It has now been a year and a half since the release of my book, "Just look up...to see the magic in the trees around you". I was afraid and reluctant to let it go out into the world, just as I was afraid for my children when I taught them to cross the road or when my older daughter left home to join college in another city! Several copies of the book have now left me and have travelled, within Hyderabad, and to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mysore, Pune, Warangal, and a few other places in India and some places in the US. People in Bangalore have been very enthusiastic about this little book, smarting as they are, from the cutting down of several trees in their once-green city.
I too have travelled a little, with the book. I was at Bookaroo, the children's book fest in Delhi in 2011 to do a session with children. It was immensely enjoyable. I also went to Silver Oaks school in Bachupally (on the outskirts of Hyderabad) for a "Meet the author" program, where about 50 children shot questions at me about various aspects of writing a book. It was fun, and I admire these bright children for thinking of so many questions! Silver Oaks School also wants me to help kick-start a gardening and nature awareness class in their school. This is exactly what I was hoping would happen. There have also been requests for tree walks around the city, but none of the walks actually happened.
Initially, since I did the distribution myself, I received emails from people asking for the book, and it felt great to know who was buying my book. I also had a chance to interact with my buyers, which was a very interesting experience. I also made some friends in the process, because the people interested in buying this book are nature lovers, and that immediately binds us together.
Since I not only wrote this book, but also published it myself, I find myself consistently working for its welfare. The happiness it is giving me is exactly like the happiness I feel when I see my children grow and find their way in the world.
I have understood that a book is alive, a book goes places, a book affects people who read it. I think a book also just happens...one does not plan it. And I know from my experience with my first book, "Autorickshaw blues and other colours", which was published by Katha in 2004, that a book takes a long time to travel and get noticed.
I am hopeful and enthusiastic about "Just look up...". As I said during its release, I would like this book to be like the Olympic torch…and pass on the spirit of friendship with nature from one generation to the other. More realistically, I would like it to make people take more walks in parks, listen to the song of the koel, and simply acknowledge the presence of the several fascinating varieties of trees around us. On an ambitious note is the hope that once people become sensitive to trees and nature, when an axe hits a roadside tree, there will be many voices that will shout, “Stop…don’t cut down this tree”.