After flying half way across the world, my plane lands in Delhi. The monsoon is still out of sight and the temperature outside is at a record high this summer: 111.2 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius, 4 degrees over the historical average). Horns blaring, colors flashing, my taxi races down the highway from the airport to the guesthouse in the Majnu ka Tila area on the Yamuna River, which has become the Tibetan refugee quarter of Delhi.
After months of emailing, I finally meet Priyanka Malhotra, the director of the publishing company we are working with in India. We meet at the Khan Market Full Circle bookstore in New Delhi, one of Full Circle Publishing’s four bookshops.
On my way to Khan Market, I run into an undeniably happy elephant. She brings her enormous face close to mine and I stroke her painted coarse-haired trunk. She winks one of her amber eyes that peak from either side of her massive head. Spraying me with what I choose to believe is water, she swings her head from side to side, lumbering away with rhythmic strides, delicately placing one foot in front of the other on the sizzling Delhi concrete. What an elegant creature! A good omen, I am sure of it.
I arrive at Khan Market, weaving my way through the crowd of shoppers. Leaving the now 113 degree heat behind, I sigh in relief as I enter the air-conditioned bookshop. Shelves and shelves of books of every color and creed line the walls of the cozy bookstore. Delicious smells waft down from the Full Circle-run Café Turtle upstairs. I follow the familiar sound of muffled lunchtime murmurings and silverware clinking plates up the staircase to meet my date.
Over a glass of fresh mango juice, we discuss the Snow Lion Storytelling Initiative. Priyanka Malhotra leafs through the five picture books I brought along with me. We exchange questions and concerns, learning more about each other’s project and profession.
More delicious juice later, we shake hands and share our enthusiasm for the upcoming months of collaboration.
Back at the guesthouse, I prepare for the trip up North to Dharamsala with a light heart.
Find out more about Full Circle bookstore locations here.