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Ready for June Readathon?

While we are still getting past the uncertain times and the young ones are spending the summer break indoors, we have come to their rescue with our interesting June book collection. With a tinge of laughter, a touch of magic, a series of adventures, and a sea full of learning, our books promise to offer entertainment, comfort, and knowledge.

Here’s a curated list for June readathon!

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My First Library of Learning: Box set
My First Library Learning || .
Ages: 0 to 3 years

Foster a habit of reading in your little ones with this box set of 10 gorgeously designed and thoughtfully created board books. These books equip toddlers and preschoolers with essential reading, language, visual, motor and imagination skills. This bright, handy, easy-to-read and fun library contains books on English alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes, things at home, fruits and vegetables, seasons and opposites, transport, animals and insects.

 

Dealing with Feelings Box Set 2

Sonia Mehta

Dealing with Feelings || Sonia Mehta
Ages: 5+ years

Foggy Forest is inhabited by many fun little animals. These quirky creatures are always there for one another—helping each other overcome jealousy, boredom, sadness and confusion. Together, they deal with all the different feelings one might have every day. This special box set edition brings together six exciting titles to start a conversation with kids about their feelings and emotions.

 

Big Mistake
Big Mistake
Ages: 16+ years

Insecurities and assurances, conflict and solidarity, fearfulness and courage—the personal histories, stories and #ownvoices in this anthology cover a lot of ground in just a few pages. Let them spark conversations on love, identity, disability, family, body positivity, ambition and other tough stuff. After all, no matter how old we get, growing up can feel like one big mistake.

 

Nida Finds a Way

Samina Mishra

Nida Finds A Way || Samina Mishra
Ages: 7 to 9 years

Whenever Nida wants to do something new, Abba is scared for her and says NONONO. But Nida needs to learn and do new things—so the only way is for her to persuade Abba. Can Nida find a way?

 

A Pinch of Magic

Asha Nehemiah

A Pinch of Magic || Asha Nehemiah
Ages: 7 to 9 years

Veena’s aunt Malu is in trouble. Her pinching spoon is broken. She must get a new spoon or close down her herbal medicine business. But the only person who makes pinching spoons has disappeared. Can Veena help her aunt?

 

Unmasked

Paro Anand

Unmasked || Paro Anand
Ages: 11+ years

The year 2020 will forever be reported as the time when we all fell down. But it was also the year we all got back up and were forced to come together in a way we had never imagined before. In this timely masterpiece, Paro Anand writes of despair, courage and hope. Through eighteen short stories from the pandemic, Anand introduces us to characters who feel familiar and their stories intimate.

From a mother and son looking to make ends meet as the lockdown brutally affects their lives to a housewife who’s a victim of domestic abuse, from young keyboard wizards keen on making a difference to a home delivery executive who becomes an unlikely hero, this book unmasks the layers of the year that changed us all.

 

My Little Book of Krishna
My Little Book of Krishna || .
Ages: 3+ years

Naughty little Krishna’s search for butter leads to an unexpected adventure. With charming illustrations and simple language, this short tale about Krishna will entertain and delight. It is a perfect way to familiarize the little ones with India’s rich cultural fabric. It’s a must have to introduce a god from popular Hindu mythology and impart valuable life lessons.

 

My Little Book of Lakshmi
My Little Book of Lakshmi || .
Ages: 3+ years

Lovely Lakshmi comes to Earth once a year. Will she have a good time here?
With the beautifully illustrated pages, this short tale about Lakshmi offers a fun and enjoyable read about timeless myths and festivals for modern kids.

 

My Little Book of Ganesha
My Little Book of Ganesha || .
Ages: 3+ years

Clever Ganesha’s got something on his mind, but what that is you’ll have to read on to find.
This short tale about Ganesha has fascinating illustrations and lucid language, making it suitable for bedtime reading and parent-child association. It’s dotted with interesting facts as well as an interactive activities.

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The more (books), the May-rrier!

