Between Two Worlds by Gwen Bitti published by Ginninderra Press

The launch of Gwen Bitti ‘s first book  Between Two Worlds  at Hornby Shire Library  was a very happy and affirming evening  amidst  family and friends,.  For Gwen it was a very proud moment.

It was  an honour to be Gwen’s  MC and  to introduce her launcher, the well known playwright  Nick Bleszynski.

Gwen Bitti born with a facial caul, in Calcutta, India, migrates to Australia with her family when she is sixteen. She returns to her birth land for a visit some years later. On her arrival she is jolted into a new perspective and with fresh insight, sets off on a quest. The motif of her enigmatic caul is woven throughout her memoir as she draws together the threads of stories of her family and childhood to discover the truth.

‘In the author’s sharp observations and evocative authentic recreation of people and places immerses the reader in the story and gives an added dimension to this page-turner. Moments of violence, insurgency, fear, lies, secrecy and escape are palpable alongside the comfortable lifestyle, and the privilege and status of this Anglo-Indian family.’ – Dr Sharon Rundle, writer and editor
‘From the opening paragraph of this memoir, I was hooked.’ – Emerita Professor Di Yerbury, AO. Chair, International Judging Panel, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 1989 and 1990
‘Poignant and beautifully articulated – the struggle within the human soul as it searches for that most important of things – identity.’ – Nick Bleszynski, author/screenwriter, and director
‘Gwen…bringing India vividly alive for the reader.’ – Emerita Professor Elizabeth Webby
978 1 76109 537 5, 222p




MC – Colleen Keating

Thank you, Rhonda for your warm introduction to this comfortable and now very modern Hornsby Library, and for hosting this wonderful Meet the Author and Book Launch event. 

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet this evening, the Dharug and Ku-Ring-Gai peoples who first settled along this northern escarpment, south of the Hawkesbury River many thousands of years ago. I pay respects to elders and story tellers past, present and emerging. 

Warami the Dharug words for good to see you!  Welcome.

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to a very special night for Gwen Bitti and her evocative and intensely engaging Memoir, Between Two Worlds.

My name is Colleen Keating, author, poet and Gwen’s friend. I will be Emcee this evening.

Apologies have been received from Emerita Professor, Di Yerbury, AO and Hornsby Shire Mayor, the honorable Phillip Ruddock.

On behalf of Gwen, I extend a very warm welcome to:

Gwen’s family, and big hugs to Gwen’s oldest grandson, six-year-old Leo and her only granddaughter, four- year-old Luna. The other three little ones, Zachary, Connor and Raphael are tucked away in bed. 

I also warmly welcome:

Nan Horne, former Mayor of Hornsby Shire Council and Gwen’s long-time friend.

Members and friends from:

The Society of Women Writers, NSW.

Women Writers Network, Writing NSW, Lilyfield 

Turramurra Writers 

White Pebbles Haiku group, and Tanka poets

Hornsby  Bookclub

Members of the former committees of Cherrybrook Community and Cultural Centre and Gumnut Community Centre.

And friends from all walks of life.

 It is wonderful to see you here. 

It is now my pleasure, to introduce you to Nick Bles zyn ski who will speak to and launch Gwen’s book, Between Two Worlds 

Nick has spent 40 years in the media industry as a film-maker. He is a best-selling author of three books, his most notable being, ‘Shoot Straight you Bastards’ about the trial and execution of Australian icon, Breaker Morant. Nick has been a journalist and PR advisor. As a writer/director he has worked at the ITV Network, Channel 4 and 5 in the UK, MTV New York. In Australia, he has worked on the National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, History Channel, the ABC, Channel 7 and 9. He is a screen & media teacher at TAFE and NIDA.

Please welcome Nick  Bleszynski. 









Thank you for being here and please enjoy the rest of your evening.

Walking two worlds by Colleen Keating

“Walk as if we are kissing the earth with our feet” exhorts Thich Nhat Hanh 

A summer storm blew up just when I was about to take a walk and I waited an hour. Little did I know in some parts of Sydney trees were downed and much damage had been done . 

However It added to an interesting walk as the bush had experienced a wild storm. There was still a wail of wind in the upper echelons of trees.  The forest world had been disturbed  

Leaves were blown wild and ripped twigs and brambles scattered the ground. Bark from the many eucalypts stripped fallen like a garment discarded forcefully. 

The light played through thunderers grey cloud with a sudden dazzle of breakthrough, lighting up small pockets of bush and then crowding over. It was an eerie feeling. 

Yet the movement of walking slowly, brought back the rhythm of my mind in step with nature.  Washed clean by the storm there was a new green and the sparks of rare sunlight threw another dimension onto the scene.

The forest floor was alive –  the small world under my feet, writhing beyond sight, but the aroma was strong with roots, mycelia, decomposers, bacteria, protozoa, worms, grubs, beetles beyond counting, beyond knowing . . .   the living and the dead brushing together to create their own symphony of sound and activity.  

The small steps in evolution going on right before my eyes,
its own miracle.  And the constant reminder we are not needed here. 

Coloured algae rooting into the sandstone, fungi at work,  soft moss and lichen covering the rocks in this rainy weather . maybe they will receed into grooves, nooks and crannies in the dry.  Small ferns, bracken ferns breaking up the rock for soil for the tree ferns,  palms, trees, and towering eucalypt  – the evolving world of plants.  All here for the ,  curious to observe the whole evolutionary plan before us.


it seems to me modern life is happening faster than the speed of thought, thoughtfulness. there is no time to ponder an event before the next one comes tumbling in and like an ocean wave  drops it new story. So it is good to walk in kairos time rather than the every day khronological time.. . .well just for awhile. 

As i came across a quiet corner the light briefly broke thru the clouds . i felt dizzy.

I found myself in two worlds. I was present here in the echoes of coolness but sensed a whole world around me 

 I had a foot in two worlds . . . there was chatter, laughing, mourning birthing.  I realised this was an ancient popular indigenous place. I am prone to being in two worlds . Once arriving at Schofields to celebrate a new school opening, as I got out of the car and put my foot down onto the ground I was part of a massacre the thudding of the ground, the cries, the moans .The memory  has never gone away. It made me quite sick as no massacre had been acknowledged there, at the time. I believe acknowledgement is better now. 

Happier crossovers have been at Terramungamine Common where we camped many times outside Dubbo on the  Macquarie river bank. Sitting there around a fire once I was aware of stamping, dusty feet and knew on another level we were not the first here and not alone. These were ponderous activities to be mingled with. And another in the bush at Marg’s old place . I found I was in a bora ring . It was happy too and was a good reminder of our ancestors before us. And of course at Myall Creek I smelt the burnt flesh once but at least I knew this was a documented event.  

Not sure how I rambled onto this experience . The  sense of two worlds was gone as quickly as it came and the heavy clouds dulled the forest world into an ominous and enchanting place to be. 

A tiny bunny rabbit peeked up at me and then ran as fast was his little legs would go  and I called after it .  . . You stay well hidden or we will have signs up saying baits are set here . like in other places. 

I disturbed a brush turkey courtship ,. . .the female waiting below and the male preparing the nest for the next stage. I sneaked past and apologised for the disturbance. 

 I knew I was well off the normal track as I was wandering to see if there was an easier way to get Michael to the hugging tree . (didn’t find it)

The forest holds such wonder and by going slowly to savour it I find much to be grateful for. 

The intricate patterns of trees, the colours on rocks the pools and the circles I made by dropping in a pebble.


Having this time to stop and absorb my surroundings is a luxury I am grateful for. 

It is my air pocket, my lifeline  needed in the busy city of life with the crowed world of demands.