I was a little worried that Eureka was abducting me for some obscure reason as they took me on this beautiful solitary drive through misty mustard fields with the shadowy Aravali ranges in the background, with no traces of human life for miles on end.
However, my thoughts moved from abduction to magic after an hour and a half when I found myself in front of a castle of sorts which had suddenly materialised at the end of a dirt road that had meandered for 30 minutes in a manner that had been somewhat annoying. The castle turned out to be Pathways World School and I came out of the maze that was my mind to remember that what I had set out for was to conduct a Writing Workshop for 53 students of Class 3.
The Writing Workshop was a pleasure as such events usually turn out to be. The children were bright and responsive and had done their homework well – they knew about genre writing, they knew who I was and what I wrote. We discussed literature, their favourite books and authors. We discussed the elements that went into each genre and how they sometimes stubbornly overlapped and made categorisation difficult.
Since we decided that my book falls into the fantasy genre (it surprises me that it should – I do think it’s quite a straightforward, realistic narrative but there is magic in the book apparently) we discussed fantasy literature at length and science fiction too, as one boy said he liked only science fiction and it appeared he might physically harm me if I did not discuss his favourite genre for a bit. Which was not unreasonable and turned out to be fun in any case.
The discussion of fantasy was followed by a group writing exercise for which the kids formed eight groups of six or seven kids each to create a fantasy land that could feature in a book that they might write. Many lands emerged in the course of the workshop – the constructor land, two candy lands, two robot lands and so on and so forth. There were chocolate swimming pools, electric clouds, zombies and monsters and lands in which men and boys were prohibited entry. We discussed the various fantasy lands and how they worked till we ran out of time and had to hurry and wind up.
And then I signed many copies of The Stupendous Timetelling Super Dog and felt like Salman Khan with his shirt on – I always feel like a bit of a star when I am asked for my autograph. I went on a quick tour of the school too and particularly loved the library and art rooms. It was getting late though and it was time to embark on the return journey with the prospect of enjoying the Haryana countryside without the fear of kidnapping this time.