We know that our current times are not the most optimistic. But now more than ever, we believe that books can act as a source of hope and joy, howsoever small, and keep us going.

We have an assorted selection of books for you this May! These will keep your young ones occupied as they spend the summers indoors, inside the safety of their cozy homes.

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All-Time Favourites for Children

Ruskin Bond

Front cover of All-Time Favourites
All-Time Favourites for Children || Ruskin Bond, Kashmira Sarode (Illustrator)

Ages:  9+  years

All Time Favourites for Children celebrates Ruskin Bond’s writing with stories that are perennially loved and can now be enjoyed in a single collectible volume. Curated and selected by India’s most loved writer, this collection brings some of the evocative episodes from Ruskin’s life, iconic Rusty, eccentric Uncle Ken, ubiquitous grandmother, and many other charming, endearing characters in a single volume while also introducing us to a smattering of new ones that are sure to be firm favourites with young readers.

 

Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival

Lavanya Karthik

Front cover of Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival
Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival || Lavanya Karthik

Ages: 10 to 14 years

It’s time for the annual festival and a special guest is expected to arrive in Gadbadnagar, but has a certain President gone too far? Has Nani finally met her match in the meanest, scariest and awfullest demon ever to crawl out of the Dark Forest? Will the Mayor’s mustache ever run for office?

Wait, there’s more!

Fake Mystery Heroes! Haunted falooda! Giant dogs–

And what’s that again about goats? You’re going to have to read it for yourself. 

 

Mirror, Mirror

Andaleeb Wajid

Front cover of Mirror, Mirror
Mirror, Mirror || Andaleeb Wajid

Ages: 10 to 14 years

Five years earlier, a friend’s nasty comment makes Ananya start hating her body. She decides to change into a new person-one who effortlessly fits into all kinds of clothes, who shuns food unless it’s salad, and who can never be called ‘Miss Piggy’-and to cut everything from her ‘old’ life, including her best friend, Raghu, for being the witness to her humiliation.

Ananya is on her way to becoming the Ananya of her dreams, but she’s still a work in progress.

One day, her parents announce that they’re expecting a baby (at their age!). To make matters worse, Raghu reappears in her life …

Andaleeb Wajid’s latest novel for young adults is a touching and funny story about a young girl’s journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

What’s the Big Secret?

Sonali Shenoy

Front cover of What's the Big Secret?
What’s the Big Secret? || Sonali Shenoy, Annushka Hardikar (Illustrator)

Ages: 9+ years

Eleven-year-old Aditya really wants to know about periods.

Ever since Rhea Didi began getting brown paper packages, there’s been something that no one is telling him. Mama turns red, Pa chokes on his coffee and Dadi has steam coming out of her ears! Thank goodness for his friends Naveen and Vinay-whom he can talk to.

But when Vinay brings an odd-looking napkin to school that soaks ink, Aditya is even more confused. Doesn’t his sister use a microtip pen?

All of this is only making little Aditya more determined to find out What is going on!

 

Dark Tales

Venita Coehlo

Front cover of Dark Tales
Dark Tales || Venita Coehlo

Ages: 9+ years

In this collection of eleven very dark and twisted tales, Venita Coelho lays bare the underbelly of contemporary India. Get ready to gasp and cringe in horror as you have the rug pulled out from under you! This is a book you won’t want to read after dark.

 

And That is Why

L. Somi Roy

And That is Why || L. Somi Roy, Sapha Yumnam (Illustrator)

Ages: 8+ years

Dear Reader, do you know
· why the deer does not eat rice?
· why man gets wrinkles and a stoop?
· why the cat buries its poop?
· why a doll is worshipped in a village called Kakching?

Discover twelve magical tales from Manipur, the mountain land in the north-east of India on the border with Myanmar. Passed down by learned scholars, balladeers and grandmothers over hundreds of years, these unknown myths and fables are enriched with beautifully rich paintings that will transport you to Manipur!

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How to convert an idea into a venture; Become A Junior Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are bringing education online, connecting families at the touch of a button and revolutionizing the shopping experience-in short, they’re changing the way we live.

