The Kala Ghoda Children’s Literature Festival – Part 3 aka “Are We There Yet?”

With my replacement phone deciding to conk off and the Internet deciding to play dead, technology really had it out for me last week. The boycott effectively delayed the third and final part of the lit fest updates.

On Friday, we had only one event thanks to the second author going through withdrawal symptoms of his own. But Wisha Wozzariter was an utterly delightful book that I was very excited for the kids to read. Payal Kapadia came armed with bright yellow bookmarks, book-based activity sheets and her two costumed kids in tow. Her daughters acted well enough to put professionals to shame and Payal’s enthusiasm was clearly contagious.

Starring the two junior Kapadias as the titular Wisha Wozzariter and her new friend, the Bookworm
Starring the two junior Kapadias as the titular Wisha Wozzariter and her new friend, the Bookworm

She even got a tattoo artist along for the kids to get a temporary Wisha on their arms. Three of the organisers and me were much more excited than all the kids combined and had to constantly remind each other that we couldn’t push the kids out of line to get our tattoos first. After a seemingly endless wait, get our tattoos we did and showed them off proudly to all and sundry after some inordinate squealing.

Mine matched the t-shirt I was wearing
Mine matched the t-shirt I was wearing

Saturday was our most packed day yet with two events in the morning and another two in the evening. The first was for our tiniest kids based on the book 366 Words In Mumbai by Mirabelle D’Cunha.

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The bubbly author led the kids through a fun session around the words and places of the city and, in the end, staged an impromptu laundry dance that had the kids and their parents get their groove thing on (I may or may not have said groove thaang in an exaggerated accent in my head). You should definitely watch the fun video here mostly because I can’t figure out how to embed it here.

For our next event, we had theatre personality Loveleen Mishra gloriously narrating three fun stories in Hindi.

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Our evening events were held on the grounds of the Prince of Wales Museum and attracted an alarming number of people. Luckily for us, we had a star storyteller in attendance who had the audience (both kids and grown ups, heck even us organisers!) hooked on to her every word. Deepa Balsavar launched her Round and Round book, a thoroughly unique set of books that have neither any words nor any limits on the number of stories a parent or child can come up with. I was so busy distributing headgear (that I had helped glue, thankyouverymuch) that I completely forgot to click a picture of the author herself. But a diligent blogger has recorded the event here.

The storyteller Jeeva Raghunath, who brilliantly demonstrated how the book could be used, was an instant hit.

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She kept the crowds of parents and children thoroughly entertained.

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After a Pepsi break, she returned to dazzle the audience with a session of her own with lively enactments and audience interaction. My favourite part was meowing with wild abandon, although I was slightly envious of the group that had been assigned to bray like donkeys. A crowd favourite, she was mobbed by admiring parents when all her hijinks came to an end.

Exhibit B

On the last day of the fest, a Kala Ghoda shaped hole was quickly entering my life. But I didn’t have time to greet it with dismay because of all the chaos of running from pillar to post looking for The National Gallery of Modern Art where two of our events were being held. For a geographically challenged person like myself, finding a hitherto unseen place presents certain challenges that the need for punctuality does nothing to dispel. When I get there, I find that the kids have been relegated to a tiny corridor to listen to Miss Muglee Goes To Mumbai and make Miss Muglee paper bags. To her credit, co-author Shaheen Mistry took it in her stride, and narrated the tale of a crocodile in a big city with great aplomb.

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To my absolute delight, my favourite fest participant (she of the previously-mentioned quirky outfits and plastic glasses) took a shine to my shorts-and-t-shirt ensemble of the previous evening (an outfit in the loosest sense of the word) and decided to don on a similar outfit of her own! Her mom, who told me the tale, was disappointed I hadn’t repeated my sartorial choice, which I most certainly would have had the slightest idea of what lay ahead of me.

This completely adorable specimen is called Mariam. The crocodile is called Miss Muglee
This completely adorable specimen is called Mariam. The crocodile is called Miss Muglee

We had two simultaneous events after this and I hurried to the one at Kitab Khana. Deepal Dalal, author of nature and adventure stories for kids, and Bittu Sahgal, founding editor of the Sanctuary Asia magazine conducted a wildlife writing session for slightly older kids.

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After instructing the kids how it was done, the two showed them photographs of gorgeous birds and majestic wild cats and encouraged them to describe the fauna in terms worth any wildlife writer’s salt.

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And in the blink of an eye (or the whimper of a tiger’s prey?), the fest was done. What I got out of the entire event was a boxful of great memories, a chance to spend time with some of my favourite people and, as I discovered last week, a new job. Come March 1st, I’ll be dipping my feet into the waters of the publishing world. A world of books? That doesn’t sound too shabby.

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