Blog by: Jini Reddy
I am a writer, and I am most at home in wild, natural landscapes, but really any patch of green will do. I like to roam – it’s in my blood, something I’ve inherited from my father. My parents are of Indian descent and they left their homeland, South Africa, as they didn’t want to bring their children up under the racist apartheid regime. This is sobering stuff, but as a kid, in contrast, growing up in Canada – though I was born in the UK – I was secretly fascinated by magic and mysticism. I was the one who wished for a magic carpet, who read stories about witches, who longed for Narnia through the back of my wardrobe. Our first home when we left London, was in the Laurentian mountains. We arrived in winter and the landscape was beautiful – nothing but snow and mountains. A different kind of magical.
You can love nature and still express other parts of yourself, within that. There came a point when my desire to bring a more spiritual dimension to my life collided with my love of wandering. One night alone up a mountain in the Pyrenees, I heard a mysterious voice. I’d yearned to hear ‘nature’s voice’ before I went up there but you really have to be careful what you wish for! Anyway, the experience propelled me on and, in part, sowed the seeds for the book. I was also inspired by those people from indigenous cultures who I’d had the chance to meet on my earlier travels, and who spoke of a profound relationship with the sentient forces of nature, the animating intelligence behind the physical, tangible nature around us. I found this compelling, and wondered if it might be possible for a regular person like myself to experience this type of connection, or even get a glimpse.
The desire to find out, to seek the magical in the landscape, sent me off on an unorthodox journey. I travelled from Cornwall to Scotland, from Northumberland to Wales, and many places in-between. I followed my curiosity, I followed signs, I sought guidance from other humans, and from the spirit of the land – even if I wasn’t entirely sure who or what that might be! I enjoyed the unfolding of synchronicities and had many unusual experiences and encounters.
Whilst I had this desire to connect with the magical ‘Other’ in the landscape, in the book, I’ve also explored my own feelings of ‘otherness’, of at times feeling like an outsider, especially in the countryside. But although there are tensions on our island, there are equally many open-hearted people who dwell in it, and the journey I went on has deepened my love for my birth country.
Wanderland is published by Bloomsbury on the 30thApril https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/wanderland-9781472951939/