Following the success of Become a Junior Inventor, Vrunda Bansode gives every kid a hands-on crash course in entrepreneurship in her new book, Become a Junior Entrepreneur. Here is a checklist on how you can convert an idea into a venture, from the book.


Think of all the things that you can build on to develop your business as an entrepreneur and note them down. Right now, do not think of constraints. Just think of all that you would like to do. Innovate. Invent. Dream big! Now comes the reality check. Let us think of what you can actually work towards and have a good chance of succeeding at. How does one figure that out? Try to answer these questions for each of the businesses you have listed:

  • Do I myself have the skill of making this product or delivering this service?

(Hint: If you want to start a baking business but do not know how to bake, the answer would be No. If you want to start a web design service and are good at using design softwares yourself, your answer is Yes.)

  • Do I know who might be the customers for my business and can I reach them easily?

(Hint: If you are developing a book-trading app and know that many of your friends will use the service, your answer is Yes. But let’s say you are considering starting a garden clean-up service and don’t have any houses with gardens around you, the answer is No.)

  • Do many people need this product or service?

(Hint: Everybody needs and buys toothbrushes regularly, so the market is large. But not everyone needs dental braces, so the market is much smaller.)

  • Roughly how much money is needed to start this business and will I be able to get it through my savings, allowances and borrowings from family and friends?
  • Can I start working towards this right away – at least within a few months?

For any idea that you end up with more No-s than Yes-es, mark it as a passion to be pursued later. Where your Yes-es are more than the No-s, get going! If you have a Yes for all five questions, that’s a great place to start. But if you had to scrap all of your ideas, don’t be hassled. Just start again or see if you can modify an idea you like even a little until you get all five Yes-es.

Another great way to start is to team up with your friends. You will have more helping hands and great ideas on board, and there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun on the side. Many great start-ups started with a team of founders rather than a single founder.

If it is not just you, but you and a group of friends who want to start a business together, then do the above as a group exercise. The group together will then have the skill of ideation, knowledge, access to prospective customers and the ability to get the money or seed capital—as it is called in the business world—to start your new business.

From sifting through ideas to running a business, Become a Junior Entrepreneur accompanies the reader through every stage of turning a nascent dream into a commercially viable start-up.

 

Devika Rangachari: On research, favourite books and potatoes

It is not for nothing that Devika Rangachari’s new book is called Queen of Earth; we have been conquered completely by this wonderful historical narrative. Rangachari’s research is urgent and important, and has given us a book that is poignant and inspiring in equal parts. We had a chat with the author and it was delightful.

 

Since you are a historian by training, was there something specific that led you to choose Prithvimahadevi as the protagonist for Queen of Earth?

 

Prithvimahadevi and her rule over the Bhaumakara dynasty in the ninth century CE formed part of my post-doctoral research on gender in early medieval Odisha. It was an extension of my doctoral research whose underlying essence was the manner in which women have been made practically invisible in the historical record due to an existing gender bias. The silences pertaining to Prithvimahadevi in the annals of the Bhaumakaras were intriguing given that the records of her family, the Somavamshis, indicate that she held her own over this rival dynasty for a period of time. The content of the inscriptions that she issued also contains clues to her political sagacity and shrewdness.

Most historians, on the other hand, in keeping with the ubiquitous gender bias that governs the writing of history, tend to ignore Prithvimahadevi’s rule or dismiss it in a few grudging sentences, implying that her rule precipitated the downfall of the Bhaumakaras. Her story and the manner in which she has been viewed in later ages formed an immediate and striking parallel with Didda, the protagonist of my earlier work, Queen of Ice, who has been similarly vilified for being a strong and ambitious woman. It was for these reasons that I chose Prithvimahadevi as the protagonist of Queen of Earth. The story of this remarkable woman deserves to be more widely-known.

 

Gender-sensitivity is such an important qualifier for a genre like historical fiction for instance. What drove you to write these books for children?

