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I finally met an author I love reading, when she had a launch of her new book, The Forest of Enchantments, in Mumbai. A dream come true!
Do you believe that you don’t choose a book, but the right book finds you at the right time? I firmly believe in this and have often experienced it in my life, that a particular book will find me at the time I need it the most and get me through some difficult periods, or will tell me what I need to hear at that time in life.
Quite by chance, at the library last year I picked up Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. What made me pick it up? Many reasons! I was attracted by the beautiful cover, I love reading hard cover books, I was curious what an Oleander was and the biggest reason, I was keen on reading a book by an Indian author and Chitra Divakaruni sounded Indian enough! When I turned to the back cover and read about the author, I was intrigued and captivated by her picture. For some reason she looked very familiar and oh so serene and calm. I had heard about Palace of Illusions and Mistress of Spices but had not paid attention to the author. So as it was meant to be, I picked up my first book by the author, who went on to become my absolute favourite 3 books in!
In the span of the year I read Oleander Girl, Before We Visit The Goddess, Sister of my Heart, Vine of Desire, One Amazing Thing, Arranged Marriage and Palace of Illusions. All books were so different but each one was brilliant. I heard Palace of Illusions as an audiobook and the experience was surreal. Next on my list is Forest of Enchantments which I have bought. When I look back at all her books that I have seen at bookstores and libraries all these years but for some reason never picked up, I feel like I have lost so many years. But there is a reason I am sure and more than anything I am grateful that I picked up Oleander Girl that day quite on a whim.
Thanks to social media today which has proved to be a boon in this case, I get to follow and interact with all my favourite authors. Chitra Divakaruni is one of the most graceful, down to earth and brilliant authors I have come across. She is sweet enough to interact with her fans on social media and it is something I really look forward to. Imagine my surprise when she followed me back on Instagram. I was over the moon. Its fun to have a peek into her life via social media, it somehow makes her seem more human and approachable to us fans! So when her India book tour for Forest of Enchantments was announced, I hoped and prayed that I would get a chance to meet and interact with her in Bombay.
The day before yesterday was the day. I took a half day from work, used all my brownie points to have my husband and mom tend to the kids so I could do this for myself. And boy am I glad! The 2 plus hours of travel one way to meet her was absolutely worth it! I reached the venue well in advance and to my absolute delight she was already there. I am so impressed that despite being famous she was there along with her husband and team over an hour before the event was to start. She was gracious enough to pose for a zillion pictures and I managed to get mine in between it all too.
The event started on time which is quite a rarity these days, another thing to admire about her. She respects her fans enough to not keep them waiting. The book reading was mesmerising, to hear her read excerpts from her book, was an experience I will cherish for a long long time. I learned a lot from the question answer session too. Got to understand her point of view and see things from a different perspective. This makes me question a lot of scenes in Palace of Illusions, which I will now have to re read with this new found information. But the best was yet to come, the book signing! Got my copy of the Forest of Enchantments signed, something I will treasure forever.
This by far was one of the best evenings I have had in a long time and I look forward to reading all her other books this year!
A version of this was first published here.
Images source: Pooja Jagtiaani
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