Have just had my first day in front of a comp after the launches and am taking the opportunity to record details of the launches.
Mumbai, July 8th, Crossword:
The day started off inauspiciously, with heavy rain slanting down like the slate pencils of old times, dimming visibility so that all one could see was a blur. By 10 am, news was out of CR railways halting in its tracks, WR running slow and of roads being flooded. The playground of the school, Ryan International, next to my house, was a sheet of mud-red water and the creek outside my house was flowing furiously, all swollen with red water.
The prognosis was dire. If this continued, no one, not even one sodden soul would show up at the launch, except perhaps the South Mumbaites. I did a quick crosscheck. Thank goodness Mr Hira, my chief guest, lived about five minutes from the venue; Shobhaa De too lived not too far away. Sathya Saran, the third chief guest was a little more problematic as I had no idea where she lived, but her office was in Lower Parel so if she made it to work she would come. Luke Kenny lived in floodable Santa Cruz, so the rains would most probably maroon him. All in all, a cheerless prospect. For a while there, I worried about it - then I surrendered. After all, Mumbai was in dire need of rain. A 30 per cent water cut had just been instituted. One had to be grateful for the rains no matter what the personal outcome. Besides ,if this is what God wanted for me, it is what I wanted for myself. More and more, I am recognising that whatever comes my way is not just perfect justice, but exactly what I need for my growth into perfect health and happiness. Am learning to go with the flow; to accept what is. It was with a relatively tranquil mind that I set off to work therefore, in a sturdy pair of jeans and a shirt, with my party sari tucked into a jute bag.
Fortunately, almost as soon as I started off, the rains began to dwindle and fade and the overcast sky actually began to look a little brighter. Through the day the dry weather held and by the time it was 4.30 pm, I was relatively sure that some of the many friends I had spoken to would be there.
I reached at 6pm to find that some of my friends like Indu and Usha had already arrived. It was heartwarming to see that Indu had already picked up two copies and Usha had picked up five. Others began streaming in and before long, the little plastic chairs arranged in one corner of Crossword began filling up. Luke arrived bright and early at 6 pm, looking sparkling in a white shirt. Shobhaa came next, looking as flawless as ever, then Satya. Meanwhile, we ran out of chairs and guests began standing around the enclosure, looking in. Mr Hira came last and with his arrival, the event began.
I think I spoke well, although I must confess I read out from my speech. I introduced everybody and spoke a little about my book and my journey. Then we had everyone open the book and at that point Shobbhaa said what touched me deeply. She said, "There are few people about who one can say unconditionally that they are wonderful. Suma is one of them." She also spoke about my being openly transparent, very sincere and said that the articles in the book reflected my characteristic earnestness. She also said that she felt a little envious when she read the title, "Travelling light", since almost everyone had more luggage than they could cope with. Mr Hira said that he thought I had made a big mistake in leaving Magna and that he was never happier to be proven wrong. Sathya said the articles made one pause.
Later, we had a discussion which was interesting and stimulating. People asked several questions like do we need a guru, how to serve the world and so on.
What made the Mumbai launch so special is that I felt surrounded by warmth and love both on the dais and outside it. Mr Hira kept making little jokes, including flourishing a revolting pic of mine that appeared in the Society Annual where I had on a fancy pant suit with lacquered hair and make-up. A very unlike-me image. Shobhaa and Sathya were warm and friendly and Luke was a real sweetheart. All my wonderful friends were beaming smiles at me from the audience. The sense of being elevated on a huge geyser of love was palpable. The excitement continued even after the launch, because a serpentine queue of people lined up for my autograph. A dream come true! Sure, most were friends, but so what? They wanted the books. We sold about 75 copies that night and even Amrit from Crossword was very impressed. I went home floating on a cloud. What a beautiful launch! And you know what, I can't help suspecting that the surrender helped.