 

The manner in which history is taught in schools only serves to deepen the gender bias that exists in the writing of past narratives. Textbooks continually underline the apparent irrelevance of women to the historical record by only focusing on what clothes or jewellery they wore and being arbitrary in their selection of names to include in the historical sequence. As a result, the overwhelming impression conveyed is of the men always being at the centre-stage of the polity, society and economy in the past, driving all the action and doing the things that mattered, while the women stayed indoors obsessing over what to wear.

This, as a gender historian like me knows, flies in the face of actual evidence. Original sources, such as texts, inscriptions and coins, reveal the palpable—and often powerful— presence that women had in all stages of history and it is very important to acknowledge this if we are to understand the past at all. Gender-sensitive historical fiction would go a long way in correcting this lopsided historical record—and this is the reason I wrote Queen of Ice and Queen of Earth, featuring strong women characters who left a mark on history but who have been virtually erased from it, legitimate parts of their collective past that children would probably never get to know about.

front cover of Queen of Earth
Queen of Earth || Devika Rangachari
Who were your favourite writers growing up?

 

That is a rather tough question to answer! I read voraciously—anything and everything I could lay my hands on—so I had a very long list of favourite writers when I was growing up. To add to that, my school librarian realised that I was an advanced reader at a very early stage and challenged me with books that were way beyond my age range, so I discovered some wonderful writers through her, too. I loved Enid Blyton, of course, but not her most popular stories, such as her Famous Five series. Instead, I preferred her standalone books, such as The Six Bad Boys, The Family at Red-roofs and The Put-em-rights. I also loved Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s riveting Chalet School series about a school that started in the Austrian Tyrol and then moved to Guernsey and, subsequently, Switzerland. As I grew older, I added P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart and A.J. Cronin to my list of favourites.

 

What are your 3 desert island reads?

 

Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman and The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse. And a million others that I want to mention!

 

Do any of your characters resemble people you know in real life?

 

My early school stories regularly featured characters based on me and my friends. However, as my focus is on historical fiction now, my acquaintance with my characters is only through research. It must be noted, though, that Didda and Prithvimahadevi, the protagonists of my latest books, are very relatable people whose dreams, motives and actions have familiar resonances.

 

We hear you’re a potato fan. What is your favourite way to eat potatoes– fried, mashed, roasted, something completely different?

 

Fried, mashed, roasted, boiled, baked—all forms of the potato are delicious—and eminently welcome. Wondering about potato ice-cream but not sure it’s a good idea!

 

Picture of Devika Rangachari
Devika Rangachari

 

We also hear you’re fond of libraries. Do you have a favourite one, or is there a library you haven’t yet visited and want to?

 

The British Council Library in Delhi and the Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Children’s Reading Room and Library, also in Delhi, are my favourites. The place I most want to visit, though, isn’t a library but a museum and visitor centre dedicated to children’s literature—Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Not only does it curate its own exhibitions of the best children’s books, including original manuscripts and illustrations, but it also hosts workshops, seminars and author and illustrator visits throughout the year. I think I could live there perfectly well!

Do you have a writing routine? Is there a specific time of the day for example when you are most productive or get the most writing done? Or is your work pattern more flexible?

 

I am more a reader than a writer, so I could spend the entire day quite happily between the pages of a book. However, deadlines have an unnerving habit of looming, so that is when I write and then usually in the morning for a couple of hours. I do it fairly fast with very few drafts, so the entire process doesn’t take too long. Mine is a rather flexible work pattern!

 

If you could meet one author, dead or alive, who would you meet and why?

 

I can’t really choose! I would probably keep an entire day for meeting my favourite authors, scheduling different time slots for them and being in a joyous trance all through. There is so much I want to know from them—their motives for writing particular stories, the manner in which they honed their craft, their favourite writers and so on. If I had to choose, though, I would like to meet P.G. Wodehouse for his masterful blending of humour and language, and Hilary Mantel for her exquisite retellings of history.

