Stories by Judith Shaw

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Judith-wedding-framedThe stories on this website reflect my passion for animals, especially horses and dogs, and my love of the traveling life.

I’ve been an editor, journalist, obsessive horsewoman and addicted traveler. I collect languages and met my husband while studying classical Chinese.

After twenty years in Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, I’m home, happy to be living in Great Barrington, Massachusetts with a Jack Russell terrier and her love slave, my Aussie husband Ron.

I have a sheaf of short stories that I’ve really enjoyed writing. I hope you will enjoy them too. Let’s start with a story from my travels to India. . . .

Kidnapped in Rajasthan

Copyright © Judith Shaw

In 2009 I went to India with an outfit called Relief Riders International. The idea was to hold medical clinics in remote villages in Rajasthan, bringing doctors and supplies into the heart of the Thar Desert. To pay the bills, Western tourists were invited to accompany the caravan on horseback.

In the middle of the trip, we enjoyed a much-needed day off in a medium-sized desert town. It was in the mountains, with cliffs and drop-offs and lots of thorny bushes. The shops were down below, and the houses meandered up the tracks to the top of the cliffs.

I was wandering around on my own when two boys, maybe 10 and 12 years old, accosted me. They were interested in the foreigners and wanted to communicate, but we had no common language. I didn’t know what they were after and was worried.

The younger boy took my hand and led me to a path winding up the side of the cliff. It was steep and stony, with thorny bushes the only handholds. It seemed to go on forever. I tried a few times to turn around and go back, but they got so upset that I kept on climbing.
boy-kidnappers-550
The closer we got to the top of the cliff, the more houses we passed. Small cement buildings, piled on top of one another like apartment buildings, but more discrete. There were metal railings and lots of flowers. The path ended, but we continued to climb, up shallow concrete stairs with small structures built into the curves.

All this happened a long time ago, and the details are not clear in my mind. What I remember most is an ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ feeling, as if I couldn’t do anything but go along with whatever was unfolding.

The children chattered to each other and probably to me, too, but since I didn’t understand a word they said, it might as well have been Swahili. Every now and then someone would come out of a house, talk to the kids, and go back inside. They all seemed very pleased with the situation—whatever the situation actually was.

architecture-Rajasthan-medWe finally reached the top, a wide paved area with a large house and garden on one side. The children went to the front door and called inside. The door opened, and a woman came outside to greet us. She was an older woman, probably in her 50’s, wearing a formal sari, not shalwar kameez.

The boys explained the situation and introduced me in words I couldn’t understand. She dismissed them and invited me to come inside.

I didn’t know whether to be terrified or delighted.

The house was cool and dark, much larger than it looked from outside. The woman showed me around, using body language and pantomime to get her message across.

She took me to a darkened room and opened the shutters. It was lined with shelves overflowing with books, all in English. The furniture was English, too, with crocheted antimacassars on the backs of the upholstered chairs.

The woman had a little English and told me that the books belonged to her husband, the district chief of police. He had been to school and knew much more English than she did.

Her house was, in fact, a palace. She was the adopted daughter of the last prince in the area, and as such was responsible for what went on in her domain. The children were her eyes and ears in the town below the cliffs, and they brought me to her as part of their intelligence-gathering responsibilities. They were extremely pleased with themselves.

Image copyright Judith Shaw

Judith in Rajasthan

The next hour was dreamlike. She offered tea and sweet cakes, and with warnings about the dangers of unknown food ringing in my ears, I ate and drank what she prepared. Then she gave me a piece of glittery orange and yellow fabric, to use, I suppose as a dupatta, or shawl, and shiny glass bangles for my wrists.

What could I possibly give her in return? All I had was my crummy Timex, which she graciously accepted.

Her husband arrived, probably dragged up the hill by the children. His English was really very good, and he filled in the blanks in my conversation with his wife.

There was something magical about the whole experience. She was such a generous soul and had immense dignity. In entertaining me she only did what she saw as her duty to a stranger, but she did it with grace and generosity. Adopted or not, she clearly was a princess.

When my internal clock said it was time to leave, the children reappeared to escort me down the cliff. It had been a privileged visit to a really foreign land.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to leave a comment for Judith.

