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Dear Popples was launched this week end. A series of events – three actually – had been carefully planned: two in malls and one in a hospital! I must confess that the past few days had been filled with excitement and apprehension. Dear Popples is the first book I have written and hence this was to be my first launch. I had been told that there was to be a book reading and signing and a quiz where people would play for a miracle. At the end of the day Basant and Rekha’s family would be saved. Over 100 people I was told, had entered the contest! This was great news. The event promised to be a whopping success. Innumerable calls were made, and mails were sent to ensure that may would attend.

Saturday morning dawned. I must admit the night had been short. A palpable sense of excitement permeated the house as we all got ready. There were many of us, almost the same gang that takes the monthly ride to Utpal’s PTM except that this time Utpal, was with us. Rekha and Basant had come early. Abhigyan, my wonderful publisher who I had finally met the previous day arrived and it was time to leave. The event was in a brand new mall in Gurgaon a long drive away. We reached the mall. It was the very one where we had come to a year back for a PTM. Ominous!

We reached the right gate and could see the sparkling book store an escalator ride away on the first floor. But Rekha being blind and having never in her life seen or heard about moving staircases, we set off in search of a lift or staircase. We found a lift but though we reached the said foor, we found to our utter dismay that there was no access to the store. There was no staircase either. How did one get Rekha to the store. Finally with much effort we managed to convince the operator to stop the escalator. Rekha was made to climb on it and then the machine was restarted. It was an ordeal and I cannot even begin to think what must have gone in the poor woman’s mind. At last every one reached the store.

The place had been beautifully laid out with chairs, and armchairs, tables ans flowers, large display of the books to be launched, larger than life sized posters, a screen, mikes et al. What was missing was people though the said time had past. Once again I was reminded of Kafka. Barring us there was no one. One could almost sense moods changing. Anger in some, bewilderment in others. A sense of amused deja vu filled me. Oh darling hey hai dilli was what I felt like screaming. People do not come out of their comfort zones at 11 am on a Saturday morning, people fill forms for quizzes ans events and hen simply do not turn up, people promise to be there and then forget to come or forget to inform that will not. Anyway the chairs lay empty for a long time. Slowly friends who had been solicited, entreated and bullied started trickling in and some chairs got filled. Even Mrinal and Anil, whose flight from Mumbai had been terribly delayed made it on time.

But the show must go on and it did. The show had to go on and it did. Rekha and Basant’s miracle had to happen and it did. There was a book reading, a book signing and a quiz even though many chairs were empty and contestants few. What was important was that all present had the ability to see with their heart and hence as the fox told the little Prince only the essential was visible.

You can share some pictures of the event here:

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