Tag Archives: Adithi Rao

Interview With Adithi And Chatura Rao

The launch of Growing Up In Pandupur in Mumbai gave us a chance to interact with two very versatile and creative authors – Adithi and Chatura Rao.

Growing Up In Pandupur is a marvelous collection of 13 short stories for children. And parents alike.

The writing is mature and stable, but at no place does it feel commanding or overbearing. So kids will have no difficulty breezing through the stories.

Talking to the author-sisters would really make you feel as if you are talking to a friend…a mature, responsible and a really caring friend, who will always guide you through difficult times.

Yes, the book in a way brings to light certain topics/issues that kids face but are unable to communicate with their folks. The book comes as a friend and a guide to not just children, but parents too.
Well, the sisters are good at hearing you out as well. No wonder kids and parents wouldn’t leave a chance to strike a conversation with them, at the launch. Their observation and insight to finer things, usually overlooked by most, is admirable.
I got a chance to interview the sisters and here’s a bit of the conversation:

How did you chance upon the title of the book?
There is actually a small town by the name of Pandavpur between Bangalore and Mysore. We passed through it many a times and it is quite scenic. While we were penning out the stories, we modified the name to Pandupur.

How did you think of writing a short story collection for kids?
Between us sisters we have three kids. And we discuss every issue our children are facing or undergoing. There are a lot more challenges you face as a parent. There are times when kids cannot really express what they feel, and this (writing stories of different themes that revolve around kids) was a way of connecting with them.
We already had a few stories around the theme of growing up, and we added a few more to complete the book.

Broadly, what would you say are the diverse topics the stories touch upon?
From sibling love-rivalry, to the loss of a family member, to child sexual abuse, to growing up –most of the stories cater to topics any child can relate to. For that matter, any parent can relate to.

Amongst the stories in this book, which ones are your favorites?
Grandfathers and Trees
Sister’s Song
The River Came Home
The House Painted Blue

Could you name a few of your favorite books?
Chatura: I like fantasy-science fiction work by Ursula K. le Guin, novels by Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck.
In children’s fiction, The Bridge To Terabithia, the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. le GuinJ.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan, and Winnie the Pooh, and Huckleberry Finn.
Adithi: I like the work of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mocking Bird). Her ability to get into the psyche of a child is commendable. I also like R.K. Narayan’s  Malgudi Days and The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey.


What were your growing up days like?
Charuta: We had a typical middle-class childhood. Grew up in south India, moving between Chennai and Bangalore. Played a lot with large groups of kids. Cycled, went for music classes, stole mangoes, befriended stray dogs and adopted their puppies, ran a book library from a friend’s garage, spied on crabby old neighbours, got together and put up plays and dances at Christmas in our grandfather’s garden…
Adithi: Pretty much as Chatu described it! Bangalore was my Pandupur, complete with the magician grandpa and a grandmother who was never too tired to read, cook, feed, sing, play, talk or listen when it came to me…

Would you share an incident (from childhood) that has stayed with you till date?
Chatura: I used to be petrified of having my nails snipped by my grandfather. He was an ex-armyman and believed in crew cuts! So I’d hide around the house, sneak around quietly, until inevitable he’d shout for me, and then i’d go to him like a lamb to slaughter! I remember the undersides of beds and tables a lot because i was often playing behind/ under them with my dolls, and also hiding from people. One time my sister got an injection and while she yelled, i hid behind the bed and cried too 🙂
Adithi: “About Grandfathers and Trees” pretty much tells of my most poignant childhood memory.


What next do we see from you – individually and / or together?

Chatura: I’m working on a collection of stories for adults in the style of magic realism. Nothing being co-written with Adithi right now.
Adithi: Together we haven’t planned anything yet, although we’d love to do a “Pandupur Too”! Individually I’m sure Chatu will come out with a book. As for me, it has to be a film or I’ll burst!


If there was one advice you could give parents today, what would it be?

Chatura: Listen to the kids.
Adithi: That if it’s happening with your kid it is probably happening with lots of others as well, so it can’t be that bad. Let it pass with a sense of humour, things do have a way of working themselves out. This is advice for myself as well as for parents out there… I too forget, more often than not.
Psst: For people who still haven’t picked up a copy of Growing Up In Pandupur, “fie fie!”
Get it here!

