That was her father’s favourite phrase - options and avenues - as if life was a jolly human stock exchange with a variety of choices; that was the Jones’ naiveté: the dramas of destiny and fate played no role in their imagination, the wheel of fortune had no part.

They were trusting people and had never had any reason to fear other people or networks, family, friends.

Aside from disease and tummy bugs, they didn’t stop to think that India might be a dangerous place in terms of human nature. They were not Raj types but the Raj held a certain glamour still. Tucked away in apple-bough Herts they were not to know these were the dog days of the Raj and the Imperial muscle was nearly slack.

Her first stop would be upper Assam.

‘That’s terribly poetic,’ her mother had joked, ‘Like upper Egypt... very upper-class...’

Susan’s father’s old school friend had gone out there and become a tea planter, with a garden on the boarders of wild Kaziranga. After that, her mother’s second cousin in cosmopolitan Calcutta, then a great Aunt in



Kurseong (near Darjeeling), then another second cousin who had a jute plantation in somewhere-somewhere India-land, her Father had joked. Yet another contact - through the vicar of their local church, St Michael’s - held a diplomatic position at Bombay.
The list went on.

Summer dresses had been bought from London and packed in tissue paper, along with an array of medicines from their private doctor and the latest vaccinations. Letters had been written, telegrams sent. The local newspaper said it would love to publish her experiences. She had bought the perfect diary in vellum. India was part of England and England part of India, no one regarded it as a catastrophic decision. It was, in actual fact, all very exciting.

On a warm autumn day in September, her mother threw a going-away tea.

‘So, you’re really off? Aren’t you scared?’ A young man called Thomas, a post-graduate student of Tibetology she had met in a cafe at Cambridge, came to the tea. ‘I’ve brought you a present.’