The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Shower of stories & a song

book bazaar

It is not always that one gets to hear an author sing at her book launch. Former journalist Ashwini Devare sang a few lines of a Marathi prayer song in memory of her grandmother, to whom she has dedicated her maiden collection of short stories, Batik Rain and Other Stories, at Oxford Bookstore.

The book is partly a reflection of Ashwini’s experiences round the world with her father having been in the foreign services. The stories capture the gamut of confusion, dilemma and rich experience that the Indian diaspora go through.

“The book highlights the practical problems of families of those in foreign services. But their children also become global citizens in the process,” said Rajashree Behera, the regional director of Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, who launched the book along with Sujata Sen, the director of British Council (eastern India).

Sen wanted to know more about the making of the book. “The book took me three years to write. It was after I stopped working in TV. I wanted to move beyond headlines…. The stories were lurking in my head. Then the cloudburst happened and they came pouring down,” began the author as she shared that her tryst with writing began at 11 years when she would write her troubles and experiences in a diary as she attended schools in different countries.

Some tales were drawn from personal experience while others had shades of characters the author had met. Sen and Devare discussed some such characters while the latter expressed her wish to return some day. “This book can be for anyone. It talks about rootlessness, the feeling of abandonment…,” Devare said.

The title comes from a story on the cloudburst in Bali, a place close to the author’s heart. “I have a strong connection with Indonesia. We used to stay there. I liked Bali. I don’t want people to forget it. The two characters in the story find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and are almost like the puppets that Bali is famous for,” added the author.