Monday, January 28, 2013

MONDAY 28th January

Okay. Ten days. Almost. Since my last post.

But I'm back in Delhi. Arrived this afternoon. I feel I've been running continuously since my last post. Even though I've been mostly sitting down. And eating. *sigh*

This is going to be a very quick recap of the week, which was built around the birthday of my niecelet, who turned eight this month. On Sunday the 20th, we went to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur -- the niecelet, her father, the sister and me. A great time was had by all and I will eventually post photographs from the trip. On the 21st, the sister and I had dinner with my uncle, aunt and cousin, all three visiting from London, at the Madras Gym. Good dinner, great conversation -- we haven't met for a very long time, so it was fun to catch up.

During the day I worked on the design for the cover of a collection of short stories (by me) due to be published by Zubaan. That was fun, but also a bit stressful since everything has to be done at break-neck speed these days. Publishing is no longer the leisurely occupation it once was. Books fly out of presses like bullets. And vanish just as quickly ... which is why it's worth making the effort to produce attractive covers. Alas, "weird" is what I am best at producing, not "attractive" and this cover design is no different. But at least there's a design that we all agree is worth working on and so that's a relief. More about this later -- I mean, when the book is closer to flying out of the press.

All of the 22nd was spent at the office of my publisher in Madras, Tulika and Radhika Menon (the proprietor) in particular. I was supposed to be helping to organize their artworks for an exhibition early next month, but more than half the day went in just talking and talking and TALKING - a broad, wide and flowing discussion about many different facets of publishing for children and of being an illustrator of children's books (me, not Radhika) and of the number of important subjects that really had to be tackled, such as nudity and prudery amongst them. But the 22nd was a red-letter day for another reason -- a new child in my family -- this time a boy, in the US, born to my niece there, who had a daughter just 18 months ago. So that pretty much took care of all thoughts and communication for the whole of the 23rd. I'm sure something else happened, but it is now a blur, during which I also managed to work on a concept note for Tulika's exhibition. On the 24th, the nephew arrived from Bombay and aside from eating too much food while talking about food -- he is a well-known food-writer -- the birthday had to planned for and stuff had to bought for it.

On the 25th, there was a very discrete and self-contained celebration, at two speeds. One speed, sedate and dignified, was downstairs in my mother's house, attended by four others aside from the immediate family. Cake, sandwiches, samosas, soft drinks and chips were had. The other speed was manic and heady, attended by two (only two! And still it was like a herd of elephants overhead!) young friends of the niecelet and was celebrated upstairs, with her parents and the boys' mother. I didn't go for that, having already had my fill downstairs. Five hundred balloons (regular air-filled balloons, not gas) were blown up by a professional Balloon-Wallah and deployed all up and down the driveway and in the stairwell. At party's end, these balloons were ritually popped by all three celebrants, with the help of plastic forks and to the accompaniment of much whooping joy.

On the 26th, the sister and nephew left for a two-day stay in Cochin, while the household rested from the party and the country celebrated Republic Day. My mother watched the parade on TV while I contemplated my wasted life, in the gloom of my room, while gnawing moodily on a gigantic triangular slab of Toblerone that my Madras niece had thoughtfully bought for me. On the 27th, my architect cousin brought a Chinese takeaway lunch to share with my Mum and me, and on the 28th ... well, that's TODAY! I left for Delhi.

So, yes, many of my resolutions have been suspended during my stay in the South, but I am expecting to bring them all back online, one by one ... stay tuned! If nothing else, there will be photographs.

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