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Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Book launch of ‘Women Changing India’

Unlike the other events that I have attended, this book launch was unique. Most of the book launches that I have attended are the type where the author, or his chief guest rip opens the book, few passages are read, then there are questions and answers session and finally to buy an autographed copy. Most of the time I pick the book that I don’t really need it but am obliged to buy, I may even add few words of encouragement to the author (if she/he is a friend) and then I am home, dump the book on the shelf of ‘To-be-read-when-I-find-time-or-interest-to-read’.

This was a launch of coffee-table book of photographs and essay by six authors and six photographers. This book attempts to map in words and pictures, some of the changes that are both visible and invisible in the India of today.

The event included exhibition of the blown-up photographs of the content in the book. We (my friend and I) walked around admiring the photographs by Raghu Rai, Martine Franck, Olivia Arthur, Alex Webb, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Patrick Zachmann. There were pictures of women who have made difference in people’s lives, their power radiating behind their teakwood desk. There were glimpse into the lives of women who have been the driving force in uplifting the Indian economy. There were pictures of women in Bollywood world, in corporate world, in banking, some across the villages doing the hard labour and some in taxi-business for women (training and driving school for women), security guards and others covering a broad spectrum of women across various field.

But, like I was saying that this book launch was totally different. There was only one book on display, not for sale, nor any author to autograph it. The weather was quite warm; I was feeling sorry for those foreigners and other corporate people who were dressed in three-piece suit, not really understanding our comfort in cotton clothes. (I was tempted to tell them, when in India , dress like Indians do..ah well) The inauguration was started by lighting of the lamp in the traditional Indian way, followed by speeches by the guests, during which the people in three-piece suits had walked outside for fresh air or to attend to more important phone-calls and had walked inside the Shamiana only after the speeches were done and it was time for yum…snacks and drinks.

This is the first book launch where I have been offered snacks like chicken tikka, fish cutlets, Paneer puffs, veg kababs, cakes, and wide range of drinks and cocktails! It was fun moving around, watching those pictures again and again and munching on those delicious snacks that made their rounds endlessly. When we had our fill, we walked into the auditorium that was playing the looped presentation of those photographs that were displayed outside in the lawns.

It was a lovely evening and I am told that this book will be available in market next month.

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