Friday, 27 July 2012


For seven years I have dreamed about and visualised walking among the plum trees with Thich Nhat Hanh in his exiled home of France. I cannot believe I am actually about to make this dream come true. In a few hours I hope to board a plane that will take me to Bergerac airport and thence, onwards, to the monastic settlement in Plum Village.
We returned home late tonight from Gloucester where we said our final goodbyes to Aunty Saida. One final flurry of activity awaits before the pace of my life changes beyond all recognition. Everything I do will be in mindfulness harnessed by good, strong, clear energy, and when I eat, I will chew at least thirty times, like my grandfather taught us when we were little (and we never listened! There were games to be played! Comics to be read! Who had time to chew?).
Now I will chew. Think of me, as I will be thinking of you.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


is just a game
of hide and seek
Artwork by Jack Vettriano via magpie tales

Now you see me
Now you don't

Look for me
and you will find
in the galleries of your mind
a memory

Set it free.

Look up and smile -

The face in the window
is me.

© Shaista Tayabali

When I was little, England was many things, but every year it arrived, in a practical fashion, in my aunt's suitcase. Ladies' thingamies for my mother from Marks & Spencer, Hello! magazines, endlessly fabulous sweeties (the swirly lollipops!!) and clean fresh tidiness. Many relatives came to the Big House in Bombay, from various parts of the world including England, but my Aunt Saida, living in Belsize Park, smoking the odd cigarette with the grace of Kelly, was particularly fascinating to me. She was a single mother from the early 60s onwards, and the loss of her husband from a massive heart attack, so early in their marriage, always gave her the air of a Woman Who Could Manage Anything.
Oh The 70s
When I first came to London as an impressionable fifteen-year old, sans parents, I loved watching her park, and just avoid swearing at the difficulty of finding a space. I learnt how to make a ready meal from Waitrose or Sainsbury look appetising - toss a salad! I learnt to keep her bathroom neat to her standards (terrifying!) and watch a woman enjoy a glass of wine/ sherry/ whisky and a deep profound drag of tobacco while dissecting life, other relatives and the intricacies of her relationship with her only sister. Her hazel eyes could go misty with emotion or daggers angry given the right conversation - yet she always maintained that elegance and dignity that defines certain women.   
Aunty passed away today after a sudden heart attack. A full life, of course, packed with Drama. Her death marks the passing of the last of my Father's siblings. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012


The face of desire
is sometimes golden
Not tanned, but glowing
Sun kissed, from the root to the tip
Expensive, knowing.

Sometimes a cheekbone craving
a jawline drawing attention to
Curved smooth carved
marbled perfection.

The flaw line is this
if I could reach
and touch your cheek,
Winter would cease to be.

Cross the border, Beloved -
seek me. 

© Shaista Tayabali, 2012 
drawing: one of Father's pencil studies

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Dearest Readers, for the next three weekends in July, my mother is opening her studio to exhibit her oil and pastel portraits... roll up! roll up! But in case you live in Singapore, Malaysia, Seattle or Hungary, I thought I would share a visual gallery...
Mum at work on the grand-daughter of the Chairman of the Cambridge NADFAS Art Society...
The finished work.
This is Richard Dain, in oils. His sister commissioned the painting. He is the English engineer who invented the bridge agraffe principle for Steingraeber & Söhne piano manufacturers, increasing energy efficiency, allowing the pianist to produce a brighter spectrum of overtones with less effort. I don't play the piano - but the agraffe principle sounds like a good thing! Anyway, Richard (the portrait), has traveled all the way from Kent to attend this exhibition. Nice of him, I think.
Womance. A first year anniversary present from a loving husband.
My beloved acupuncturist and teacher of the mindful ways, Dr Phuong Ly.
And finally, what I like to think of as the pièce de résistance, is this little work of genius, which I have decided to auction off in the hopes of snagging a husband... slim pickings thus far mes amies, who can blame me?? Starting at the fair price of a cool billion, am prepared to hustle down to a few million, but I absolutely stop at a tenner. Ten squid is my FINAL offer. Take it or leave it (with my mother). 
Is she not the most fabulous artist? 
Commission her immediately! (is all I have to say).

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Floods in Cork, Ireland, power cuts in Ohio, USA, and all we long for, here in Blighty, is a little bit of sunshine flung our way. It comes and goes in patches... I watch the shadows play with my good right eye, feeling slightly nauseous when I use the left, and think of the Day of the Blue Bayou...

So named by a very chatty gentleman at the charity open gardens I recently visited with my mother, the Blue Bayou is a rose to spin dreams with. The gentleman in question (who was quite enamoured with my beautiful mother), suddenly whisked himself off, and the next thing we knew, music floated over to the gazebo...
How romantic, to weave into the roof, the name of your beloved... his wife has nothing to fear from my mother... look...
We tore ourselves away from the gazebo long enough to whizz past other magical gardens, strewn with sculptures
and fallen urns
and even a snarky pixie popping his head out to warn us off
but the Blue Bayou by the Blue Gazebo held both our hearts... When the skies darken (or is it my eyes) I bite into the memory of that strawberry scone and smile across at my utterly scrumptious mother..