~ We agree with you 100% Devika. Especially about the potatoes. ~

Easter 2020: The World is a ‘Cave’

How to Survive These Times Through the Niti Teachings

What is it about caves? If you sit down to think, you’ll find that history is specked with stories (across regions) that feature this hollow space made by nature—right from our ancestors, the early man. The cave dwellings, then cave drawings (or perhaps first art galleries), and then we move to more sophisticated stories.

Moses and St. Elijah spent time in a cave. Maimonides, the foremost Judaic polymath wrote his seminal book while exiled in a cave. When Empress Helena visited Palestine in 327 A. D., she stated that the blessed Mother Mary conceived in a cave, gave birth in one, and eventually settled down to raise a family in one, too. In fact, Helena found many Christian mystics living as hermits in hillside caves. Then we have Catherine of Siena who went to a cave. And Prophet Mohammed heard the Koran for the first time in the Cave of Hira.

Moving closer home, we too have many stories about this hollow space. Tibet has the cave where the famous killer-turned-yogi Milarepa meditated. In Kashmir, the ancient Rishis would take abode in the many caves there. The luminous Abhinavagupta’s Bhairava Cave in Beerwah, J&K, is celebrated for transcendence. The Amarnath Cave is, of course, where the supreme secret was revealed. And moving down in southern India, we have the Virupaksha Cave of Ramana Maharishi, which is visited by hundreds of thousands.

So, what is the power of a ‘cave’? Is there a power of the cave? And how does a cave offer solution in a time like this—the pandemic?

Plato’s insightful Allegory of the Cave gives a hint that the outside is a shadow and truth lies elsewhere. In the book, Dawn The Warrior Princess of Kashmir, the final answer is given in the cave of Mount Kailash where Shiva meditates. It is there that Dawn, the sixteen-year-old protagonist who is also the last living woman in the world, lives, to be precise, in a cave called Trisarsha in the year 3000 AD. So, the cave becomes a “pod” where the senses die but it becomes a womb where something magical is born—the power of the last woman standing is manifested here.

On Sunday April 12th the Catholics will celebrate Easter Sunday while the Orthodox Easter falls on April 19th. The connection between Dawn and Easter is deep. Dawn or “Usha” in Sanskrit is the most important Goddess in the Rig Veda. She is the harbinger of the rebirth of life each morn. She is the only Indian Goddess who has spread around the world. Her cognates are Eos in Greek, Aurora in Roman, and Eostre in English, which is the root of the word Easter—the festival of resurrection. Interestingly, Usha is also the name of the sanctuary city where the Sanhedrin or Rabbinical Court fled to in the 2nd century.  It is important to remember that in addition to the celebrated Gayatri Mantra honoring her, she is also the Goddess of Order; the driver away of chaos and darkness. She is dawn, she is hope, she is resurrection.

Dawn is the key-holder to the ultimate life-hack—Niti—which is, simply put, the most powerful technology invented by humanity. Niti means “the wise conduct of life”. The Kashmirians maintained that one is born with only one birth right, namely the freedom to achieve what is one’s life quest. And what is the ‘way of life’ so that one can maximize one’s human potential? The Kashmirians defined life’s end goal in heroic terms as “unbounded fulfillment while alive” whether physical or meta-physical.

Niti’s promise is that it enables one to face any threat, any challenge to reaching one’s goal as one travels through Time and Space. These threats are the daily near-death forces in that they snip off one’s fulfillment in some way or the other culminating in the final death of an unfulfilled life. To become a ‘Niti Warrior’ is one’s birthright: the mark of a swatantra, free human. But what happens to Niti and the Niti Warrior during unprecedented times as the one where we are living now—during the Covid 19 pandemic which is an existential threat for all of humanity? What is the wise conduct here? How does Niti enable one to cause the Death of Death?

In the novel, Dawn states, ‘‘Health is the unrestricted movement of the body, mind and heart. This movement is powered by the bio-plasmic Life Breath.’

