Sunday, January 5, 2020

A Lovely Book Event at Lamakaan - Ranjani Rao and Jayanthi Sankar

I've known Ranjani for over a decade now. When we spoke about writing (I was already posing as a wannabe writer those days) she would tell me of her interest in writing and how she wrote in her spare time - she's a highly qualified scientist with a Ph. D. from some big-time American University. I always felt she writes really well and knew that if she ever took herself seriously, she'd do wonderful work.
Krishna, Jayanthi, Ranjani and Arun - panel discussion
In those days, a decade ago, she was in Hyderabad and we'd meet at book events or at workshops. Interestingly her daughter Aparna also crossed my literary path. I attended my first lit festival - the Hyd Lit Fest in its second edition if I remember right, at Taramathi Baradari - representing a hastily put together panel of Hyderabadi writers. (I also met two of the nicest people I met on the writing circuit that day, Krishna Shastri Devulapalli and Chitra Viraraghavan.) While roaming about I was pleasantly surprised to find Aparna with her school mates checking out the Lit Fest and if I remember right, she also won some prize that day.

Ranjani has also been part of my book events and always took the trouble to give me feedback on my books or my blogs. Then one fine day she married and went off to Singapore. There, she turned into a more serious writer, and also publisher, and in the short span of two years, she has already published four books - 'No More NRI', Negative 'Spaces', 'Desi Modern Love - An anthology of True Stories' and 'Train Friends'. Her publishing house is called Story Artisan Press.

I also remember Ranjani being kind enough to humour me when I conducted a 'Champion's Mindset' workshop at home - and gave me a Thumbs Up too. I needed that badly then.

Yesterday, Ranjani and her writer friend from Singapore, Jayanthi Sankar did a Hyderabad book launch of their books - 'Train Friends' by Ranjani and 'Dangling Gandhi' by Jayanthi at Lamakaan. We all went - Shobhs, Anjali and me. Priyanka joined us there as did Shailaja. Ranjani was very gracious while speaking and said I encouraged and mentored her but like I said, she was already writing much better than I was even then. She went a step further and gifted me a thoughtful gift - writing pads and pens. Beautiful. Thank you Ranjani.

Between egg bondas, aloo bondas, samosas and chai, the launch went off very well. It was organised by Hydro, a literary organisation and it was a fun bunch of young writers and readers. The compere infused great energy as did all the panelists and guests. Ranjani and Jayanthi read very well, kept the audience engaged with great humour and held the same energy till the end like pros. Wonderful stuff. The test was Anjali - who didn't want to stay beyond an hour - but I caught her watching the show with her mouth agape, sitting by herself up front and totally enjoying every bit of it. Another big plus was meeting Aparna who's blossomed into this lovely 22 year old now studying economics and public policy.

Wonderful work Ranjani. Keep writing more and more. And hope to attend more of your events in the future. 

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