“How old are you?!” asked Diana Birrell incredulously, as we sat together on the upper level of a British double decker, touring the streets of York. I was in a “new” country, feeling bewildered, and worrying that my mom would be worrying about me. “What’s the equivalent of 911 in England?” I wanted to know. “Where do I lock up my passport, what do I do if I get lost, and is there really blood in this pudding?” I felt these were perfectly valid concerns for a timid traveller, but not Diana had no such qualms. A wee trip to England was just a tiny slice of her very adventurous life.
Diana, you see, had moved thirteen times by the time she was nineteen years old. Her British parents had hauled her around the globe as they moved from one engineering project to the next, punctuated by visits to Lebanon, the Mediterranean, England, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. “They took us to see some pretty stupendous places,” she recalls. I suppose that for someone who experienced Mount Everest by horseback at 4:00 a.m. as a child, a little bus ride in a quaint British town is hardly a major life event. . .