When I wrote the first Farmer Falgu story, I had specific goals.
- I somehow wanted to convey that this earth is never quiet and Quiet is not necessarily a fun thing.
- I wanted to write a story about an Indian farmer
- I wanted music and dance in the story.
The quiet and noise thought has been rattling around my brain for years and I didn’t figure out how to tell that in a story until I found Falgu.
Falgu didn’t start out to be a Rajasthani farmer. He was a north-Indian farmer simply because I had chosen a Hindi name. I should thank Kanika Nair, the illustrator for giving him a setting, a place of his own and all the joy and colour of Rajasthan. You can find out more about the creation of Falgu here.
Like always I put something of myself into every story. Whether it is finding a home in Where is Gola’s Home? Or my Grandma in Balu’s Basket, there is a bit of me in every story.
In Falgu, I gave him my courage to plod on in spite of circumstances. He has an unbroken spirit, he is always thankful he’s got a glass, whether it is half-full or half-empty and he’s off somewhere doing something.
The music element of the book came from my desire to be a Karadi Tales author. They were traditionally an audio publisher and I thought musical elements in the story might pique their interest. Cunning of me? Sure!
When Karadi Tales accepted the first title Farmer Falgu Goes on a Trip, it was like a dream come true in many ways. I was a KT author now, Farmer Falgu had a home – not long after he had set out in his trademark bullock-cart as a manuscript.
Then of course, the spirit of Falgu lodged in my brain and thoughts. He was a real person. And I wrote another story for completely different reasons.
I always believed – I think my grandparents and my parents taught me – to turn problems into opportunities. What can you do with the situation you’ve got? And my dislike of eggs and my fascination towards omelets.
I grew up hating eggs. But the thought of an omelet always fascinated the chef in me. I can see why an Indian omelet can be a great treat – it’s got all the spices, chillies, tomatoes and onions. I came close to eating an omelet so many times – simply because I liked it as a recipe. Alas, I don’t like eggs. The next best thing – put it in a story. Find out more about this story here.
And so, Farmer Falgu set out to the Market. With eggs. And of course all picture books believe in the power of three. So Falgu had to take with him – white eggs, brown eggs and duck eggs. I researched duck eggs a lot – I didn’t know what colour they were. I realized they come in all sorts of colours. I’m sure Kanika wasn’t too pleased with my egg choices.
Now there are 4 Farmer Falgu stories. The third one is almost ready and the fourth one is still being created by fabulous co-conspirator Kanika Nair. Look out for the cover reveals and the story behind the story right here at www.chitrasoundar.com soon.
So Farmer Falgu as far as I’m concerned has already gone places, right? From one story to four, from paper to real life, he has come to life for me in so many ways.He is a real person with a twitter account and all. Follow him @FarmerFalgu. But that’s not all.
Farmer Falgu captured more hearts at the various trade fairs where my publisher Shobha showed him off to lots of people. Her love for Falgu is second only to mine, I’d think. She’d argue it is the other way around.
And now Farmer Falgu is in Japan already. He’s called Farga in the Japanese books (thank you Google Translate) and he’s still going places.
Et croyez-le ou non , il est là en Europe continentale trop , en France. Maybe I should set a new story in Paris for Farmer Falgu. The power of bullock-carts and his positive spirit has brought him to so many countries.
The kids in Japan and Paris are lucky – they’d have Farmer Falgu in their own languages and can enjoy the stories just like the kids in India do.
And here is a hopeful thought – he might be coming to Germany too. Couple of weeks ago at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I dropped in on Falgu and Shobha at their stand. And lucky me, who was there? The German publisher who wants Farmer Falgu to come to Germany. Fingers crossed, the bullocks would take him across the continent to Germany.
What would he be called in German? Would Farmer Falgu have the same name? Or a different one? Who knows? Whatever he’s called he’d be still Falgu to me and he’d still be the same positive spirit he always is.
You can buy English, French and Japanese copies from here. I'm also offering a festival offer for the English language copies until 11th November. Don't miss.