Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Savita Rao

Sandhya Rao remembers Savita. 

When we sent an advance copy of Postcards from Ura to author, Savita Rao, in Bengaluru in January, she responded right away:

postcards from ura arrived on sat evening.
a very nice sankranti surprise. (i didn't think it would be that quick)
cool! i'm  on the website too, what do you know?!
thanks much. i do hope i see you soon.

Her manuscript about a visit to Ura in Bhutan landed in Tulika way back in 2008, along with photographs. All of us on the editorial team were thrilled, it was just the sort of book we wanted to do, in just the way the author had suggested. And it fitted the bill for our Where I Live Series, after Suresh and the Sea, Hina in the Old City, and Aiyappan and the Magic Horse. But picture books and bilingual picture books are easier to do, so it took a while to schedule Postcards. Finally, its time came and I wrote to Savita:

I hope you will be happy to hear that at last we are ready to take
up work on your book (Do I hear the screams of joy???!!!)
….Yes… Am just going to start looking at it so you can expect to
hear from me very soon with questions and so on.

Back came the reply:

this was seriously spooky :) just the evening before i got this mail i was pacing on my terrace and composing a mail to you. that would say "i can't wait, i'll return the money, blah blah"
thank you! it's perfect timing. look fwd to hearing from you.

I wrote back:
What can I say????!!!!

To which Savita responded:
all's well that ends well.

From that point on, work on the book progressed amazingly quickly. Questions raised would be resolved with due discussion and no trouble. When pushed for more pictures, Savita got friends to pitch in: Natasha with her photograph of Bangalore for the cover, young Kavya and Kaushik with pictures of Bhutanese children wear the gho and kira. A young intern from Pune worked on the cover design and map. Savita kept pace with all the last-minute doubts and queries with cheer and equanimity. If there was a question about identifying a particular bird, she checked up with her sources and got back. If she was not entirely happy with the sharpness of a particular photograph, she sent several alternatives to choose from. At every stage, she was on the ball and it was an invigorating experience, working with her. She did not ever speak about her health.

We were planning an event around the book in Bangalore, perhaps in April, and she had promised to be well by then. She had warned that she couldn’t sing or dance but that she’d do her bit. Savita passed away in Bengaluru on March 27 before we could meet. Savita’s friend, Natasha, whom I spoke with on the phone, said Savita was very happy with Postcards. You feel that joy in the book. As she wrote in one email:

Yeah, Bhutan is ranked the happiest place.
I certainly felt like it…

- Sandhya Rao

1 comment:

  1. Great to know that she will live on .... in her book... may she bring joy to many... and peace fill the hearts that will miss her!


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