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Book Review of “Growing Up In Pandupur” by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Growing Up In Pandupur

by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Though this book is essentially for kids, I’d recommend everyone to read it.

The issues addressed herein are so real and touching.

Growing up in Pandupur is a collection of 13 short stories for kids. Now, Pandupur is a fictitious township in South India. It is a figment of the authors’ imagination. And truly a brilliant imagination.

The book opens with the map of Pandupur, situated near the River Dhun.

The township has the essential necessities: a railway station, a bustling marketplace, couple of schools, some residential colonies (societies); parks, playgrounds, an orphanage; the river Dhun and of course the Dhun river dam project. So essentially engineers working on the dam project have made Pandupur their residence, with their families. And all stories connect most of the residents of that town.

The book opens with a beautiful song dedicated to the river Dhun. Creative and lyrical, the authors capture your heart already with the very first page.

Actually, the cover page of the book is so darn colorful that it catches the eye and fancy of all. The two days that I had the book on my work desk, all my colleagues walking around made sure they picked it up. It is that inviting! They all appreciated the illustration and loved whatever part they read randomly. (*Cheers Priya Kuriyan!)

Some of them have already requested me to lend them the book, while others have already bought it from Landmark. This actually shows how appealing the book is!

Coming back to the stories, all of them are beautifully penned.

The first story –“Polka-dotted Party” is about Raghav’s birthday party that he ends up celebrating at the orphanage. And why so? Well, that is for you to read and enjoy.

In “Goblins”, we see naughty Tejas reign his kingdom of fantasy world as Hobgob Supreme, enslaving other mortals. A very cute story about growing up and sibling love.

Moving on to “Changing Chintamani”, we see how little Chintamani’s life changes as he takes up football coaching during his summer vacations.

“The House Painted Blue” sees three musketeers Thangi Timmayya and her friends, the twins, Situ and Gitu, trying to solve a a funny mystery.

“Mallipoo, Free” shows how love bonds humans and animals.

“Nisha” is the story of a small girl who faces child abuse. The way the story is put actually makes it more relevant to today’s age, and how children can and should distinguish between a good touch and a bad touch.

“About Grandfathers and Trees” is a tender story about a grandfather’s demise.

“Sister Song” portrays sibling love. “For Preet” is a coming of age story, showing how girls mature faster and boys…remain boys! This one I absolutely loved!

“A Boat in the Rain” captures the heart of a young boy and the grief/anger he carries with him.

“Evenings in 201” connects Brigadier Ahmed and Rohan in quite an unexpected way.

“Warm-fuzzy” is an absolute poignant story about children and how they actually see each other.

The last story, “The River Came Home”, deals with development issues and how it affects some people, but the moral is that nothing remains forever. We have to accept the changes and draw strength from our past to move on to a better future.

Through Pandupurs’ children, Adithi and Chatura Rao weave a web of stories–life lessons in growing up: laughter and tears, insecurities, small unkindnesses and surprising friendships, stories that will resonate in the hearts and minds of children everywhere.

No fancy gizmo talk or fantasy world magic fluttering around. Everyday tales of growing up that appeals and resonates with children (and young adults) of all ages.

The setting is ideal and the imagery drawn in the readers mind is so real that you can visualize every story as you read it.

The book truly has it all – the beauty of Pandupur; the innocence of the children around; real issues that need attention; awareness towards certain topics that children refrain from talking about; topics that grown-ups do not discuss or tell kids about; all subjects woven to perfection!

The stories remain with you forever. Reading about Pandupur, I really wish to make a pit-stop at Pandavpur (a town near Mysore that inspired the authors) to capture the images in my heart.

The authors, Adithi and Chatura Rao craft such beautiful stories, bringing to life the ordinary experiences in such a marvelous way that opens your eyes and mind to a lot many things that go unnoticed. Especially for children. It teaches a lot about friendship, sibling love, growing up. The narrative is smooth and flawless.

This one is definitely a MUST HAVE/MUST READ book!

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