My conscious life sprang into being amid belching smoke, sticky bodies and ethnic diversity. Considering where my future was to take me, it seems quite a coincidence that my earliest memories involve travel - and an Englishman. This is a story about one girl's dream to escape poverty and fulfil her ambitions. Set against the rich social and political backdrop of war-torn Malaya's independence, the child's viewpoint tells a personal story of family life and individual survival in the multi-cultural, multi-religious melting pot of Malaya, as it was then known. The trials of smallpox and poverty are contrasted with key moments such as meeting Mr Nehru and shaking hands with Mrs Indira Ghandi. Lily Forbes served as a cadet in the Indian National Army, following in her father's footsteps (he had fought in Burma during World War Two). An unwanted love interest was followed by a traumatic incident. In an ironic twist of fate, failure in her exams turned Lily's destiny around. She returned from India to Malaysia. At the heart of this tale lies forbidden love, a passion for food, and the tenacity to pursue dreams despite surroundings.