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Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MISS!!!

Discussion in 'Book Lovers' started by malspie, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MISS!!!

    Dear Friends,

    Let me first thank my dear Malathy for entrusting me with this responsibility.

    I had this golden opportunity to interview the legend Ms Soumya Arvind Sitaraman the author of the newly released book, “Follow the Hindu Moon” an Encyclopedia Britannica of Hindu festivals of <st1:place>South India</st1:place>, published by Random House India. To some of us who do not know much of the author let me brief you about her. Words are short to describe this multi-faceted personality. She was born and brought up in <st1:place><st1:city>Chennai</st1:city>, <st1:country-region>India</st1:country-region></st1:place> who later shifted to <st1:city><st1:place>San Francisco</st1:place></st1:city> – Bay Area in the 1990’s. She earned a degree in Environmental Science from San Fransico Sate University and returned to <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region> in the year 2000. She is the illustrator of “Chachaji’s Cup” Book–1 which was one of the Top 10 Children’s books of 2004. This book was published by Children’s Book Press, <st1:city><st1:place>San Francisco</st1:place></st1:city> – Indo –American Theme. The book marched ahead to grab the “Patterson Prize” and Ms Soumya Sitaraman was holding the “Skipping Stones” Award and “Papertigers Illustrator’s” Award. She was awarded for her painting “Mother Earth” from Mr Preston Metcalf, Executive Director, San Jose Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the 1<sup>st</sup> Asian Woman artist to create an <st1:place><st1:placename>Internet</st1:placename> <st1:placename>Art</st1:placename> <st1:placename>Gallery</st1:placename></st1:place>. Her art work has been exhibited in all over <st1:country-region><st1:place>United States</st1:place></st1:country-region> including <st1:place><st1:city>New York</st1:city>, <st1:state>California</st1:state></st1:place> and <st1:state><st1:place>New Mexico</st1:place></st1:state> and Chennai in <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>. It has taken nearly seven long years for her to complete the book, “Festival of Hindu Moon”. She is also currently serving at the Smriti Nandan Cultural Centre, <st1:place><st1:city>Bangalore</st1:city>, <st1:country-region>India</st1:country-region></st1:place>. She lives in <st1:city><st1:place>Bangalore</st1:place></st1:city> with her husband and 12 year old Son. Let’s have a glimpse of the chat I had with her:

    Malspie: Let me congratulate you for your book “Follow the Hindu Moon”. From an illustrator to an author how was the journey so far?
    Author: Thank you very much. I have always been contributing articles for magazines, so the field of writing was never new to me. Yes, the journey was tough and challenging. There was much leg work involved in sourcing articles. There has been profound research work too. I learnt the segments of labour, to mention a few like the research work involved, the art work, collection of photographs, meeting interesting people who were more than eager to contribute, editing, publishing which gets neatly fabricated to shape up a book.

    Malspie: Are you born and brought up in <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>?
    Author: Yes, I am born and brought up in Chennai.

    Malspie: Is the thought “tradition and culture is fast diminishing” made you pen this book?
    Author: No, I feel that people are more eager to be traditional and are willing to strictly follow the culture. The one step hesitation is only because everyone wants to be perfect in what they do. People are worried that they should not make a mistake in the “vidhis” involved in each puja. They want to be totally perfect and have through knowledge of the complete procedure of the Puja behind each festival. I was always interested in celebrating festivals but did not know enough. I was very particular to do the right thing and without any mistake. The fear and apprehensions that I had, made me ponder on how many more out there would be like me, longing to do but do not know how to do? Indians born and brought up in US celebrate festivals with more fervor. The best way to guide people was to write a book on the festivals. As the Hindu festivals follow the Moon, the Panchang (Almanac), I thought it would be best to do a research work on this topic and write on it. It was definitely not an easy task.

