Ranjini Rao & Ruchira Ramanujam
Ranjini Rao & Ruchira Ramanujam
Bookworms & Jellybellies’ is a really innovative book combining cooking and books. Please take us through the inception of the idea.
We got the idea for this book in an epiphanic moment while discussing the books our children were into at that point of time, and reminiscing the bookish character-themed birthday parties we used to conceptualize and organize for them, over the years.
Please tell us a bit about how you both collaborated.
We have been working together as friends and blogging partners for several years now, and this is our third collaborative book project. We have managed to, by gleaning crucial lessons and insights from all our experiences, find the right rhythm and beat to work with. We tap into our individual strengths and abilities – for example, Ranjini is good with words and traditional cooking methods, Ruchira has refined sensibilities when it comes to food styling and photography and baking – and also share our ideas right from the outset, no matter how silly or serious, small or big, to fine tune at later stages. We also motivate each other, but when one is slacking off, the other takes over, to fill in the gaps. We have realized that the work is bigger than us and our follies and foibles, so once we begin, there’s no looking back until the job is done.
Do you feel that the school curriculum needs a revamp to make kids read fiction more?
Today there are so many kinds of curricula in schools and they all endeavour to cater to literacy goals on various levels. While we do feel that there is scope for more books – fiction or non-fiction – to be included in the average school program, it is also up to parents to ensure children are getting their fair share of reading as part of the everyday routine. With so many platforms from which to get our hands on books today, it shouldn’t be hard to do so. Also, it is crucial for diversity to be a key factor in the literature that children are exposed to, in terms of multiculturalism and books on current and relevant topics, to encourage acceptance – not tolerance – as a virtue.
Both of you have collaborated before. Which writing collaboration has been most satisfying?
Working on Bookworms & Jellybellies has definitely been the most enjoyable experience, because it involved all our favourites – books, food and children!
Does being best friends help in writing?
It does. Nothing like having a happy, creative secret to share between best friends! Also, we have the advantage of one person’s seed of an idea becoming the foundation for the other to water and nurture into a plant, and if things get out of hand a little, the former comes right back in to trim and prune. It is fun to sound each other off on ideas and a general direction for them to flow in, while the words stand in for all of that and more.
How has food blogging evolved in India?
We believe that food blogging has grown immensely, opening up avenues in many other realms for bloggers, like food styling, photography, writing, videography, books, recipe development and the likes. There are pitfalls too, like in any other industry, but it’s great to see so many new windows of opportunity open up, in this creative field.
Do publishers take children’s literature more seriously now?
It does appear so, with so many Children’s books coming into the market, with quality writing. We think it has more to do with demand, and supply is merely obliging.
About the Interviewees: Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam are two friends who have been working together on their food and travel blog, Tadka Pasta, and all the other interesting projects it has led to, like books (Mango Masala, Around The World With The Tadka Girls, Bookworms & Jellybellies) and workshops. They are now settled in Bangalore, after having lived for several years in the US.