The Niti formula is quite explicit. It requires one to do deep learning; act bravely with compassion; and be with close friends. It was first articulated by Pandit Vishnu Sharma in the Panchatantra. The deep learning about the deadly virus is that the virus has understood humans better than even humans understand themselves. It has made our unrestricted movement its vector, used our strongest social instincts of physical bonding against us. The virus,  learnt this through mutation; so we must take that Darwinian learning and mutate ourselves. Mutate to a behavior of no movement and the virus dies. Remember that it is not the strong that survive but the ones who adapt. Change we must at the individual level, at the community level and at the level of humanity to survive.

And if the call comes then we must act bravely and with compassion. Not just the front-line essential services fighters—the doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery sellers, vegetable vendors etc.—but each and every one of us can contribute to this war. In this regard a very special Easter blessing awaits the Corona virus survivors—the ones who had the blessing to live through this. They can be the carrier of the born-again healing touch through contributing their anti-bodies which is verily the gift of Jesus Christ. What is essential, says the Niti way of life, is that we stay connected to our loved ones. That is what keeps our Shakti consciousness alive. If we follow this Niti formula, then Covid 19 will fail to take our life-breath away. We will then experience the next thing that Dawn realizes and states in the novel: ‘The property of our Life Breath is freedom. It is this freedom that leads to creativity.’

If we look at our current condition as an opportunity and just give ourselves the chance inside our cave, then we will discover that we are slowly but inexorably drawn towards creative activities whether it is something as fundamental as cooking or artistic such as  writing or painting or even spiritual expansion. Niti’s manifestation that is creativity is the ‘Life of Life’ which in turn is the cause of the ‘Death of Death’. And in the laboratories around the world it is the scientists who are detonating creativity. They will come up with not just one answer but multiple answers which will finish this scourge forever. That is the promise of Niti. And the Life Force will triumph again. So it has been so it will be.

7 Asian Women who Fearlessly Pursued their Dreams

Through the ages strong, inspirational women and girls have risen in response to uncertainty and injustice. Fearless chronicles the journeys and stories of such amazing and strong women – demonstrating that one girl can change everything.

If you were looking to be inspired today, read about these 7 asian women who fearlessly pursued their dreams:

Shukria Khanum

Shukria Khanum was a female aviator – one of the first of her kind in Pakistan. She obtained a commercial pilot’s license despite women not being allowed to fly commercial planes at the time. She subsequently became a flight instructor  because she never gave up on her dream!.

Majida Rizvi

She was the first ever female judge of a Pakistani High Court and had a reputation for integrity and impartiality. Even after retirement Majida has continued to fight for gender equality and human rights in Pakistan.

Shamim Ara

Shamim began her career as an actress and subsequently became one of Pakistan’s leading ladies. But her true talent was producing and directing. She mastered what was at the time the male dominated area of cinema and she changed how women were portrayed in Pakistani cinema.

Zubeida Mustafa

Zubeida was an influential journalist at a time where there were very few women involved in the profession. She worked for Pakistan’s most influential and circulated daily, Dawn. Her stellar writing quality and persistence led her to a long and successful career in journalism.

Ameena Saiyid Obe

Ameena pursued her love of books by starting her own publishing company, Saiyid Books as well as working as Managing Director of Oxford University Press in Pakistan where she grew the company exponentially. She also cofounded the Karachi Literature Festival and is lauded for promoting the love of reading in Pakistan.

Shahida Malik

Shahida was the first high-ranking two-star female general in the Pakistani Army. Although she faced challenges and opposition from her male colleagues, she did not let it stop her and she went on to serve as the Deputy Commander and Inspector General of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps.

Quratulain Bakhtiari

Quratulain is a community activist, educationist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. She has worked extensively with refugees and her efforts have led to the establishment of thousands of schools.


These are but a few examples of the tenacity and strength displayed by women in overcoming challenges and pursuing their dreams. You can read further about these women and many more in Fearless

7 Essentials of Writing a Letter

The art of letter writing emerged long before phone calls or long text messages. Past generations will know well the anticipation that came with sending and receiving letter – a process that could sometimes take months. Perhaps it is this anticipation that made letters so special – it meant communication from a loved one or old friend that were miles away.

