“Have you seen a pink leaf? No? Well I got one!” With these words, journalist turned author Vinitha Ramchandani started her children’s workshop on the life of trees at the Sharjah International Book Fair. She was showing them the leaves of a Bougainvillea. “These leaves are pink because the tiny flowers are not fragrant so the bees may not get attracted to them,” she explained.
In her workshop, Mumbai-based Ramchandani, who had written more than 20 children’s books, reads enchanting stories of the mythical origins of trees out of her book named “Vriksha” which is Hindi for ‘tree’. She let them touch the bark of a rain tree that’s more than a 100 years ago. “We used to climb trees, and touch them all the time. Kids these days don’t know that the trunks of trees are not just brown but can be black, grey and sometimes white,”
She said that she finds it amazing that most people fail at identifying plants and trees. “People even of my generation, don’t know the difference between the sea hibiscus tree and the Indian fig tree. They both have heart-shaped leaves but they are distinctly different from one another,” she said.
Ramchandani gets her passion for trees from her family. “My grandmother used to make medicines out of trees, I grew up knowing all the names of the trees around me,” she said.
The idea of the workshop started when she noticed that children don’t know the trees around them. So I took children to the park, but then they get distracted so I devised the workshop to give them information through stories.
“Trees are the gentlest giants, they’re magical. They can do so many things. We break their branches and pluck their fruits but they still don’t do anything to us, even though they can,” she told the children.
Ramchandani is an editor of a publishing house in India and has previously worked as a journalist for publications like The Week and The Times of India. The Life of Trees workshop will be held till today, Tuesday, November 11 at Hall 2.