    Malspie: How is your book going to help the readers? Is it aimed for an amateur or for every one in general? Please comment.
    Author: My book is for the amateur who does not know anything about a festival but is very keen to celebrate and also for others who do not have complete knowledge of the festival. We make mistakes in each festival and later recollect, “Oh, this should not have been done that way”. The potential within ourselves to connect to our inner soul always makes us take a better step forward.
    This book is a book which contains many books within itself. You buy a small pocket book of Rangolis, then you have a book on recipes, then you go around hunting for book on “Sankalpas” and yet are always lacking information on a particular segment. Now, “Follow the Full Moon” consists of Hindu Cosmology, Panchang, Sankalpa, 60 recipes of Nivedya (Prasad) – which prasad to make for a particular festival, Rangoli (Kolam) section, Puja Vidhi. It has deep information on each part of the festival. The amateurs can take a cue from bathing to performing the puja.

    Malspie: That’s simply amazing. Festivals like Deepavali, Navaratri, Krishna Jayanthi is known to all which includes the tradition and cultural activities too. There are so many other festivals like, “Garuda Panchami”, “Naga Chaturthi”, “Karteekai Deepam”, “Annamalai Deepam”, to name a few are familiar but still unknown. How did you manage to write on these festivals?
    Author: Oh!! I had to go to the elders around and sit with them to take information, I had to meet the scholars and gather information, I read lot of Sanskrit texts, asked help from people to translate few books, researched on books, went to people’s home and asked them about the culture involved in celebrating the festival. Since the book is based on the festivals of whole of <st1:place>South India</st1:place>, I had difficulty in understanding the culture of festivals from other States. In Karnataka, just for example, a family helped me by actually demonstrating the festival vidhi to me. It was so touching. They performed it in front of me (though the festival was not due) and I was keenly observing and learning. The leg work involved is beyond explanation. There are so many minds confused with the celebration of “Annamalai Deepam” which is for Lord Shiva and “Karteekai Deepam” which is for his Son – Lord Muruga. Such confusions need to be cleared and “Follow the Full Moon” helps people to understand the nuances behind each festival.

    Malspie: I observe that you have covered all the parameters of celebrating a festival including the prasads (Naivedya) and their recipes. That was an unique thought as without “Prasad” (Naivedya), “Puja” is incomplete.
    Author: Thank you very much.

    Malspie: Your book consists of festivals of the South. Why not all over <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>?
    Author: Just by covering only South Indian festivals, the book has 900 leaves. Imagine, if had covered the other regions too, people may have to lug it on a truck. (We both burst out in laughter). I have already started working on the festivals of <st1:place>North India</st1:place>. I welcome all viewers who are interested in contributing about the festivals in their region along with the tradition to mail it to me on ID contribute@hindumoon.com.

    Malspie: Your book has lovely pictures of the “Puja Vidhi” and many other informative pictures which is a great task by itself from Usha Kris. These illustrative pictures are very impressive; would you like to throw more light on it?
    Author: Yes, Ms Usha Krishnaswami, who is known as Usha Kris has done a splendid job.
    (Usha Kris is born and brought up in <st1:city><st1:place>Delhi</st1:place></st1:city> and is a full time writer).

    Malspie: Was it easy to get a Publisher after you finished your gigantic task?
    Author: Definitely, it was not easy and I was not ready to compromise as it is a full colour book with very good quality paper, with 1000 photographs. The book is a “Living Tradition” a “Heritage Piece”. Finally, I made a full coloured dummy of the book on digital press and showed them. It was only then they agreed to go ahead with the publishing. But the job that they have done is quite remarkable. The photos are in place, its finally taken a shape exactly the way I wanted. It was like delivering the child.. (We both laugh loudly).

