This is a time of turmoil. For the entire world, no doubt about that...But it has been especially traumatic for 10th and 12th grade students in India. These are board exam years, the equivalent of the very British O and A levels respectively and the first lock down of 2020 occurred just when the students had started these all important grades, last March. A year down the virus filled road and there is no immediate end in sight. The exams, which should have been nearly over at this time in a normal year, are now scheduled for April and May 2021 and students are plodding on, on line, as schools have shut again after they had barely begun. Imagine the angst, the fury, the helplessness, the sheer fatigue of regurgitating the same material for more than a year, with schools now holding a third prelim (pre boards) as against one or two, which is the norm.
I am away, across the Indian ocean, but the anguish coming through in waves is palpable every time I teach these fifteen and sixteen year olds. And so I have been advising their parents about the Bach Flower Remedies, in case these weary beings would like to try them out. But WHO is Dr. Edward Bach?
To answer this question, I need to go back exactly thirty years into the past. I was a tenth grader myself and my mother was teaching in a school in Pune. My Dad was on a field posting in far away Jammu and Kashmir, based near India's border, so stress levels were naturally high in our house. One day she came home and told me about these wonderful remedies made from thirty eight flowers, based on the states of the mind, that a colleague of hers had studied about and was successfully using for students who needed them. I am skeptical at the best of times and this seemed rather over the top to me. I did not even take this information with a customary pinch of salt...I point blank refused to believe her.
The very next day, my mother came back from school, armed with proof! She had got home the notebooks of a few of her elementary school students for corrections and she showed me before flower remedies and after flower remedies pages from the notebooks . There was a remarkable difference in the quality of work and in the handwriting too, not just for one student but for each one whose parents had agreed to using the remedies, if the child had academic or emotional issues. I could not deny what was in black and white and thus began my life long relationship with and usage of the Bach Flower Remedies, which had been discovered in the United Kingdom by Dr. Bach in the 1930s. He was an allopathic doctor himself , a physician, pathologist and bacteriologist to be precise, but realized that emotions need help too! Besides our family members, thousands of people and hundreds of students have benefitted from these remedies which are available in all homeopathic shops in India and indeed the world over, and my mother is often invited to give lectures on this topic and conducts workshops too. Her write up about these remedies and their zero side effects and addiction free usage is played on the local radio channel in our home town multiple times a year. My Dad too extensively used these for people in companies and banks where he conducted Human Resource workshops, post retirement.
August 2019: My husband, my daughter and I were about to leave for a big fat wedding in the United Kingdom. At the last minute, my mother said to me , " If possible, do visit the Bach Flower Centre in the UK." Now this idea took firm hold in my mind, percolated through it all through our long journey from Nairobi to London and helped by Google Maps, I made the decision to visit the Centre. We had a whole day free before the wedding festivities started and my daughter wanted to visit London and take in some tourist attractions. I had seen all I had wanted to see during our holiday in the UK in 1997 and had no desire to see again how money acquired from the colonies had been splurged here nor view once more artefacts and jewels looted from India, displayed in their full glory in the many museums. And pay in pounds to see the loot? Thanks but no thanks. ( The issue of Britain paying India reparation has been officially taken up, so I'm not just shooting my mouth off here). My husband was torn between accompanying the daughter or the wife...I convinced him no harm would come to me and I had my phone which worked for WhatsApp calls and messages, when there was WiFi. I had downloaded the details of the entire journey and so I was set to go.
