In the last five years, two of my happiest days in Delhi every year are the Bookaroo days. There is something in the very air that fills my heart with joy: the crisp November-in-Delhi weather, the buntings, the happy kids running around and the not-so-happy ones harrying their parents, and people celebrating books and stories and art. So one walks around meeting old friends, or people who feel like old friends because one loves the work that they have done.
Sanskriti is the perfect space for the festival: there are nooks and corners and odd spots and terracotta horses, which add a certain charm to the sessions which no ordinary hall or garden or more conventional space could do.
It was the first Bookaroo for Duckbill. This time last year, as we wandered around Bookaroo, we had no idea that next year we would be back with our own publishing house. It was really exciting to see our books in the shop and see our logo up on the banners. (Okay, that will become passé by next year, but it was truly delightful this year!)
We had two sessions (but we only have three authors whose books are out, so this was not too bad!). The first was RamG Vallath’s Giggle with a Gurgle at the Think Tank. We were a bit apprehensive as Oops the Mighty Gurgle was pretty much going from press to Bookaroo, and perhaps not too many kids would have heard about it, but to our delight and surprise, the session was really well attended. RamG discoursed elegantly on groinks, gurgles and time travel (and hee-hawed on cue), while Rudi read exuberantly. The traditional Cerebum greeting was demonstrated and then it was time to learn some Gurglese and invent the gadgets of the future, which the audience did with amazing inventiveness.
The second session was Anushka Ravishankar’s Monsters, Songsters and Much Such Madness. The kids who turned up for the session were perhaps a bit too young, but wearing their pink monster masks, they seemed happy to laugh at Anushka’s reading and join in with her small chorus to ‘sing-a sing-a sing-a’.
And there were so many other wonderful sessions: Paro Anand, always in splendid form, Ranjit Lal, Jerry Pinto, Samina Mishra, the ACK and Tinkle guys, Sampurna Chattarji and Michael Heyman, the amazing Asha Nehemiah, Roopa Pai, the list is very long …
Bookaroo is not perfect—the food still gives trouble, and I am a bit of a book purist so the focus on performance occasionally seems to get a bit too much—but really, it is quite wonderful. I am sure perfection will happen sooner or later. But in the meanwhile, Swati, Venky, Jo and all the other lovely people who organize and run Bookaroo, you give us so much joy! Thank you!