Published in the book '8 Days in Kolkata' by Paul Holmes
The King of the Road

Out of the airport and into the street,
The hustle and bustle of many feet.
A shock to the senses, bursts of colour and sound,
You gather your surroundings to help keep you aground.
Hails of ‘TAXI, TAXI’ float through the fearless ocean,
Offering a service to flee the commotion.
Waves dance back and forth with communication,
Destination and prices lost in translation.
A deal is struck between the two waves,
Agreeing only to keep sanity at bay.
The adventure begins, it’s time to embark,
The excitement peaks and emits a spark.
The mode of transport ­– a Hindustan Ambassador,
The ‘King of the Road’, he was no amateur.
Formerly known as a status symbol,
But time has past, now he’s fragile and feeble.
Repaired and patched up, only two brakes working
Cylinders struggle, misfiring and hunting.
Desperate for air but there’s none in the offering,
He climbs through the streets coughing and grovelling.
Tuk tuks, taxis, trucks and cattle,
Congest the roads and intensify the battle.
But the King ploughs through and conquers his mission,
Journey over, the driver turns off his ignition.
The price magically advances by 200 rupees
But as asked with a smile, you do as he pleases.
Grateful to still be in one piece and at your requested destination,
You say thank you and wave goodbye without hesitation.

Look left, right, forward, back,
Navigating the roads - a hard job to crack.
But not for locals armed with their bats,
All they are lacking are cricket hats.
This kaleidoscope of traffic is their playing field,
These men can dodge the cars with their bravery shields.
All they need is a companion and a bat ‘n’ ball,
And they're set for a game that can last ‘til nightfall.
Countless games are played in the streets,
Watchers gather and take their seats.
But no need for a ticket with this kind of game,
Shared love for the sport replaces the fame.
Long as you can swing it, bowl it or catch it - then your in,
Add passion to the mix, well then you're sure to win.
Practicing for stardom or playing for leisure,
Cricket is the emblem of India, one that brings great pleasure!
The master of ceremonies kicks off the display, 
A concoction of ingredients and cups from clay. 
The shows about to begin for all to see, 
India's culinary art in making Chai Tea... 

Condensed milk is brought to the boil, 
In a pot on the ground amongst the dust and soil. 
Spices are theatrically thrown from one pot to another, 
Sugar, tea and ginger all smouldering together. 

The smell wafts up - bitter and sweet, 
Your taste buds heighten, you're in for a treat. 
A heavily stained muslin strains the muck, 
Releasing fresh Chai tea into a hand-crafted cup.
Today’s the day rain hinders play,
Rinsing all the dirt away.
Does it cleanse the soiled roads,
As daily strife’s and paths erode?

Does it purge and purify the city?
Is it gratefully received by the local dignitaries?
In the streets men wash and scrub,
No bathroom indoors, no bath tub?

Or does it just build up further down the street,
In a pool where muck, filth and grime meet?
Dirt, dust and dry heat accumulates pressure,
But thanks to the rain, the day can now restart ­– that little bit fresher.

To fear the arrival of the electronic kindle
is to fear the loss of a ‘proper’ old fashioned book…

To know that a decade later that classic book still stands strong
is to know time honoured traditions can never be replaced by modern day gadgets…

To feel the hard edge of a nicely bound and well printed volume
is to feel the reliability of a hardback in your hands at a coffee table…

To have a soft, bendy, transportable paperback in your pocket or satchel
is to have the freedom to take fantasy or fiction with you wherever you go…

To smell the years gone by gently being released page by page into the fresh air
is to smell the aroma of excitement, creativeness and story telling being unleashed…

To see the inside pages turn a shade of autumn gold slowly over time
is to see the ink of a thousand words fading away as the narrative begins to erode…

To fall in love with the book jacket - the colours, typography and design
is to fall in love with the one on the shelf, that softy whispers ‘pick me’…

To trust that within the pages you have a reliable companion when things get to tough
is to trust you can exchange daily strife with escapism at a moments notice…

To learn to read, understand and appreciate your native language
is to learn that you have a fountain of knowledge at your fingers tips…

and yet, the best of all is…

To be blessed with your own book stall in the midst of College Street
is to be blessed with the honour of working in the biggest ‘book town’ in India…

To provide these jewels in a book shop, kiosk, tuk tuk, rickshaw or cabin
is to provide great books of medicine, maths, law, literature and romance…

To master the contents of your stall and to know every book you have to offer
is to master the skills of a salesman, to never let a purchase slip away…