We had been put up at a hotel in Kingston Upon Thames, South West London, for the wedding. We took a bus from right outside the hotel to Kingston Upon Thames railway station and here we parted ways. I took a train to London, Waterloo while the other two took one to London, Charing Cross station. I was on my own now, setting off on an exciting adventure in the land of the Famous Five. Since my journey had been mapped out by me on my phone, I had all my tickets ready and just needed to change trains. I disembarked at Waterloo half an hour later and then hopped on to a train to Reading, a journey which would take an hour and a half. Memories of very dear friends of my parents came to mind as this is where Uncle had come in the early 90s, in pursuit of a Ph.D. all the way from Gauhati, Assam. At Reading, I trotted off rapidly to the other platform to catch the train for Didicot Parkway, which is the closest main line station to the Bach Centre . Time was of essence, trains are not too frequent and so I could not afford to miss my connections. I made it and half an hour later, I found myself at the bus stop outside Didicot station. The bus service to Brightwell -cum -Sotwell, the village where the Bach flower Centre is located, runs only once every hour, so I was paranoid about missing the bus, as taxis are very expensive and buses are safer too. I kept asking if the bus was ready to go yet and finally the gentleman at the depot, whom I had been plaguing, told me he was the driver of the bus and there was no way he would leave without me! I heaved a sigh of relief and settled down to wait. Dr. Bach, of course, would have given me a dose of Impatiens!
I finally hopped into the bus but alas, the London Oyster transport card did not work in this region and the driver did not have change for five pounds. He waved away my money ( which I offered again before getting off, which he refused to take again) and thus I hitched a free ride to the Bach Centre. The grace of Dr. Bach....
Fifteen minutes later the driver signalled to me that my stop had arrived and so I got off, right in the middle of a lonely country road. I looked around but did not see any signs for the Bach Flower Centre. I could see some houses across the road, so I crossed over to the other side and began wandering around, in vain. Not a soul was to be seen. I had no WiFi. I began to despair that I would probably have to turn back without visiting the Centre, after having come so far. Finally a car turned into the lane where I was wandering and I did something one must NEVER do. I flagged down a strange car. The driver was a young boy and he stopped when he saw me waving desperately. I explained that I was looking for the Bach Centre, he promptly pulled out his phone and searched and then told me to head down the road where I had got off from the bus. I thanked him and he zoomed off, while I scuttled rapidly away to the main road. Ten minutes of walking and nothing in sight... I was nearly in tears by now. With the hot August sun beating down on me, I was berating myself for having ventured all the way here alone. I truly needed Bach's Rescue Remedy at that precise moment. Finally I saw some signs of life , a Dad wheeling a kid in a pram. Somehow men with a kid around seem safer to approach but of course that's never a guarantee. I asked him if he knew about the Centre and he told me to go further up the road and then take a right turn. I marched off again and a couple of wrong turns led me down a narrow path, deep into a wooded area.
I was not far from Wallingford, where my beloved author and the Queen Of Murder, Agatha Christie had lived for a while and all those murders that happened in the woods in her books came to mind. Remember, I was also in the land of Jack The Ripper. The Bach remedy Mimulus was definitely the need of the hour.... I got a grip on myself, turned around again and reached the main road, almost expecting Christie's famous detective Miss. Marple to pop her head up across a garden wall, and finally stumbled upon the right path. There it was in all its glory, Mount Vernon, the well preserved 19th century cottage and the home of Dr. Edward Bach, surrounded by a rambling yet lush garden, with flowers peeking out from all corners, in myriad hues.
Twenty eight years after we had begun using the Bach Flower remedies, I was at THE place where a lot of the research had been done by Dr.Bach himself and where the remedies used to be manufactured until the demand increased so much that they had to move out commercial production to a bigger place in the 1990s. But classes are conducted here for those who want to learn more about the remedies and visitors like me continue to be enthralled by glimpses of the things that Dr,Bach used, his books, his research papers, his typewriter, even a beautiful blue pottery plate. A gleaming copper cauldron caught my eye and I wondered which remedies had been frequently brewed in it by him. The whole atmosphere is imbued with calm and there is a sense of trust, as the two people on the premises simply went back to their work, leaving me alone to wander through the rooms. This, I felt, was the very essence of the work Dr.Bach had done and what he had wanted to convey to human kind as a whole...
"Healing with the clean, pure, beautiful agents of nature is surely the one method of all which appeals to most of us”
- Dr,Edward Bach, 1936
If anyone would like to know more about the remedies, please click on these links. If you know me personally, get in touch, Mom and I are always happy to help, for free!