Letters have since been known to change lives, bring together lover or reconnect old friends. With Love explores the art of letter writing and encourages us to take it up ourselves.

So, whether you are writing to a friend, a long lost love or even family, here are 7 things essential for writing a letter, to keep in mind:

A warm greeting

The way you begin your letter is a great segue into what you are writing. Thinking about how to start your letter is the equivalent of saying ‘hello’ in person – make it familiar and personal. You could start with a fond nickname or word that you and the receiver use to call each other. It helps remind the person of the fondness they share with you and makes it feel like you’re right there greeting them!

Write about fond memories

No matter the content and purpose of the letter, context is always important and appreciated. Whether it’s reminding the receiver of where you met, or reminiscing over a fond memory that you share, mention a memory before proceeding to the main body of your letter.

Be concise

Although letters are great for free flowing thought and expression it is important not to drag them out too much or else the point of your letter will come across jumbled and confusing. Think about what you want to say and the best way in which to say it without dragging it out.

Work on your penmanship

It doesn’t matter how a letter looks – embellishments and decoration is at the discretion of the writer. It is however, to have clear and legible handwriting in order for the reader to understand what is written – if not, they will just be lost words!

Remember to mark the date of writing

Although it may not seem important at the time, noting the day, date and month (sometimes even the time!) is a handy element of a letter that helps place when the letter was intended to be read and how much time has passed since it was written!

Ask questions

Letters are a good place to express your thoughts, but they are ultimately about communication. Remember to address your reader and ask questions about them or their thoughts – this shows that you are interested in what they think and also prompts a response to your letter! Whether it is asking for an opinion, advice or simply asking how they are doing, be sure to include a question or two toward the end of your letter.

End on a positive, personal note

Ending your letter is the last thing you can write to your reader until your next one. Try and make it personal to them, ending with a note of love or friendship!


These are some essential tips on writing a letter if you are inspired by the letters in With Love. Give letter writing a go today and send some to old friends or family!

From Vidya Balan to Sachin Tendulkar: Leaping Across Borders and Beliefs

Jai is fourteen and dreams of owning a café in Delhi. Inaya is fifteen and dreams of playing cricket for Pakistan.

In Across the Line, Jai and Inaya’s unlikely worlds collide, and an equally unlikely story unfolds. A story that started with the drawing of a line. And a story that transcends borders, beliefs, and timelines.

We are having a look at some of our favourite people, who have taken this journey penned down by Nayanika Mahtani:

Vidya Balan: “A compelling and uplifting story…”

One of India’s favourite actresses, Vidya Balan has lauded the story for its earnestness and emotive power.

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Sachin Tendulkar: “…what unites us bigger than what divides us.”

We were delighted to hear that our favourite cricketer lauded the story too!

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Asif Farrukhi: “…this book lights a candle of hope and peace.”

We are also extremely happy to see some love coming across the border!

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Asma Said Khan: “A much needed book at a time when hatred of the ‘other’ has become endemic…”

Some more love from even farther beyond!

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Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: “…a tribute to all the unsung heroes who have fought silent battles even after the Partition.”

 


Across the Line is about the Partition and the human impact of borders that still lingers amongst us today. It makes for a must-read story in today’s times with its message of unity and love across borders and beliefs.

 

 

“Happy, Happy You Make Me!” – Meet Alicia’s Dearest George!

There’s a reason they say February is the month of love. Thanks to Alicia Souza, and her (PDA-aversive) husband, George, we have had the corniest and loveliest and mushiest February so far (who could have thought we had it in us?).

Our favourite illustrator is admitting her love in artistic style! Amidst all the cuddles and kisses and the banter of married life, our biggest takeaway from her latest book Dearest George is how much these two lovebirds mean to each other.

Call it a post-valentine’s hangover, but we decided to revisit what George means to Alicia!