    Malspie: You just snatched the words from my mouth. (She bursts in to laughter). You are the founder of “Shakti” the first Coalition of Contemporary Art of Indian origin, Member of Planning Committee, Member of Programming Committee, a Panel Member, A Co-Editor, a Board Member, an Art Director, Gallery Director, a Lecturer, an Illustrator, an Award(s) winner – “Skipping Stones” Award; “Papertigers Award” and now finally an author!!!! Please accept my Belated Congratulations. Sorry, for getting personal, how do you manage home and work?
    Author: My priority is my home. I have no baby sitters and like to drive my son to school twice a day even if the journey is 40 minutes one way. My husband is very co-operative, his hands are full of work and we both are always busy with our own work which we always try to wind up and spend some quality time with each other. I love my job as it does not require much sacrifice of home activities. I get time or rather I can keep some time for my family.

    Malspie: Your book is priced at Rs.3500/- which is expensive from an Indian Point of View. For collective buying would be there be any discount? I am representing a website and this question is from the reader’s point of view?
    Author: Discounts are given for bulk buying not only in <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region> but also across the globe. Publishers are willing to give discounts for bulk buying. Atmaram Book Bureau of Bangalore is offering 10% discount on purchase of a book. There would be many book stalls giving discounts.

    Malspie: I read that your maternal grandmother “Kumuda” was the first woman pilots. Dynamism is in the genes of the family, I am sure. Please Comment.
    Author: I guess so. (She again laughs).

    We exchanged few pleasantries and parted with joy. I would like to mention, she had no airs about herself. I found her a very down to earth person who was all willing to co-operate with me. There were strange problems with the “Mobile Network”, after every sentence the line would get disconnected. She was patient and never upset. Finally, she called up from her land line so that we can chat up at ease.

    The book is definitely worth to be possessed as it covers the entire South Indian Festivals. Do you all know friends, that in Chennai this book (in 2 volumes) was gifted in “Sheer” by the parents of the bride (the author brought this to my notice). Isn’t it worth the collection?

    I have attached the picture of the author and few pictures from the book. These pictures are downloaded with the permission of the author Ms Soumya Arvind Sitaraman. All copyright of the pictures are with Ms Usha Kris who is the photographer and believe me, she has done a remarkable job. Seeing is believing is what people say. So go ahead and click on them, you will surely come back to me with a positive “Post” and run to the nearest book stall.

    http://www.indusladies.com/forums/indian-book-lovers/16869-golden-opportunity-il-members-grab.html

    Please hit on the above link.

    Bye Friends,

    Mals
     

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2007
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  2. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Thanks Mals, for this wonderful interview and also for introducing ourselves to this wonderful book which is a treasure by itself.

    sriniketan
     
  3. Saraswathipv

    Saraswathipv IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Hi Mals..

    Thanx for posting the interview....:hatsoff, and introducing us to a multifaceted personality.

    bye.
     
  4. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Great Job Mals,

    Wonderful to read about this author andalso the new book. Am planning to buy this one and also the NI festivals one when it comes out!

    V
     
  5. madhu11

    madhu11 Bronze IL'ite

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Hi Mals,

    Thanks for introducing the author and the book. Its really interesting.
     
  6. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Dear Mals,
    Thanks for writing about Soumya and her book.
    I feel like rushing and buying the book! How do we avail of the discount in Chennai? As IL members, are we entitled to any special privilege? Please write.
    Love,
    Chits.
     
  7. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Sri,

    Thanks for stepping in.
    The task was challenging and interesting.
    I enjoyed speaking the legend and sharing it with you all here.
     
  8. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Hi Saraswathi,

    You have always stepped in to my posts. I am feeling good to know that you enjoyed reading about the book and the author. Thanks for the encouragement.
     
  9. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Hi Vandana,

    I am glad to know that you were impressed with my thread on the author. Thanks buddy.

    If more people are interested to buy the book from your region, please let me know, we can talk to the publishers.
     
  10. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Surprise!! Interview with a famous author on her newly published book. DO NOT MIS

    Dear Malspie,

    That is a great news! Nice to know about this author and her book. You sure are a live wire and may God bless you with more Energy and Happiness:)

    L, Kamla
     

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