Lom Harshni Chauhan has an endless well of energy. Soon after she arrived in Beijing from Shenzhen on Monday and after having an early evening chat with HT at a business district restaurant over ravioli, she rushed to a late night swing dance session.
In between, we briskly walked over to Beijing’s favourite expat book haunt, the Bookworm, where her first book, Visa, Stickers and Other Matters of the Soul was launched on Tuesday evening.
It was possibly to channelise this energy through her daughter, Kyra, that Chauhan wrote the book – a book that is part of about her active 12 years in China and partly about parenting in a “globalised and rootless world”. Chauhan’s daughter was born in Chongqing in 2005.
“As Kyra grew up, she began to ask me questions. About god, religion and death. About whether she was Indian or Chinese? I had to tell her something. So, I started to dip into my own knowledge about life and spiritualism,” Chauhan, who is from Himachal Pradesh, said.
“Many among today’s children are rootless...their memories fade...my daughter is neither fully Indian and can never be fully Chinese.”
What she found challenging was to infuse in Kyra strains of Indian culture and spiritualism as the youngster’s world is being simultaneously shaped by her life in China.
She began to gather her thoughts and write in 2012.
“As thoughts would come, I would jot them down. Sometimes, I revisited the chapters to add new situations,” she said.
What helped Chauhan was her own experience growing up at home in a spiritual milieu and studying for three years at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in Anantapur.
Chauhan said she was both lucky and inspired. “Clarity was there in my thought. The thoughts flowed. Much of the book is about her experiences in parenting and guiding Kyra during her fifth and eighth birthdays.
Chauhan laughed out fondly when I asked whether Kyra liked the book.
Kyra had a precocious piece of advice for her mother after flipping through one chapter – in a chapter dealing with death, Kyra told her mother it was important to have a touch of humour, just enough to make the reader smile.
The book is about parenting and spiritualism – certainly not about how to get your China visa – and Chauhan hopes that its readers will be able to connect to it.