GlobetrottingJudith-and-Tom-icon-2dog thinking and watching about the future

24 thoughts on “Stories by Judith Shaw

    1. Judith Shaw

      Lucin,

      How great to hear from you! I’m glad you liked the story. More good ones are in the way!

      Love,
      Judith

      Reply
  1. Jane

    You are an inspiration. I am looking forward to many more. Hoping that I can one day put things down on paper (computer), I’ll not forget your efforts and how splendidly they have entertained.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Stephens

    Hi Judith,
    Milli told me about your whale story, but I got stuck reading the story about the two boys in Rajasthan. I love your true adventurous spirit, and ability to follow your heart rather than the cautions others tell you. I will find your whale story now, and look forward to reading it, however, I’m also very much looking forward to meeting you.
    ~Deborah

    Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      Deborah,

      You kind words help keep me going. Thank you.

      I’m looking forward to meeting you, too. I hope it happens soon.

      All the best,
      Judith

      Reply
  3. Beth

    Hi Judith,

    I love the tension in this story between the title (“Kidnapped…”) and the feeling of not knowing what was happening, which you set up so well, with such a lovely encounter. As I began to read I was waiting for some terrible catastrophe, but loved the very human experience that you portrayed. I particularly loved the image of the inconsolable boys when you tried to turn around, and then this contrasted with their glee at themselves doing their intelligence job well. A lovely story! Thank you.

    Cheers,
    Beth

    Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      Beth,

      Thank you for your extremely kind comment. I, too, was waiting for a catastrophe, and it trend out to be one of the best encounters I’ve ever had. This is really why we travel, isn’t it.

      Sorry to take so long to reply. I’ve been off line and away from home.

      Judith

      Reply
  4. Stella Elliston

    Your website is FANTASTIC!!

    These stories are so entirely transporting and refreshing!!! Just like eating the best Belgian chocolates-each with its own unique flavor… but all so rich and delightful. Each story has just the right amount of detail -JUDITH TAKES US ALONG WITH HER AS ONE WOULD A GOOD FRIEND…caring full of good humor and keen perceptions…

    What a treasure-thank you!!

    Reply
  5. Greg

    Some wonderful stories Judith – very engaging reading. Well done. Just makes one feel like writing.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      Greg, glad to hear from you. I’d be even happier at the thought you might write again. That would be a real treat!

      Reply
      1. frederic gordon

        Judith,
        thanks so much for sharing your experience. i agree with other respondents that you transported us to a magic palace. Once there, however, as a reader i wanted more description of your surrounding: what did the palace rooms look like? titles of the english books? the police chief’s attitude and history? more on the climb uphill with your boy guides? how you dealt with your initial apprehensions? etc….
        cheers,
        fg

        Reply
        1. Judith Shaw

          Frederic,
          Thanks very much for commenting on this story. The Rajasthan adventure was life changing for me., and the visit to the princess was the best hour of the whole trip.

          There are plenty of stories where that came from. If you would like to know when new material is added to the website, please subscribe in the box on the right of your screen.

          All the best,
          Judith

          Reply
  6. roberta trzcinka

    I thought the story was great. I love the replies you got and will need some coaching on how to sign on to those websites. That will be a good job for Cathy – teaching the unteachable. GOOD FOR YOU
    Hope you get this.

    Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      Well done, Roberta! You’ve left your first comment on a website. It makes me very happy that you liked the story. It was a magical experience for me that really opened my eyes to another world. Thank you for reading it.

      xxx

      Reply
  7. bloggoneit

    I’m so happy to see that you have taken the plunge. I love this story! Honestly, I would have thought the boys were taking me up the hill for slaughter, but then again, I’m a worrier. But look at you, what a story to tell and pictures to go along with it. What makes it even better is the fact that the husband spoke English so that you could get an understanding of the day.

    I look forward to reading more of your stories. Again, congratulations!

    Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      I was terrified, if the truth be known, but turned out to be a magical encounter. It’s made me much more willing to put myself out there and see what happens.

      Thanks for your very kind words. I have several more stories about that trip to post on the site. I hope you’ll enjoy them too.

      Judith

      Reply
    1. Judith Shaw

      Thank You, thank you, thank you! This is shaping up to be the most exciting day of my life so far. I’m so glad you like them. You inspire me to write more stories.

      Reply

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