I grew up on crumpets and ginger-beer.
No, my mum is not a Bakeoff fan. In fact, we don’t even have an oven in my home in India. As a kid, I read so many books with unfamiliar foods in them that my vocabulary broadened even if my taste buds had never experimented with them.
Even though I grew up in a city that has the second longest urban beach in the world, the beaches, coves and mystery islands I was reading in the books were exotic and exciting.
Now as a writer, I live in the UK. Here crumpets are available in supermarkets and the beaches are cold most of the year but for a brief period of glorious summer.
And I often think the hot Indian weather, the spicy food and the bullock carts would kindle the imaginations of children here, perhaps give them a sense of adventure about the world out there – which is different and yet the same.
And that’s what I want my stories to do. A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice, brings a whiff of the Indian summer, the caw-caw of the crows, the mango pickles and trumpeting grey elephants. Along with all that, it also poses questions to young readers about right and wrong, fair and unfair decisions.
Like all young people that have a sense of justice that is unwavering and strong, Prince Veera and his friend Suku too feel strongly about doing the right thing. And in each story, they have to sift through the facts, go deeper than the surface and the come up with a fair solution to the problem in front of them.
But it’s not all work and no play. They have a lot of fun playing pranks, running in the fields and eating corn. Their friendship and camaraderie is infectious and sometimes even the grownups join in.
As a writer, I hope these stories bring the magic of faraway places to children who do not live in India and for those who are familiar with India and its colours, smells and festivals, I hope these are affirming and recognisable.
As a child books from faraway places opened up my imagination, gave me a sense of wonder about the worlds I didn’t know about – for all it mattered an English countryside could have been on another planet, for me they were so exotic and magical.
That’s exactly what I want to do when I write stories – bring a bit of magic wrapped along with a story to every reader who stretch their boundaries and read a book about something or someone different from them.
Read A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice and find out if that magic reached you and lit your imagination.