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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Upside-Down! No, nothing's wrong... Its just a book!

First, apologies to Tulika for the delay in putting up this review…. Things have been so hectic of late, I have tons of stuff to write about, and no idea when to!

Second, this is supposed to be a review of ‘Upside Down’ from Tulika books, but is more about the experiences we had with this book, which I thought would be more appropriate in this case…. Hope all of you like it…..

When Tulika Books announced their blogathon, I was surprised and pleased to see that the topic was one that had been haunting me for a while – the feeling that I should teach my son our mother-tongue, the issue compounded by the fact that I had to first learn it myself! Well, I sat down and poured out all my thoughts on my blog, and there it was, my contribution to the blogathon, and I thought that ended matters. It was therefore a big surprise when Tulika announced that all contributors would receive books soon! I happily sent in my address and waited for the post to bring me the first bi-lingual book Samhith would own! The fact that it would be a prize for a blog just made things better!

The book turned up in a while, and we were just too thrilled for words! Samhith and I eagerly tore out the package to see what it brought us. Here it is –

This is the cover of the English-Malayalam version, courtesy Tulika Books. Sorry for not using my own pic, the photo didn't come out too well....
Upside-Down      %Lqa puLqa

Samhith read through the English parts of the story in a minute, turning the book over and over to see the pictures, which were, as expected, upside down! The story shows us things upside down, only to explain at the end that we are looking at the world through the eyes of a bat! An interesting way to teach about viewpoints, I think.

Samhith wondered why the pictures were all wrong, and we spoke about the bat and how it would see things, and he seemed convinced…..I am now waiting for him to bring up the topic on his own, for that is how he likes to discuss things – keep things to himself for a while and then come out for a long discussion with me…..I am sure the topic will come up when we next see a bat!

I then showed him the story in Hindi below the English words, and considering that he now knows the Hindi alphabet, asked him to read. At first, he refused, saying that he didn’t know the words, but I promised I would help, and we began. He had a little trouble for the first few words, but then he picked up and started reading faster, asking me for meanings and clarifications, and we soon finished the book – both of us thrilled that he had read his first Hindi story!

At the end of the last academic year, his Hindi teacher had a talk with me saying that his Hindi vocabulary was really bad. (Very understandable, considering the kind of Hindi we speak here in Bombay – a mixture of all languages, none of them in their right form, added to the Bambaiyya version of the language). Anyway, I assured his teacher that I would take care of the problem by the time school reopened, and here was my first accomplishment – actually making him read Hindi, and learning many new words!!

Anyway, this book seems to have opened the floodgates to bilingual books into our home…..  while I had a hard time getting Tulika and other Indian books till recently, I am now overwhelmed by them, thanks to Usha who has gifted a bunch of them to Samhith on his birthday!!! And I also happened to stumble upon a few Chitra Picture Books in a local bookstore, and bought all I could find!

Of course, Samhith is a bit wary of reading all the Hindi parts. He has already read the English parts and loves them… he has been re-reading every single one of them, making me so, so happy! All I now need to do is read out the longer Hindi sections to him, and wait for the right opportunity to make him read the simpler sections….. I am really looking forward to it!

Thanks so much, Tulika, for opening us to the world of Bilingual books!


  1. A Bilingual book seems to be a very very good idea. Does he re-reads the books?

  2. I am sure Smahith will learn Hindi and the kind of envt. he is exposed to he would become a voracious reader.

  3. I liked what u have to say abt this particular book.. i also wish we could exchange books, i would love to know what Samhith thinks abt Snow King's Daughter..

  4. @Mridula: yes,it is a wonderful idea... pity we didnt have any when we were growing up!

    and yes, he does re-read books, those he loves, that is :)and when he is in the mood!

    @Chitra: thanks.... i hope so too!

    @Mumbai Paused: yes, it is!!

    @AJCL: i am planning to get that when i go to the only store here which stocks Tulika books... unfortunately the big stores near my place dont, which is why i have so few of them!

  5. lol, he claimed he's already all of them! I really liked the idea of these books. My nieces are a lil too old for them or I would've bought some for them too.


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