'Christ of Himalayan plants' - saintly glow; simplicity; great person'!

I have decided to share a few of the observations of 'glowing' attributes sent by assorted Indians, who were in return expecting me to send them, free-of-charge, expensive books, paying for them to travel to England to meet me, secure funding for Ph.D. study at British institutions, for me to travel to India to deliver lectures (at my own expense) in India on assorted topics etc! They pretended to be interested, like me, in Himalayan flora. They seemed to think that 'flattery' (even when ridiculously over-the top - though compared to those who work for the BBC and journalists in general, I am a Saint!)

It has long been known to me that handicraft salesmen from Srinagar in Kashmir, through Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Kathmandu in Nepal, consider foreigners as rich and stupid - and these salesmen are almost always selling fake goods, whether it be pashminas (which are not real but artificial), carpets supposedly of real silk but artificial silk, saffron, musk and whatever.

More recently, I was informed that wealthy Indians assume someone is paying me highly to explore in the Himalaya, coping with arduous (at times dangerous, conditions), staying in simple accommodation they would not be seen dead in. Since I operate off a shoe-string budget, it never occurred to me that people in far better financial circumstances than me, should think I am wealthy...

Unquestionably, almost all in the Indian sub-continent consider all of us 'Britishers' (as we are still, mostly affectionately known as by the older generations) to be multi-millionaires.  Sorry to disappoint them but this does not apply to me!  I have no accumulated wealth (whether as gold or in banks) like the large number of Indians who live in the village (on the outskirts of Slough) where I do, having much better semi-detached houses than my modest one, let alone those who had the money to purchase detached homes in the nearby village of Richings Park - typically with 3-4 cars, at times 6+ outside their residences - all accumulated in a generation or so, since arriving in the UK.  I have always welcomed people from around the world into the UK (since there have been Chadwells living in the villages and towns in this area since the 17th century, can be considered a local, though was neither born nor brought up locally) and good luck to those who have done well financially. I, instead, took the decision, not to make money, but to devote my adult life to study, cultivate and attempt to conserve the flora of the Indian Himalaya, as well as volunteering in a number of ways.  Yes, I was fortunate to be born in Britain, to have a British passport, to be educated in a British university.  One can "get by" in Britain, being an 'eccentric' and thanks to our National Health Service, be treated for the chronic medical condition I have (my efforts in the Himalaya, no doubt contributing to this) - otherwise, had I been e.g. in the US, unable to afford to be treated!  I have never gone short of food - though have often struggled to pay basic bills.  Last year, my gross earnings were £1500 - that does not go far as the basic council tax for living in our house, is not far short of this figure!

Being British does put me in a highly advantageous position compared with the poor in India (of which there are hundreds of millions).  However, there are increasing numbers of comfortably off Indians plus a number of super-rich.  By British standards, I have always operated off a shoe-string budget, never owning a car (or until now, a mobile phone).  I recollect, when leading a botanical tour in India, coming off a coach, with my tour party stopping off briefly at the nearest hotel to the airport.  I was greeted by, "You are rich man, GIVE ME MONEY".  This came as a surprise, since everybody in the UK realises I am not rich, so never had been asked for money before (which suited me).  I have always wished to earn more, to make things more secure for my family.  I have never bought a lottery ticket and never dreamt of suddenly acquiring millions.  I, honestly, have told people many times that I have no wish to acquire serious money suddenly, as this would cause me more grief than it is worth - not least, 'suddenly' acquiring 'friends' who would expect me to give them money!  It has been in my nature, from childhood, to either wait or go without (which avoids interest payments).  Credit cards as a considerable convenience but other than the odd oversight (due to ill-health) have never failed to settle up within the time-period allowed.

Some years ago, a relative of mine, condemned me, "You have nothing (by which they meant, materially) yet it does not bother you". This person has spent much of their life in debt (despite earning well) and dissatisfied with their material circumstances...  Perhaps I have accumulated something during my life - it certainly not material wealth.


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