Two days before I was due to travel back to India in 2020, Covid forced the county to close her borders and I didn’t go. Now thanks to Matthew Smith of Exprimez, I’m able to travel there vicariously by finding out about Susan Bloch’s Travels With My Grief.
Travels With My Grief was published on 6th April and is available for purchase here.
Travels With My Grief
When Susan Bloch lost her partner John far too early, she faced her grief with courage – and what many would term a moment of madness.
Giving up her successful career in the UK, she moved overnight to India, facing not just the uncertainties and worries of a new life in a strange land – and being one of the only white women in a high-powered corporate role – but coping with her own very real grief at the death of her husband.
Susan’s brave – and some might say unconventional – approach to tackling her grief provides a compelling and very human insight into loss of a loved one, and at the same time delivers a beautifully written love letter to India in all its vibrant, chaotic, life-affirming glory.
Refreshingly honest and highly emotive, Travels With My Grief is as engaging as it is inspiring, and is more than a simple self-help manual or travelogue. This book is a genuinely life-changing read, and one that should be read by anyone who wants an insight into the joys, belief, spirituality and hope that living can bring us all.
‘Emotionally raw, endearingly wry, and sweetly seductive.’ – Kim Barnes, Pulitzer finalist and author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
‘A savoury, sensual, sparkling memoir you won’t forget.’ – Dori Jones Yang, author of When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening
‘Heart-wrenching and gorgeous. Travels with my Grief is a marvellous, dazzling memoir.’ – Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Let’s find out more:
A Journey to India
A Guest Post by Matthew Smith
This evening Susan invites us to join her on a roller coaster journey beginning with the trauma of losing her beloved husband, John under heavy, grey, London skies to healing under the thunder and lightning of India’s monsoon rains.
Wallowing in despair and sadness Susan moved house, job, and country, rocketing her stress levels on any stress measurement scale. Some thought she was courageous, others told her she was crazy.
How would she cope in an unknown world as the only senior white woman in a multi-billion Indian company, in a country where, for some traditional managers, widowhood remains a stigma?
Our journey begins as we enter a bustling world of teeming streets, animated chatter and incessant mobile phone ringtones; where markets expel aromas of celery, parsley, mangoes and bananas and where baskets of onions sleep side by side with street dwellers; where designer sunglasses, diamond-studded saris and air-conditioned chauffeur-driven limousines are close neighbours with malnourished families and children defaecating in the gutters; where the ever-present holy cow ambles unperturbed.
This is not an easy journey as we feel Susan’s grief. Even at midnight, like her, we might feel suffocated by the incessant noise of shrieking trains and chugging buses. Soon we will be laughing at the blaring horns, squealing tyres and spirited slaps on the back as we inhale the heady scent of Brylcreem mixed with sandalwood. We won’t even notice the clouds of black exhaust fumes.
We’re invited to a four-day Indian wedding. But before the ceremony we’ll change out of our beige T-shirts and black trousers. We will buy jasmine, jade, magenta and lime green saris. Please bring your best jewellery so we can fit in with the other women guests who will wear emeralds, diamonds, rubies, gold necklaces and bracelets that gleam against flesh and fabric.
We will join a wedding parade as the groom rides his white horse on a red carpet to his bride’s home. After the wedding ceremony we will enjoy a splendid banquet where silver platters adorn crisp white cloths on long trestle tables laden with spicy paneer, made with Indian-style cheese melt in our mouths. I promise you’ll be mopping up up the curried beans with garlic naan bread take a second helpings of potatoes fried with mustard seeds and vegetable biryani.
One evening our personal chef, Radha ,an Omar Sharif look-alike will greet us with the aroma of garlic, coriander, lemon and harissa; banquet fresh chapatti, masala potatoes, bitter gourd with chopped carrots, and curried cauliflower.
On our last evening we will meet on The Queen’s Necklace promenade in South Mumbai twirling gold bangles in circles about our heads. As a parting gift you will receive two silk gift bags. In the one made of gold thread are bottles of fenugreek, cumin, curry leaves, cinnamon and green mango chutney, In the hand embroidered purple bag you will find bottles of orange and lemon perfumes, and sandalwood fragrances. Keep these haunting fragrances in your memory closet and open each at will.
What I love about this book is that Susan immerses her readers in a sensual journey as she vividly describes the sights, the colours, and the smells, of India; blessings of a priest and imam with holy water; her role as counselor to an orthodox Jewish family during the Mumbai massacre; as well as the challenge of walking on shards of glass and hot coals; and the challenges of navigating the traffic of Mumbai. You feel as though you are there with her. I particularly loved the emotional arc of the story as we struggle to move on from loss and pain to recovery and hope.
Sold! You’ve drawn such a vivid picture of Susan’s writing Matthew that I cannot wait to read Travels With My Grief.
About Susan Bloch
Executive coach and author, Susan has lived and worked in five countries; South Africa, North America, Israel, the UK, and India, and worked extensively in Europe. Susan recently spent three and a half years working for two global Indian Conglomerates, is now an independent consultant. Before moving to India she was Partner and Head of Thought Leadership at Whitehead Mann in London, as an executive coach, and conducting board effectiveness reviews. A Chartered Psychologist, Susan has co-authored, The Global You, How to Manage in a Flat World, (published in 8 languages) Employability and Complete Leadership, and has produced a number of research publications. She also blogs for the Huffington Post. Susan currently lives in Seattle.
For further information, follow Susan on Twitter @monsue8, or visit her website.
About Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith is a publishing professional with nearly 30 years experience of discovering, developing, producing and selling books and delivering valuable content.
For further information, follow Matthew on Twitter @urbaneless, visit the Exprimez website or find Matthew on Instagram.