Most of you know I have a day job. That means I’ve to operate in the real world like a real person. I can’t daydream endlessly or treat my day job as a school visit. Of course if everyone who likes my books reviews them, puts stars on them on online retail websites and recommend to their friends, soon I could stop going to work and write all the time.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to tell you how my boss at the day-job gets exasperated with me when I forget I’m not a writer on those three days.
PLEASE DON’T TALK IN RHYME and other exasperations!
The above video was made at home! Full disclosure!
Chitra please don’t correct sentence structure in every business email
and please don’t ask your staff to imagine an alien and a cow during work hours
Chitra please don’t read out minutes of the minutes like a story
And don’t illustrate your meeting notes
Chitra please don’t clap your hands when you want attention
And don’t organise team meetings into groups of 3
Chitra, please can you stop staring out of the window
and get back to your boring paperwork.
Well, I try most days to be good. Some days, I scribble on the side and some days I get grumpy because I want to be somewhere else. But I should say I have the most understanding day-job ever. They support my writing in very big and small ways. So this is just a tongue-in-cheek poem I wrote, on the way to work.
In part this is inspired by a post that Sarwat Chadda posted on 17th May titled “Shane’s World” about a Walmart employee (from Thunder Dungeon).
Summer break just started in the UK and I’ve been thinking about my own summer vacation when I was a kid. Our summer vacations were perhaps not that big a deal because we lived in joint families. Dads went to work as usual and Mum and grandparents looked after us. I’m sure we drove our mums mad whatever we did.
We didn’t have the pressure of planning a holiday. Those days people rarely took time off and went away somewhere. If they did, it would be to visit family in another part of the country. There was no hint of camping or theme parks or seaside holidays.
My typical summer holiday before I was turned ten would have consisted of – holiday homework, Hindi class, play Trade (or what the rest of the world calls Monopoly), play Indian board games – hand-drawn Ludo, traditional snake and ladder, Carrom and other traditional games. Everyone participated – uncle, aunts, visiting relatives, friends.
Then a mandatory nap in the afternoon followed by a snack. We used to hover around the kitchen bothering our grandma for something special. I picked raw mangoes from our tree and ate it in the garden so I won’t be spotted.
We had chores to do too. Garden the plants, sweep the front yard, sort out your old school books and holiday homework. If we had run out of home work, she would ask me to copy out the newspaper or the dictionary – to learn new words, to get a better handwriting or generally keep busy so you won’t bother the grownups.
When the evening sun starts to set, it would have been cooler to get out. Every week (I think Tuesday or Wednesday) Mum took me on the bus to a lending library where she spent her personal savings on getting me books to read. I brought back bound copies of comics and lots of different books.
What time I didn’t spend time outside in the garden or running from one friend’s house to another, I spent reading. Especially from noon to four pm there was absolutely nothing to do except read as the summer sun scorched outside.
Later when I was older, I put together a team of friends and we create a newsletter. I wrote more in my early and late teens. But as a 9 year old, I read a lot. That was what summers were for.
I wish we had libraries and summer reading challenges. I wish we had the ability to borrow 16 books at a time that we could return and get more. We didn’t. But the reading I did during those years – transported me to another world – be it behind in history or forward in science fiction. Sometimes I wouldn’t understand a word or a sentence or even a cultural reference – but that didn’t stop us having fun.
How much of P G Wodehouse can a 9-year old lower middle class, south Indian girl get? How many of the jokes worked and how many didn’t? Who cares? I read P G Wodehouse, enjoyed it immensely and chuckled away in the corner of the room.
Summer holidays to me are full of
In reading nooks.
And card games.
Chill and relax.
Summer holidays to me are full of
and lending libraries.
And drying papadums.
And more housework.
What was your summer holiday like? How does it compare to today? What do your kids enjoy?
It’s not always that a story is set in South East Asia and shows us the intricacies and wisdom of the people there. Right from the start, I loved the narrator, she had me wondering where she was and what dangers awaited her.
As story unfolded, I loved not just the narrator but many of the characters I met on the way. The Warden was such a beautiful soul and so were the inmates and guards. Isra stood out as a person I wanted to meet in real life.
Luchi, the protagonist is vulnerable, yet has to learn her strength. She is new to the outside world and the outside world to her. But she learns slowly to trust, to unravel the mysteries of this world that is ours, and she makes mistakes like all of us do. Sometimes we all trust a bit too much and sometimes we are too careful.
When Luchi stays with Kiet’s family – I almost longed to be there with her. But Luchi is right, she had to be on her way and she couldn’t trust anyone.
When I visited Bangkok the first time, my immediate response was – I know this place. This looks so familiar just like Chennai, the city I grew up in. It had the same spirit, the same busy-ness and the same chaos intertwined with an unseen pattern that worked. And anyone who hasn’t been in a big city before would be overwhelmed just like our Luchi. And she manages to find her way around although she is betrayed when least expecting it.
I grew up with a maxim that everything happens for a reason. And that’s exactly what I would tell Luchi if I had met her a corner shop in Bangkok. Because her dire situation take her closer to her final destination.
I loved the poetic quality of AJ Paquette’s language in this book.
The descriptions and the story unfolded as if
they were spun of silken words.
My concern for Luchi kept me going.
I did want a bit more of the danger though. Luchi even though she does not know, has a safety net around her except when she starts walking on her own and towards the end and even then she gets a guardian angel. I think Paquette loved her so much that she didn’t put her in too much danger. As a reader, I wanted Luchi to be able to face the world on her own for a little longer. In this war-ravaged world, there are many such girls on their own, escaping camps or war zones and having to to survive on their own, and it would help them gain strength.
Nevertheless, it’s a story of adventure, of love, of families far and near, of families that are related by blood and not and more importantly of trust – trusting others and one’s own self. It’s a feel-good book for boys and girls with a sense of adventure. I’m sure it charms many readers as it charmed me.
I created a pinterest board with the floating market, just outside of Bangkok. It is still one of my favourite places since I visited it in 2005.
Here is an activity for all readers – can you create a pinterest board (or a cardboard collage) of all the places Luchi has visited in the story? Share it with us with the tag #ReadYourWorld.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.