Did I tell you about what happened at the launch of The Travelling Belly?

The Travelling Belly is launched, 6th February 2017, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
L to r: Me, Kurush Dalal, Pervin Bilimoria (MIL), Rekha Karmakar (mom)
Kunal Vijayakar, Vikram Doctor

The simplest way to get hold of The Travelling Belly is online and here's the Amazon link. Please do order it if you haven't yet and I do hope you like it

Missing in action from the blog

I have often referred to the blog as my diary. I said that as I would share everything that was happening in my life here. With food as an anchor of course. 

The truth is that I don't post as often as I did once. There are multiple reasons for it. Sometimes my back acts up and sitting by the laptop is a problem. At times I have other writing assignments and I feel too mentally fatigued to blog too. Sometimes I sit down to write and the internet refuses to work. Sometimes uploading pics become too daunting. Blogging takes a fair bit of time you see.

If you follow me on Instagram then you would see that I post more frequently there. Shorter and more focused posts and typing on the phone makes it more easy. Plus the lure of seeing more comments and increasing numbers pull me there.The result is that I feel less pressure to blog about it once an event is up on Instagram and sometimes forget to do blog about it later..

But I should have told you about the launch of my book!!!!!

Can you imagine that I have not shared one of the biggest and most significant incidents in my life with you yet?

I am referring to the fact that my book, The Travelling Belly, was launched and that too way back on 6th February 2017 at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival!!!!

The curious case of book launches

The book came out in end December and then January went into announcements, stocking, sharing and sending out review copies.  

I then realised that a physical 'launch' is not seen as that mandatory by the trade. That a book is not like a movie where the premier show has to happen first and then the actual screenings. From a marketing point of view, publishers tend to focus on online and word of mouth as a more effective way of spreading word about a book it seems compared to the reach of an actual event. Which is why a 'launch' is not always focused on that much. Which is also why the book is so hard to find in shops as distribution focuses on online channels.

Those not familiar with this, including me till recently,  expect a launch when a book is published. Friends and family and well-wishers were asking me about the launch and I smiled back in response with no clear answer. 

I was not stressed about this though as life has taught me that things fall into place when they are supposed to. 

So I went about my work, including promoting the book, without thinking too much about when the launch would happen.

Living a dream at the The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2017

Panoramic view of the launch at the KGAF 2017

Then things fell into place. I got what was the perfect platform for the launch when Nicole Mody and Roxanne Bamboat, who were curating food events at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, offered me a slot to do the launch there. 

As festivals in Mumbai go, it doesn't get much more prestigious than this. I was keen to do the launch in Mumbai which is my home town now. Plus the radius around Kala Ghoda - Fort, Colaba and Nariman Point is where I first fell in love with Mumbai so I gratefully accepted the opportunity to launch my book here.

Making it even more special was the fact that the date allotted to me was my brother's birthday and the next day was mine.

The Masters of The Food Universe

The next issue was that of the panel to launch the book. I had a few people in Mumbai in mind. People whose food stories I love, to whose approach to food I connect with and whose passion about food I look up to. 

I reached out to them with a hope and a prayer and each of them agreed (!) no questions asked. I didn't need a plan B!

With the "Masters of the Food Universe" at the launch
L to R: Kurush Dalal, me, Kunal Vijayakar and Vikram Doctor

The folks I had the honour of being part of the panel included Vikram Doctor, whose informative and yet engaging articles on food  in the Economic Times I have loved reading for years. He now does an excellent podcast too called the Real Food Podcast. 

There was Kunal Vijayakar, who was one of the first celebrities in the world of food that I got to know when I did a cameo in an episode of his show, The Foodie. Over the years he has become a friend, mentor and well wisher and he makes it hard for me to remember I am with a celeb with him. His love for Food and the city of Mumbai is pure and endearing. 

I also had a dear friend, whom I first new thanks to my blog, joining us. A professor whom everyone reaches out to for information on food history these days, Dr Kurush Dalal

These three gentleman, whom I call the Masters of The Food Universe, took part in an engaging panel discussion on the food ethos of Mumbai where Kunal raised a very pertinent point, "what is the food of Mumbai?", among other topics, at the book launch.

Smothered by the love of friends and family 

What made the launch even more perfect was that my our near and dear ones could make it for it. K's mom, masi and mama were there. And from Delhi, my mother, brother, sister in law and niece flew in. As was Harshad Rajadhyaksha who designed the book cover and is almost family too.

To make the occasional the complete, some dear friends made it to the launch despite it being on a Monday evening and at 6 pm and in South Mumbai. I was really touched by their love. 

The Travelling Belly is unveiled
Will the two mummies come up please?

The audience couldn't get enough of the three of them but they had a job to do, so we ended the session and they very kindly launched the book. We had a little surprise planned and requested the two mummies to come up on stage to jointly launch and bless the book and then everyone from the family came up too.

Will the mumies come up please?

The mummies - mom in law in the middle and my mom in a sari
Kurush is a sort of a cuddly mommy bear too though his wife
Rhea might take umbrage - launch the book

As I looked around me that evening, I realised that the story of The Travelling Belly is truly one filled with love and affection. The book has helped me change my life and helped my chase my dreams and this would never have been possible without the support of my wife, family, friends, my faith and well wishers in the industry.

Selfie from the stage

The launch of The Travelling Belly was a truly blessed one. I would like to thank the organisers of KGAF, the panelists, friends and family who came to make this launch so memorable and happy and my publishers Hachette India. 

Thank you everyone and big hugs.

I would like to thanks all of those who come to the launch including some friends whom I spotted, and I will miss out some name I am afraid, including Zinobia Schroff, Bimba Nayak, Manoj and Mohit and Arpana from BSG, Jonaki, Matteo and Amelie, Rituparna of IFN, Amrita Rana, Mehernosh Khajotia of Celebrations, Suryakant Sarjoshi of Aaaswad, Saher, Doc Pradeep, Sameer and Saloni Malkani of Fbai, Kaushik Saha from the Bandra Pujo, Abhijit Desai, Subhasree Bose, Jai Puri and Jaimin and Dolly Bose, Nicole, Divya and Roxanne of KGAF. There were others who couldn't make it for this but they were in book reading the previous week. There were others who joined in through the live Facebook broadcast that we did from the event and many others who were there in spirit even if not in person and who made me realise how blessed I am.

With the family at the end of the launch

With Kainaz without whom none of this would be possible
At the enchanted Cross Maidan venue

Also please read and watch:

The Facebook Live Broadcast of the launch:

Last Saturday I was super excited to see myself in a column I follow religiously
Here's the link to Kunal's article on the KGAF Fest & The Travelling Belly Launch
My mother's blog post on coming to Mumbai for the launch

Some more pictures from the launch:

The crowd waits for the launch

Someone kindly captured my happy face

With Harini, a blogger friend

Somebody pinch me

With Jai Puri

With Nicole Mody of the KGAF, curator of the food section

Moderating the panel

Freddy mama does shagun

And Farida masi too
With Saher

K with princess A, daughter of my classmate
Jonaki from college and her husband Chef Matteo