Author Visit at Ekya School, JP Nagar

Ms. Padma Venkatraman recently visited Ekya School, JP Nagar and had the audience engrossed in her stories. Students were captivated by her books and her recollection of her journey in life. Here is an interesting account of the session by Mahashree G Das, Grade 8, Ekya School JP Nagar

A Rainbow to Reality 

As students or children, we live a shielded and privileged world. We are shielded from the harsh realities of the world and have the privilege of preparing ourselves by and by and not just jump into it. You might be thinking “Why out of the blue, is this article so serious? I was reading this to entertain myself!”. Then my friend you are not alone.

On the 5th of July, at exactly 8:20 am we had the same question popping up when our ‘Meet the Author’ session was turned into a rainbow to reality, through some mere stories. If you are thinking who is this wise author who made us realize that we are seriously fortunate to have what we have and we are the only ones who can make a change in this world, it was Ms. Padma Venkatraman, an oceanology expert, an eco-engineer and an author.

The U.S. settled author started off with a question that really made us ponder: Should we really drink water from the use and throw plastic bottles? There were various answers which she welcomed encouragingly. Then she told us her journey through life till now, about how she was in charge of a whole vessel being the only woman and Asian on it. A few people who were envious of her tried to sabotage her.

There was a malfunction in the ship and they pinned the whole blame on her but she thrived through the whole thing only made her stronger.

As a child, she was never an admirer of literature or biology but simply adored mathematics.

Her family was pretty affluent and she had a luxurious life until her father threw her and her mother out of the house one night for an unknown reason.

She and her mother had to struggle. Now all her luxuries were no more. Her big house turned into a small dingy apartment. Even though her mother had to work day and night to keep a roof over their heads, she also devoted herself to help the needy. She used to teach the gypsies. Ms. Padma also made a few friends who told her their tragic tales.

As a researcher, she went on to meet many tribes and on tall adventures which also included wrestling live crocodiles, which made her realize that if she can do this, she can practically do anything.

The plot of her book “The Bridge home” goes something like this:

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters, Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter- and friendship- on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making life scavenging in the city’s trash heaps in the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now bosses of themselves and don’t need to depend on untrustworthy adults. But illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or keep holding on to their fragile hard-fought freedom.

 

Through the session, she told us about her and her mother’s struggle to get an education, her love for books, how she got to study in a school in England which was much like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and also got the chance of becoming the Albus Dumbledore there.

After a short Q&A session, we bid her goodbye hoping to see her again in the near future.

ABOUT PADMA VENKATRAMAN

Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, the setting of her latest novel The Bridge Home. She worked as chief scientist on oceanographic ships, explored rainforests, directed a school, and lived in five countries before becoming a full-time writer. The Bridge Home has been described by the New York Times as “Gorgeous storytelling”. It is a 2019 Global Read Aloud book, a Washington Post KidPost Summer Book Club selection, and a Today Show Summer Read. Some of her previous novels include A Time to Dance, Island’s End and Climbing the Stairs.

Ms. Venkatraman enjoys teaching, mentoring, and participating in literary festivals. She was recently interviewed on a national PBS program, and her work has been featured previously on national and international TV and radio, and in a documentary.

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