The added flavours of an inter-racial wedding

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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

 

 

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More desi than thou

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sunday mag pic 1

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/643426/days-desi-part-2.html

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/643427/days-desi-part-1.html

Enjoyed illustratsunday mag pic 2ing the two tongue-in-cheek articles for the Sunday Herald a couple of months back. They were on how, it’s now high fashion to rediscover our roots. And the deeper we dig, apparently, the more high-fashion we are!

 

 

‘Twist & Turn, Rock & Roll’ at Bookaroo in Mumbai

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trapped school session, aloo gobi

Doing school visits last year when ‘Trapped’ was launched in Bangalore, was a huge eye-opener. I’d roll up a large plastic sheet and trot off to schools with coloured markers. After reading from chapters in the book, where the teen protagonists Anandita, Arjun and Amit turn all their hassles and worries into songs, I’d invite kids to share their worries on the ‘wall’.

This year, ‘Bookaroo in Mumbai’ has invited me to do just that!

In Bangalore, I’d expected kids to be shy, particularly when the groups involved more than one class, with ‘seniors’ being present. But it turned out quite the opposite! They loved it. And jostled for space in front of the plastic sheet, seniors often being shoved aside by confident juniors who were in no mood to ‘hurry up’ because of those waiting behind them.

kids at trapped wall

Peer pressure, exam-fever, being compared to siblings… all these featured on the wall. Now and then I’d spot a gem like ‘I feel trapped by aloo gobi’ tucked away somewhere! When I asked that young author what she meant, she said, “That’s all that’s ever packed for my lunch…I don’t know how to say that I want something else, once in a way…’ It got a laugh from the crowd, but was sad, too.

The few times I did sessions on two consecutive days, I had to battle Muffin while trying to wipe the plastic sheet clean for the next day’s event. It seemed a lovely game for her, having me on all-fours on the sheet rolled out on the floor.

muffin and wall trappedAnd having used a wet sponge to begin with, meant ‘the wall’ soon had Muffin’s paw prints on it too. Using the curtain rod to clip the sheet on to to try and clean it, was a temporary solution that Muffin felt was ‘cheating’! She protested quite a bit, guarding her ‘wall’ from unnecessary cleaning.

At Bookaroo in Mumbai, this session of inviting kids to attempt verse is called, ‘ Twist & Turn, Rock & Roll’! And I’m looking forward to what kids come up with.

Check out the ‘Bookaroo in Mumbai’ action packed calendar at:  http://www.bookaroo.in/year/

Doodle Walls at ‘Bookaroo in Mumbai’

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There’s nothing like being given a blank canvas to fool around on — for someone who loves doodling. And when that ‘blank canvas’ is an ENTIRE WALL that I get to invite about 70 kids to scribble on, it sounds like a delicious mess! Just hope that’s a sturdy wall… it’s not often that kids are told, ‘Go ahead, sweetie, write on the wall! I will clean up after you…’ It’s usually the other way around.

Thinking about whaeyebrowst quick little tricks I could teach kids, that they could try out immediately, I remembered a comic strip I’d done some years back for a newspaper… it featured an eye-brow-less pair of characters… a tiger and a rat. The speech bubbles were also empty. So kids were invited to write their own dialogues, based on which animals they cast as the hero and villain.  And to add on the eyebrows in ways that matched the character’s mood or what it had said.

I thought I could combine ‘eyebrows’, that are a super-easy way to add expressions to a face, with something tougher — kids often struggle with drawing the limbs of animals. They tend to visualise those four legs like human legs, straight and long. So I thought I’d add a few tips on ‘joints’. My two sessions ‘Eyebrows afriends or enemiesnd Elbows’ on the 22nd of February will start off with a reading from my short story ‘Friends or Enemies’ illustrated by Lavanya Naidu, in the ‘Prankenstein’ (Speaking Tiger) anthology.

Really looking forward to some craziness from the kids.

Check out the action-packed schedule Bookaroo has planned for Mumbai kids at:  http://www.bookaroo.in/year/Funny%20Bunny%20Tales/mumbai/

 

Veggie shopping and a trip to a mela

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tomato 001

It’s been super fun working on Pratham Books’ series

of STEM books for early readers. ‘Tomato Chutney’ is

about a pair of siblings who discover some messy

truths about relative weights while doing the vegetable

shopping for their mother. Priya Kuriyan’s stunning

illustrations  will ensure every little reader remembers

this concept of ‘lighter and heavier’ for life!

 

tomato 002

 

IMG_20171122_215205I explored the idea of tables in the story ‘Maths at the Mela’ — about a bunch of smart school kids out on a field trip to a mela… accompanied by a not-so-bright teacher. Illustrator Nirzara Verulkar’s illustrations are super. She’s somehow conveyed this feeling of the kids being indulgent of a slightly slow teacher wonderfully. These pictures unfortunately are my phone shots off the laptop screen.

Both books will be out soon. It’s particularly exciting to know that they’ll be printed in five languages, including Kannada!

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Classic Bond

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I wonder how many editions there are of Ruskin Bond’s popular story…

‘The Blue Umbrella’.   Google the book and you’ll find so many different editions of it. Obviously, countless lucky illustrators all over have had a chance to work on this fabulous story. It’s a novella, so it was only for a short period of a few weeks that I could lose myself in this spunky pahaadi girl’s life, as it got serialised a few months ago.