our unusual French-Australian-Nepali quartet travels from the Champs-Élysées of Paris to the mountains of Italy, the vineyards of Switzerland and the streets of Amsterdam, we explore every facet of the Global North through the lens of the Global South – exploring not just each other’s cultures, but our own as it’s seen through someone else’s eyes.
From religion – “Why is there a half-naked man hanging on the walls of your holiest temples?” – to marriage – “What do you mean people need to find love before they’re married?” – no conversation is off limits. The economy and employment, holidays and entertainment, the environment, education, medical care, nursing homes, childcare, we dissect it all…
This story is a testimony to how friendships can develop beyond the limitations of culture and language, and how the world can change if only we take the time to seek out those who are different to us and find magic in all the things that makes us unique and, ultimately, the same.
I have completed the first and second drafts of this novel and aim to have a completed manuscript ready for publishing by the end of 2018.
The Unique Firefly is a working title, named after the hotel we stayed in that was destroyed in the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
If you’re interested in representing or publishing this book, please contact me here.
To be one of the first to find out when the book is available, please join my mailing list…