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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I love the words 'Happy New Year!' The way people's eyes light up as they wish you! These are words of hope--whatever the old year may have been, the new one is always full of promise. The wonderful thing is most of us like to believe that this is our wish fulfillment year. New Year's day arches like a brilliant rainbow and we can just about catch the glimmer of the pot of gold at the other end. The amazing thing is that the promise of this elusive pot of gold keeps us going, year after hopeful year. At least, it has kept me going.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to find it soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I believe in birthdays!

Another birthday! Whew!!! A friend called to wish me early in the morning and asked this challenging question--'What are your thoughts?' I replied , 'Another year gone!' The truth was was lolling comfortably in bed right then (it was my birthday, I had a cold etc. etc.) It was too private a time to share my real thoughts. I was not in the mood to tell her that I was silently celebrating the fact that I had been born and lived this long, that I had already received so many greetings and gifts. The house was full of flowers and more cakes than we could eat, even a bottle of wine--from my husband, daughters and brother. True, I was another year older. But very thankful that I'd been born in a family that believed in birthdays. At least once a year you had a day that was uniquely yours and yours alone. I was of the loved ones who had already wished me, would wish me, also of those who would not and those who could not--my loving parents and much loved older sister who passed away so many years ago. As a writer, I was assessing my achievements--two books in the past year, an award received but also ruing the fact that I was perhaps letting some dreams slide into that ominous black hole which consumes such aspirations. A sure sign of advancing age, too much contentment--or worse ennui?
I could not help recalling birthdays from the past too, the ones that stood out in my memory for different reasons. The growing up birthday--my 14th, which went without a party because a relative had recently died. I was still childish enough to be disappointed! My 18th--when I got my first sari as a gift. It took a couple of years to learn how to wear it properly, though! My 21st was a particularly sad one--my father who always made birthdays special, had passed away just a few months back. Also another birthday (I will not specify which one!) that was totally forgotten by those closest to me! And another made special by my daughter Sonali's thoughtfulness. I had no help and as usual--not being domestically inclined--had been grumbling and grumbling. I woke up to find that breakfast was already being prepared. That day I feasted on baked eggs and toast with tea served in a silver plated tea set, the best we owned at the time! After that I was ordered to take off for the beauty parlour--all the household chores would be taken care of! One of the best birthday presents I ever received.
This year I felt privileged because my daughter Garima was visiting and making me feel cherished. Last year I felt privileged too, celebrating my special day in New York soon after my grandson Kartik was born, with better-half Dilip, Sonali and her husband James and his mother Nancy, and my brother Sumant and his wife Renu and daughter Meera.
The day passed by with sporadic greetings from friends and relatives and each made me feel more and more special. When the day reached its grand finale--dinner with Dilip and two daughters, Garima and Geetika and two sons-in-law, Pranav and Ashutosh and one much adored grandchild Adya, I felt really blessed. I had cut four cakes--a couple are featured here--and there was nothing more I could really ask for. Of course, being human, before I went to bed I couldn't help thinking of the ones who hadn't wished me, particularly those whose birthdays I always remembered. Maybe that was good too, because I could magnanimously forgive them and feel one up!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

IBBY Honour List 2008

Receiving the IBBY Honour List diploma for Caravan to Tibet at the 2008 IBBY Congress Copenhagen was a thrilling moment! Here I am with Patricia Aldana, the IBBY President.
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Creative spaces

What can be a better space for a writer than a library? Over the years some libraries have beckoned like havens, while other have left me feeling distressed and dissatisfied. During my school days the library was a place to discover the world through National Geographic and Time magazine--our book reading was restricted to the classics--to enable us to develop a 'proper' style. I'm not sure if it really worked. As a 22 year old college lecturer pounding the Delhi pavements, trying to kill time in the heat of April, the American library was the best shelter. I could pursue my somewhat futile study of Steinbeck in air-conditioned comfort or try to get a better understanding of Faulkner who had left me completely foxed in my M.A. I expanded my horizons to the British Council Library, then located at AIFACS and wandered confused through the art galleries downstairs. The membership was a life saver when as a marooned housewife I searched desperately for reading matter. During the time I was working on my M.Phil (left incomplete) the Sahitya Akdemi library with its dozy, dim lit stacks made me feel like a furtive searcher. Still does--people tend to fling curious, sizing up glances when you try to locate a vacant space in the reading room. The India Habitat Centre library is my favourite right now. The calm is conducive to thought, there are not too many people and there's free coffee. I wish I could move in there!
So many libraries--such different libraries. The library in my daughter's neighbourhood in Queens bustles with energy. And among libraries where I've had the opportunity to present my work two libraries in Cape Town have left vivid impressions. The Rylands community library, a cheerful Indian space in a multicultural city. The overwhelmingly warm welcome, which included a Bharat Natyam performance and a scrumptious array of eats. Thanks so much Nazma for having me over! The second one, in a poor neighbourhood made my eyes pop. Why can't we have such libraries in our country? This library was actually a haven for kids for whom home was a dangerous space. They even served soup to hungry kids and gave them baths when needed.
I could go on forever. The charming spaces in some school libraries and the depressing lack of books in others. And the public libraries that are slowly losing their stock to termites and other such creatures with no one to care. The books locked up and kept out of reach from prospective
readers and the libraries that refuse to let you enter their hallowed portals. Never mind, the determined reader will always find a way. Happy reading!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kartik says 'Happy Birthday, Nana!'

Nana had an extra special birthday yesterday. Adya and Kartik wished him in their own way. Early in the morning he got a surprise call from an FM RJ who played a birthday song for him, and Baby came on the line and wished him. More greetings, gifts and bouquets followed. The partying went on till midnight when he cut a raspberry cheesecake at 11.59 pm!

Adu with flowers


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Caravan Moves on...

This Caravan is on the move...Debu's journey has taken him to Korea this time. I hope he has many exciting adventures there and makes lots of new friends.

But I really think it may be time for him to revisit his friend the little lama--maybe catch up with Nangbo--for all you know the robber chief has given up his wild ways and settled down to herding cattle and raising a family. But will his captive spirit let him rest? Surely magic cannot be buried forever. We hear of it being buried for centuries but some day it has to burst out of its confines. Will Nangbo's dormant powers seek a new master? Could it be Debu? Maybe in his next journey he'll find out...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Each day is new with Adya

Each day brings new excitement-hey Adya? Yes, today I roll, tomorrow I crawl, I cut teeth, I spout words and take my first tottering steps.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Looking back

It's rather late to be looking back towards 2007, but January allows you this. A wonderful year--two grandchildren both girl and boy, a book published and awarded. What else can a writer want except more and more books published and more awards and of course, some money in the kitty!

Now where's that coming from? Hope springs eternal...I even dare to dream it'll come from books!