For the local men of India books are not just digitally displayed words on a screen…
they are a way to preserving an age-old culture for all to experience,
they are a way to gain knowledge, academic achievement and respect,
they are a way to provide and feed their children and wives back home,

they are the paper-made building blocks of life…
The Hooghly River extends
260 kilometres in all
An arm of the Ganges
From the Bay of Bengal

Its life giving waters
Rich in religious beliefs
Provide industrial gateways
And economic relief

Man powered boats
With rear mounted ores
Saddle up close
To mud heavy shores

Like ants in a colony
People and goods dismount
Flooding the footpaths
Too many to count

The Howrah Bridge
Stands strong and proud
A Meccano-like construction
That can handle the crowds

This bridge serves for all
And transports all kinds
Like push carts powered by strained muscles
But with determined, strong minds…

A step away from the Kolkata chaos
Hidden in a labyrinth of alleyways
Peace and tranquillity descends
As you navigate the artisan's maze

You’ve entered the potter’s quarter
Surrounded by idols and gods
Figurines made of earth and clay
By skilled hands and bamboo rods

The clay is from the river
And back to nature it shall return
Once the craftsmanship is admired
And the rupees have been earned.
Running throughout the ruthless streets
Is a underworld ruled by hounds
At night they come and fight to the death
In a harmony of harrowing sounds
For food is scarce and pitiful
Often scavenged from the bins
Because he who attacks with ownership
Doesn’t loose but wins
Like street gangs that congregate 
In dark corners they gather in packs
Territorial prowlers defending their land
They’ve got each others backs
Garden Birds 
They fight to exist
their daily struggles dismissed
Little wings grow
despite the winter’s snow 
They count on us
we gain their trust
From the robins to the blue tits
the starlings to the sparrows
they dart through our skies
like delicate arrows 
So keep them soaring
keep their wings up high
as they give us joy as each day goes by
Teardrops and puddles
Are teardrops caused by sadness
or do they stem from joy?
It seems our hearts are confused
by the emotions they toy 
Either way they come from deep inside
like part of our souls we try to hide
They can escape in heavy bursts
or sometimes just a trickle
They do have a habit of getting us into pickles

Sometimes it feels like they could fill up huge puddles 
but they can be stopped just like that
with plenty of cuddles

Morning Song
I woke today
with an alarm like no other
It was not my phone
that pulled me from the covers 
The noise was sharp
Yet gentle and sweet
It was our neighbour the blackbird 
with his tuneful tweet!

Gently, softly
we grow like petals 
blooming into our own 
unique beautiful flower

London streets
London streets one path, a thousand feet crossing over, yet they never meet 
future friendships overlooked in these busy, crowded London streets

Shadows appear not only at night 
Slowly they creep as they swallow the light 
Sometimes they’re quick and give us a fright 
So be cautious, my friend, 
As catch you they might… 

We lie like roots tangled in the darkness 
Yet just beyond the trees our hearts seek brightness 
All that is needed is courage and love
Let the lights guide you to the skies above

A Mighty Force of Nature
The wind it blows, the wind it hails
It causes destruction with its gusts and gales 
The wind it blows, the wind it hails
The strength within its force
brings down trees across the moors 
The wind it blows, the wind it hails
Its squawking character chills without fail 
The wind it blows, the wind it hails
It’s Mother Nature’s way of showing her power
as she can kick up a storm in a matter of hours

Mother's Day
With this poem I wish you 
a happy Mother’s day
although it can be hard to find 
the words I’d like to say

Mother and daughter we shall always be
even during the times we seem to disagree
but putting those days behind us
I do love you very much
although I may not show it 
through hugs, kisses and such

Your independence has inspired me
to stand on my own two feet
to show the world you can do anything
and never meet defeat

You’ve always given me everything
I may ever want and need
So I hope its all been worth it
and that you’re proud of me
So really I just want to say thank you
For being the best mum you can be
I am eternally grateful 
for all your love for me

When you feel that passion ignite
Then follow that path into the night
Trust in yourself and follow your dreams
Even when daylight tugs at the seams
Don’t let others stop you on your path 
This is your life, your chance
So go create your own sparkling stars...

Love is... 
Love is easy when you know it’s right
You don’t need to make it work or fuss or fight
Love is equal when you give and take 
because together a solid unity is what you create
Love is not ‘complicated’, unknown or unsure 
As you can’t miss true love when it’s at to your door
Love is a magical fairy dust that connects our souls
A fire that burns on trust, honesty and united goals

Hold onto my feet 
Hold onto my feet so that I don’t drift away
Head in the clouds, reality kept at bay
That’s where I thrive, that’s where I play
Hold onto my feet, I’ll come down one day...

