The gran who couldn’t: Indu Balachandran’s latest book is for readers of all ages

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By Ruth Dhanaraj/The Hindu Metro Plus

Most grandmothers are cute and cuddly and can cook up a storm in a snap. Well, most of them can and the title for Indu Balachandran’s latest book — My Grandmother Can’t Cook — is a dead giveaway about one who cannot.

Every creative writer needs a peg to hang their tale on and Indu is no exception. “It was a wisecrack that led to this book,” she laughs. “A couple of years ago I was at a hoity-toity book launch where the author was holding forth on his grandmother’s secret recipes. I was mentally rolling my eyes at the cliche and caught the eye of another lady across the room who seemed to be sharing the same thought.”

Indu goes on to add how she caught up with this like-minded lady after the event. She turned out to be a publisher — Shobha Viswanath of Karadi Tales — and their good-natured banter about the launch and a book for children had Indu retorting that she would write one about a grandmother who could not cook.

That was 12 years ago.

Now as a grandmother herself, especially one who loves telling stories, it seemed fit to spin a story for a title she already had.

While My Grandmother Can’t Cook is an engagingly delightful story about a little boy’s mortification over his grandmother’s lack of skill in the culinary department, it also drives home a few important points on peer pressure, stereotyping and such, which would benefit young listeners and readers of all ages.

Indu has also included regional vocabulary in the book as a learning tool for different communities and culinary delights from India.

Aimed at readers above four years, My Grandmother Can’t Cook has been cleverly illustrated by Priya Kuriyan, in a relatable, yet whimsical fashion. Vivid colours, humorous expressions and bright illustrations make for a children’s book that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Indu is quick to add the protagonist in this tiny tale is not modelled after anyone, though the little boy in the book is named after her grandson Neil and the stylish gran in the illustrations bears a close resemblance to her sister Bhanu Ramaswami, who is a wonderful cook.

Indu says young readers can look forward to more ‘nutty’ adventures of Neil and his paati (grandmother).


(Published by Karadi Tales My Grandmother Can’t Cook is available online and at bookstores from March end)

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