He is family. Period.

We have said this before and we will say it again – this is our favourite family portrait!

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Admit it, Alicia – You Love the (Closeted) Romantic!

We know the whole point of penning down this book was to prove to the world that George is, after all, as mushy as all of us.

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Heart of Gold AND a Nice Beard – What’s not to Love?

We totally feel the shared love for food, to be honest.

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The Momo Cuddles.

Isn’t companionship about those special lazy mornings, after all?

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He is Versatile.

George is a complete package, we have to say. #HusbandGoals, much?

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The Perfect Cure for Bad Days.

Nothing compares to the person that can make you smile on bad days – we know how difficult that is!

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He Makes her HAPPY. 

Do we need to say more?


George makes Alicia happy – and us too, because this book wouldn’t exist without him!

February is incomplete without celebrating love, and with this post, we are also thanking George for bringing so much love into Alicia’s life and ours!

Love is Friendship – An Excerpt from ‘Timeless Tales from Marwar’

Indian folklore is a special gem in the crown of India’s history. Storytelling is an age old tradition, and Indian authors from all over the country have contributed heavily to their cultures through the writing and narrating of stories.

Known as the ‘Shakespeare of Rajasthan’, Vijayan Detha is one of India’s most renowned storytellers. In Timeless Tales from Marwar, Vishes Kothari translates his works for the wider enjoyment of Detha’s magical narrative style.

Read an excerpt of one of his stories titled ‘The Leaf and the Pebble’ below:

‘Because I was so completely unsuccessful with love, I

became very talented at writing love stories. Perhaps,

had I been successful, I would not have been so.’

—Bijji

 

Below a tree lay a pebble. All alone. Whom to talk to? Who to speak to? Lying there alone, he got suffocated. As fate would have it, one day, a leaf came there, flying from a distance. All of a sudden, the pebble found a chance to talk to someone. He was delighted. He accorded great honour and respect to the leaf who had come to his home.

One day, the pebble told the leaf, ‘My dear friend, please don’t go anywhere and leave me alone. I cannot even live a second without you now.’

‘Leave a friend like you and go?’ replied the leaf. ‘I’m not that big a fool! But if strong winds blow, how will I stay in one place? I will have to fly with the winds.’

The pebble thought hard and finally came up with a solution. ‘Don’t you worry about this! I won’t let you fly away even if the father of all storms passes through here. As soon as the winds blow, I will sit on you. Even if gusts of winds blow, I won’t let you be blown away with it. But friend,’ continued the pebble, ‘in front of the rain I am powerless . . . If it pours, I’ll melt.’

It was the leaf now who thought of a solution. ‘Don’t you worry about this! As soon as it rains, I will cover you. Even the father of rains won’t be able to melt you.’ And so, both friends thought of schemes to save each other. Many a storm blew, but the pebble did not let the leaf get blown away.

Many a time it rained, but the leaf did not let the stone melt.

But as fate would have it, one day, the storm and the rain came together. All the schemes that the two friends had devised to save each other proved futile. The pebble said, ‘I’ll save you.’ And the leaf said, ‘I’ll save you.’

Finally, the pebble spoke up again. ‘Silly, how can you save me? You’ll be blown away with the first gust of wind! And I’ll melt anyway. Now, let’s not bother with senseless quarrel. Let me sit on you.’

And so, the leaf had to let the pebble sit on it despite its wish. The pebble positioned itself properly on the leaf. The clouds began to thunder. Lightning began to flash. Large drops of rain began to fall. Gusts of wind began to blow. The pebble began to melt. Went on melting. Till he melted completely, he continued to protect his friend. As soon as the pebble melted completely, a gust of wind came and blew the leaf away.

Tears streaming from his eyes, the leaf bid farewell to his friend with a heavy heart.


Vijayan Detha’s stories are full of heart, soul and magic. They explore some of the most popular fables from one of India’s richest cultures. You can read more stories in his inimitable narrative style in Timeless Tales from Marwar.