The joy of home turf

There is something special about reading in a familiar space, on a familiar platform – home turf, if I may. My reading this Saturday at Kitab Khana bookstore as a part of the Children’s Literature section of the Kala Ghodha Arts Festival was one such. With the excitement of limited edition early release copies of my fourth History Mystery, Razia and the Pesky Presents and accompanied by a very tall, very crazy fellow writer, Parinita Shetty as the Wazir and my enthusiastic daughter as a stable hand as we enacted one scene, it was a session I thoroughly enjoyed. From the efficient trio of Lubaina, Parinita and Rukhsar there with hugs of encouragement to knowing my space for the next hour – where I need to leap off an elephant back (a chair stood in for it), the placement of the makeshift palki, where partners in crime need to run to in order to pinch my nose… the stage is familiar ground. There are usually a few known faces amongst the children and new ones who bring much joy with an opportunity to introduce them to my books. From Mr.Jagat and other sales staff who wave out and tell me which books are moving well, always encouraging, always supportive, to the promise of cheese toasts and sweet and sour apple tea as a reward to self at the cafe, Kitab Khana and the Kala Ghodha Arts Fest brings much joy, year on year. I’m hoping to have another juicy book to tempt them into inviting me again next year. And while non-Mumbaikars need to wait till June for Razia and the Pesky...

History and mystery at my book launch at the Kala Ghodha festival

‘Pa-pa-papa-pa-papa-pa-paaaaa!  Dham-dham-dhadha-dham-dhadha-dham-dham!’ sounded out Kitab Khana bookstore yesterday at the launch of my new History Mystery series with Akbar and the Tricky Traitor and Ashoka and the Muddled messages. About the trumpets and the drums. Bring together a bunch of enthusiastic kids, make them jump into history with the makings of a mystery and they’ll trumpet and beat out the rhythm anywhere. As we pa-paaed and dham-dhammed together, it was time to reveal the strange ways of a writer’s mind. It was time to bring on to stage … THE THING! Kept carefully in a wooden box, covered with a regal red cloth, a brave soul came forth to hold the tongs (for it was rather doubtful whether THE THING had been washed in a  while) and pulled out … … THE SOCK! (At this crucial point, the photographer froze in shock and missed clicking the all important photograph. Be thankful … for the stench, even over the web, might have made you faint.) Ques: Where did the sock come from? Ans: A bag full of props at a Duckbill reading workshop. And then? Well … socks relate to feet that relate to footsteps that connects to the mystery in the Akbar book. I cannot say more for fear of giving the mystery away, but you can learn more about the books by clicking here. The children giggled through the introductory video to History Mystery. We followed it up with trick questions on the Super Six and the Tremendous Ten investigators and I read out the first chapter from Akbar and the Tricky Traitor. We then went on to the...