I was heading to Pune on some personal work (Shobha's mother's 88th birthday) and I told Gouri Dange, writer and family counsellor, and a wonderful person, that I would like to meet her. I had sent a copy of 'This Way Is Easier Dad' because I thought she would be the one who would have a balanced perspective on it. I value what had to say about the book a lot. Gouri, ever-so-thoughtful, suggested that since I was in Pune we could as well do an event around the book. She suggested 'Pagdandi (which they say means a path that is created by the repeated fall of footsteps), and said it was a wonderful place with a lovely ambience. We could do an event there.
My nieces who live in Pune quickly endorsed the view. I put the idea across to Sonal, Jaico's Marketing Manager, and she was more than happy to give a go-ahead with the program. Vishal of Pagdandi was open to hosting the event. Gouri was the obvious choice for me to be in conversation with. Since we had Anjali along, we decided it would be a fun event to do. Another factor was that since a lot of relatives from Shobha's side would be in Pune for the function, they could also attend the launch event including Raja and Satish, her brothers, one from Indore and another from the USA..
Pagdandi is a lovely little books, chai cafe with books to browse through and to buy. It has a distinct character, tables and chairs outside to eat and munch and talk and a space inside that could fit 30. I was looking forward for a crowd of about 20 of which a major portion would be made up of the family. Gouri said she would bring along four people with her and we hoped Pagdandi might get a couple of their regulars interested.
I reached the venue early with Raja and Anu. We met Meera, Vijay, Babu mama, Manik maushi walking in. Nice. Then came Shobha, Anjali, Miskil, Suhita, Gauri, Medha. Milind came with Satish, Marla, Nikhil and Aai. Gouri walked in with three of her friends and a couple of her writer friends, Swathi, who is also being published by Jaico soon.
Gouri's sister Mini came. Sanjay came with Neeru and a friend of theirs. Vaishali Kulkarni came from the Story Station and Neel, came from Vorbicon. Sonal came from Jaico. There were a few more who joined the event whose names I fail to recollect. After a bit of coffee (sponsored by Shobha) and a quick chat with Gouri about how we are going about the event, we were ready to get the show going.
This was as informal as it could get. Being a small place with mattresses inside, we take off our shoes before we go in. There are few chairs and we got them for the over 70s and all else sat on the floor. Gouri, Anjali and me were given chairs to sit. Sometime about 1110 am we started the program with Gouri giving a short introduction about the book and then she directly asked a question to me and Anjali - how did it start?
Anjali remembered that a lot of this would happen in the car when I dropped her to school. I explained how it happened for me - writing a blog, looking for content for the blog, finding interesting actions and words from Anjali and then finding that the Anjali series of blogs have some followership.
This time I was in no hurry so I placed on record my thanks to all concerned - Shobha for letting it happen, the time I have, the people who helped us all through this journey - Krishna Shastri Devulapalli, Chitra Viraraghavan, Sagar Rachakonda, Chacha Surendra (whose illustrations got enormous praise from every reader), Jaico, Akash, Sandhya, Sonal and well the readers themselves. I spoke of the process, the editorial dilemmas, how I approached the format etc.
Anjali read the first part 'I'll beat Yaswantt Someday', Gouri read the 'You're not the buying kind', I read 'Let them do their job and you do yours', then Miskil read the part about the 'Putting Smiles on Strangers content', then Marla spoke a bit about what she thought the book was.
She said she felt that the book was a bit of spiritual parenting book and dwelt some about what Gouri has earlier said about the book being the action end of the book 'How to Listen so A Child Talks and How to Talk So A Child Listens'. Then she read a chapter from the book and then we asked Medha to read as well and she read very well.
After the reading there were a few questions, mostly to Anjali about how the book might have changed her. She was pretty nonchalant about it. I said I was still blogging about her and once again with no ideas of making it into a book.
To whether the book had changed me I said yes, the process did change me for the better (made me more trusting and a better listener) and I figured it would show up in my writing as well. A question by Swathi about the editorial process, one by Mini about how I kept it honest.
We hung around the place for another 45 minutes chatting. I caught up with Sonal, signed a few copies and was pleasantly surprised to find that all 30 copies that Vishal had ordered had been sold. Wow!
Of course it helps to have family around and everyone bought one - despite the fact that some already had a copy. Miskil picked up 5, Satish and Marla picked up five and the near and dear picked up one of two signed copies.
Anjali signed a couple.
Sanjay bought two, his friend bought one and well - 30 books sold in that little joint is a huge achievement.
I teased Sonal about how they always leave me high and dry with a shortage of books on sale. I met a few new people - Vaishali, Mini, Swathi, Neel and others.
Vishal was a great host and sought me out and offered me coffee and offered Anjali a plate of sandwiches. 'Nanna,' she came running. 'I got a plate of cheese sandwiches free with hot chocolate'.
A job well done and I am so glad we did the event at Pagdandi. Lovely warm vibe.
A huge thanks to Satish for capturing the pictures on his camera and an even bigger thanks for everyone who made it. Am so glad we could do a Pune event when the family was around. Thanks all who were there in thought and spirit!
|Me. Gouri and Anjali at Pagdandi
|A dramatic pic by Sonal - with TWIED in the foreground
|Suhita, Anjali and Me
|Lovely book collection and display
|The audience just before the event started
|Shobha, Sanjay and Sonal
|Anjali reading a chapter
|An eclectic crowd - Anu, Nikhil, Manik maushi, Babu mama, Marla, Vaishali, Aai, Suhita, Milind, Vishal
|Signing a copy for Vaishali
|Shobha's mom with Miskil
|Signing for Medha - a talented writer, singer and a wonderful young lady
|Anjali signing a copy for Marla
|Shobha, Neeru and Gauri
|Sonal and Me in conversation
|Nikhil posing like he wants an autographed copy - just posing
|A view of the venue - Anu, Raja, Nikhil and Marla on the left