Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Fast forward a few decades, add a couple of enterprising history buffs--who bought the old fort, restored it, and turned it into a premier hotel--and here we are, having a back-to-our-roots vacation of a lifetime. I know there are more glamorous forts and palaces in Rajasthan, but for me, personally, Neemrana is the best of them all. You can take a Chauhan out of Neemrana, but you can't take Neemrana out of a Chauhan. (In case you're wondering ... Chauhan was my maiden name.)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The book follows the journey of a sapling, a boy, and a road; but most of all, the place where they all grow—an unnamed village in India. The boy finds a young tree in the middle of a busy village street and carefully borders it with stones. What happens next could happen, perhaps, only here. The stream of people and animals swerve to make room for the young tree and the path gradually curves out enough to accommodate both. Over time the dirt road turns into a major paved road, the village turns into urban sprawl,the boy into a father and grandfather. And the tree grows tall and wide into a refuge for wildlife, a resting place for people and animals, and a landmark of the cityscape around it.
The book resonated for me at a very personal level--I grew up in New Delhi but every time I come back it is different. India has been growing at an incredible pace. The fields and villages of Haryana that we used to drive through to visit my father’s farm have turned into Gurgaon, a major international city. And yet, at some cultural level, it is the same. It is difficult to capture that sense of change and sameness, but OUT OF THE WAY! OUT OF THEWAY! does it effortlessly.
And this is no wordy, complicated, messagey book. The simple narrative and catchy refrain work beautifully for the picture book reader. The illustrator of the book (would you believe, another Uma Krishnaswamy, this time with a “y” instead of an “i”?!!) has done a great job breathing life into Uma(i)’s prose with her wonderful folk inspired artwork. I can’t tell you how many times we’re recognized something around us from the illustrations in the book on this trip. Look, a bullock cart/ street light/ street dog/ mango seller … just like in the book!
I leave you with some pictures of trees and street life from our trip that made us think of the book. Hope you’re enjoying the blog tour so far. Over, out, and Namaste from India!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
So we arrived from Ranchi to Delhi on a 5:45 PM flight and left at 4:00 AM the following morning for Nainital--all to avoid the crazy traffic snarls in New Delhi. But it was worth it. We sailed right through the sleeping city and reached the Raj Bhawan in Nainital in time for a late breakfast!
Next stop: Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, India. Mostly to meet, among others, my husband's 86 year old grandfather and two week old nephew. Bonuses--shopping in the old style Sakchi bazaar, visiting the Tata Zoo (Tata Iron and Steel basically built Jamshedpur), and meeting the cutest dog in the world, Max (except for our Yogi, of course).