The added flavours of an inter-racial wedding



Signing on to a writing project like this was a new experience altogether. The occasion was the upcoming wedding in an Indian family settled in the US. And it was not any ordinary wedding. The bride was Gujarati and the groom an American. And the family thought this marrige  would make a good kids story about acceptance and integration in multi-racial America.

mena back cover z

mena cover z














The bride and groom decided they wanted their experience to be pitched to kids aged 8 to 12. So my brief was to turn this real life love story into a book that would interest young readers.

In the process I got to know two families via e-mail as siblings and parents shared their stories with me. I enjoyed the writing and illustrating process thoroughly because the family were completely open to experimenting, giving me total freedom to choose how to tell their story.

So the wedding was on the 28th of April. And this book was shared with guests, somewhat as the ‘return gift’. And now, it is available on Kindle, and soon on Amazon USA. Since the family has been a long-term supporter of Pratham, all proceeds from the sale of this book will go to this NGO working with disadvantaged kids across India.

mena barbeque

mena dance




A potential Manual for Mischief-makers?



Prankenstein_Book of Mischief_Front CoverSpeaking Tiger, a fairly new

publishing house, has just launched

their children’s imprint, Talking

Cub. And they’ve announcing their

arrival, quite fittingly on Childrens’

Day, along with an anthology of

stories picked by Ruskin Bond and

Jerry Pinto. Kids will be pleased that

the theme of the book is pranks!

And the blurb promises a wide

variety of  pranksters.


The prankster in my short story  ‘Friends or Enemies?’ is a cat! There she is… above the book title, guarding a big bone.

Asian Festival of Children’s Content


Books launched at AFCCIt was quite exciting getting to launch my book ‘Trapped’ at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content’ (AFCC) at Singapore this May. Among books from all over Asia, three  by Indian writers were launched at the fest, so it was great meeting Srividya Venkat (launching her book ‘Pickle Mania’) and Varsha Seshan (for the launch of ‘Bholu and the Smart Card’) — two writers who resemble each other so much, that many mistook them for sisters. That’s Varsha on the right, beside the AFCC book launch poster, and I must thank her for sharing this shot.


Book launch apart, the event was fabulously packed with workshops, lectures, opportunities to meet writers from all over Asia, see their work, buy their books…the illustrator’s gallery was stunning. The country of focus was Indonesia and some of the talks by writers from there — discussing the challenges and solutions – seemed very relevant to India.

I might have missed Lily Kong’s adorable series on Dad, except for the fact that we were both in the cross-platform sessions together. The festival book store ‘Closetful of Books’ was packed, with people and books. I also spotted the Children’s Book Trust stall in the main courtyard.

Dads for sale

The other mega bonus was the library’s coffee shop — the best eclairs I’ve eaten in decades. With good college friends Shanthi and Subu, also in S’pore at the same time, food played a somewhat greater role than literature, over the course of the fest.

Was super impressed by the number of local publishers in a tiny city-state like S’pore. They’ve also got their language publishing programme going at full steam — Malay, Tamil and Chinese books filled the stalls.

I tend to think of libraries as cozy, warm, period buildings and the Singapore National Library, the venue for the fest, just turned all those images on their head. It’s very modern, all-glass and high rise, open and welcoming, with access from two busy roads. And seemed massive enough to absorb the crowds at the fest without feeling cramped.

At the cross-platform sessions, a short chat with Luke Sanoop of YouTube.

Image courtesy – The AFCC Facebook Page

The Way to a Reader’s Heart is via her Stomach



Entering Mumbai’s Kitab Khana was like a shot in the arm for someone as book-crazy as I am. Remember, in namma Bengaluru, we’ve just said a tearful goodbye to Strand at Manipal Centre; to PageTurners next to Lakeview on MG Road; to ver.1 of Gangarams (i.e, its 3-floored avatar…it’s now opposite Bhima on Church Street, on one floor of a new building); to the Crossword flagship store on Residency Road (the satellite ones at Indiranagar, Frazer Town, etc are more about toys, magazines, music, etc); and earlier, to old Premier off Church Street.


So this lovely store in a heritage building right beside Flora Fountain, with books that go up to the roof, somehow spelt hope to readers (and writers!). Of course, the fact that it has a great café attached to it, only adds to its charms…a particularly divine dessert menu!


All the kids’ literature events at Kala Ghoda happen in this store, where managers and assistants look on stoically as kids traipse thru the shop, to and from some book launch, workshop or reading. I couldn’t ask for a better place to launch ‘A Pair of Twins’ (published by Karadi Tales).


I had a close college friend of mine travelling to Mumbai with me. And we both planned to check out all that we could of the Kala Ghoda culture menu in the few days we were there. But somehow, before book launch and after it, we’d find ourselves back at Kitab Khana, running up huge bills at the book section AND at the café. Having a friend in tow also means that there’ll be some decent pictures of the event. Shanti got a nice one of Nayantara, the young illustrator (in the sari) and me. And the nonstop catching-up-on-gossip meant I had no time to feel nervous!


Here’s a link to my blogpost on the Karadi Tales site.



There are a couple of other tidbits about the book from the Net…