Why can’t I love you?
Why can’t you get close?
Is it because you left me
When I needed you most?
Did I not matter?
Did you just not care?
Was there nothing to stay for
but sadness and despair?
Why can’t I forgive you?
The anger flares up
You snap for no reason
Hope of forgiveness suddenly cut
I hope one day we’ll talk and confront the issue
Hand in hand we walk and I’ll no longer miss you..

Look Up
When things are getting dreary
and life is getting you down
Take a minute to look upwards
towards the sky and not the ground
Doesn’t it look prettier with clouds in the sky 
Now everything seems better
There’s no need to question why
Take a lesson from nature and always look up 
Your glass is not half empty
Your life is the cup
So you can fill it wisely
You can fill it as you choose
As whatever you decide in life
your gonna win and loose

Life Journey
Begin a journey with love
and your always travel light Follow your direction with honesty
and your always be on the right path Act with integrity 
and you will always arrive at your destination 

Pockets of Inspiration

Inspiration comes in fits and starts
it could be a song, a poem or a piece of art.
Embrace it, pocket it and remember the spark
that enlightened in you and touched your heart.
For if you treasure it and let it grow
the magic starts and creation flows...
Magical Worlds 
Snowflakes fall in drifts and swirls
awakening childhood memories of magical worlds...

A Poem from me to you
Since the day that I met you
you brought joy to my life
Which is why from this day forward
I’ll be proud to be your wife 
It’s a pleasure to say 
you fill me with lust
But more importantly it was you 
who rebuilt my trust 
You taught me to love
you taught me to care
You encouraged me to follow my dreams
to places I don’t even know where 
There are no words enough
to reflect the love in my heart
To know not a day will go by
When we shall part 
So for this I wish to thank you
the only way I know how
through the ever binding words of ‘I do’
I give you my vow
Save the Date

It has now been five years that’s past
since two souls collided
on their new found paths. 
Two hearts broken now joined as one,
how little we knew of the joys to come.
A friendly coffee was meant for our first date,
however it was a bottle of wine (or two)
that sealed our fate.
To watch a film we intended to do
but instead we chatted for an hour or two.
We decided that night 
that together we’d be, unknown to us both
what the future should see.

Just 3 months later
we did something mad!
I moved into your bachelor pad.
2 years we lived in that one bed flat,
but the size didn’t matter compared to the fun we had.
One day we decided to spread our wings,
a 2 bed house, hopes for a family to begin. 
The hunt was easy,
like it was meant to be
Another step towards our eternity.

We’ve been on many adventures, both near and far.
We’ve flown to New York and Barcelona.
So when we booked Paris 
I was full of hope and glee,
had he planned 
to get down on one knee?
Probably not I thought
as twice before he had pulled this stunt, 
so when it actually happened
in a moment of panic 
I called him a ….
Of course I said yes!
(once over the shock) 
the motions in progress for our wedlock.
So now we have come to that stage in our lives, 
where we wish you to be present 
as we become husband and wife.

Will you be my Maid of Honour?
Thank you for thinking of me while in that charity shop 
you found just what I wanted in both style and crop 
So lucky to find ‘the dress’ through an eye of a friend
just what I desired - no need to overspend!
But it’s not just the dress where you’ve extended your hand you’ve helped me with all sorts 
- great ideas and master plans!

So to say thank you for your kindness
there is only one way... 
Will you be my Maid of Honour
on our special day?

Will you be my Bridesmaid and flower girl?

Rachael you have always been there 
through the thick and the thin
if asked how much you’ve helped me 
I wouldn’t know where to begin!
You’ve seen all the past frogs 
that I’ve dated and kissed
so marrying my prince
is something not to be missed!
But not just as a guest 
I would like you to come
but as my Bridesmaid and Flower girl
it has to be done!
We may now live miles apart 
but our friendship I hold still close to my heart!
You daughter, so gorgeous, a beautiful baby 
and now I watch as she becomes your little lady 
So to say thank you for your friendship there is only one way...
Will you be my Bridesmaid and Flower girl on our special day?

Will you be my Bridesmaids?
Dear Rachel my eldest cousin, 
it is you I have always looked up to 
from dressing in the latest fashions 
to driving cars all sparkly and new

Your humour always gets me, never shy to be yourself
your ‘go get it’ attitude in life never leaves you sitting on the shelf

16 years ago now you brought Mia round your mum’s
a new born baby to show us all, a new chapter had begun! 
I remember the moment you walked in through the door
showing us your bundle of joy, one even Grandma could adore!

Then later on came Scarlett, a character of her own
A child of such determination, courage and empathy,
into a beautiful young lady she has grown!

So as part of my family that I hold so very dear
will all three of you do me the honour
of being my Bridesmaids next year?

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