Suresh and Jyoti started with meetings and interviews in New York before going on to San Jose, Monterey, San Francisco and Los Angeles. They were presented with Scrolls of Honour by the County of Los Angeles for donating 1,000 copies of Calaspia and promoting literacy and education with young people. The Twins gave a variety of public appearances including live TV (e.g. Fox and KTLA The Morning Show).

Guptara Twins Promoted the Calaspia Storytelling Competition, 23 Aug – 10 Sep 2007

It’s our first time in the USA.  Yes, that’s right.
Whenever you tell this to an American in America, they think they haven’t heard aright.  “What?  Seriously?  You’ve never been to the States?”  We reply that that’s the gist of it.  Having seen East and West Coasts now (but, unfortunately, not much in between), we can appreciate their point of view.  Nevertheless, one can’t help but think of the millions of Americans who have never been to another country, let alone crossed the pond to another continent; and that no one would say to the rest, upon hearing that they have set foot for the first time in, say, Switzerland: “Are you sure?  You have never been in the Alps?  Never tasted real – real – Swiss Fondue?”

NEW YORK, 23rd – 29th August 2007

First stop was New York, where we had an interview with ImaginAsian TV, the first channel in the US dedicated to broadcasting solely Asian content 24/7.  Other than iaTV, we had a few more interviews and many meetings with interesting people.

One such meeting was with Dr Dennis Anderson at Pace University, an IT expert who founded NABU – which stands for Knowledge Transfer Beyond Boundaries – of which we are now Youth Ambassadors. (NABU provides consultation to international organizations and promotes the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by harnessing both information and communication technology and the collective knowledge of experts from diverse sectors.)

The height of the buildings in NYC was a disappointment.  We had expected them to be impossibly tall; I suppose a fantasy author’s – well, fantasy – is hard to live up to.  But it was stunning to see the view from the 43rd floor of the McGraw Hill building, for which we must thank John Byrne of BusinessWeek; fun sitting with French literary agent Hélène Brenkman at a table in “Coffee Shop” where the stars often sit (though it is barely possible to hear yourself speak in there); inspiring meeting the venerable Robert Silvers, Editor of The New York Review of Books; and, next door on Broadway, strange seeing literally thousands of people streaming from the Random House conglomerate (which makes one wonder why wannabe writers do not spend their free time outside the doors).  So much for buildings – yes, they were interesting, “short” or not.  The design and architecture in New Jersey on the other hand was delightful, quaint.  I would not mind owning such a house.  Or an office on a 43rd floor, though I am afraid of heights (which Suresh not only disbelieves but disputes).

We stayed with relatives in New Jersey whose hospitality knows no bounds, and it was a joy to join in on a family gathering that put us in mind of the Barue.

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SAN JOSE, MONTEREY, SAN FRANCISCO, 29th August – 4th September

We then flew to San Jose and traveled to Monterey, where we spent Labo(u)r Day Weekend in a fabulous time of meeting and speaking at Renaissance Weekend.  Top secret event.  This was the most interesting time yet, but all off the record (sorry folks) so nothing to report.  Before flying to LA we were able to do some sightseeing – for virtually the first time in the States – and see San Francisco.

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LOS ANGELES, 4th – 10th September

At Los Angeles airport we were picked up by a police escort and whisked to buy shirts before going to the LA Council Assembly, which is like parliament.  There we were officially welcomed to the County and presented with Scrolls of Honour by the Board of Supervisors.  (It was ironic being honoured by a County of 10 million people, when the entire countRy we live in has only 7 million residents, and has yet to give us any state recognition.)  The proceedings were televised.

We were thus honoured for donating 1,000 copies of our book, Conspiracy of Calaspia, to inner-city kids who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in the Calaspia Competition and win the 10-day all-expenses-paid tour of England.  It was a privilege to be able to personally visit many schools and encourage these disadvantaged people to dream.  Del Huff, from County Supervisor Yvonne Burke’s office, kindly oversaw most of our appearances.  Variety, the Children’s Charity, distributed the books; our thanks goes to Maria Schmidt, who appeared with us on the KTLA Morning Show.

Had many meetings (may be able to report some exciting news soon) and interviews including a couple other TV appearances (notably Fox live outside a library where we could hardly hear the questions through the earpiece!) around promoting literacy and education, innovation and creativity in a startling diversity of schools from Watts, where there are seven gangs around the school and there are four exits so that kids didn’t have to trespass in other gang’s territory, and Charter Schools where 92% of the kids go to university, through Cerritos High School and the state-of-the-art library, and Probation, teenagers’ last chance to straighten up before going to jail.  We had such a challenging, instructive, inspiring time.  It was a fantastic journey and our deep gratitude goes to Wini Jackson, who has been involved with the community there for over 40 years; Vishal and Ruth Mangalwadi, head of Sought After Media, which spearheaded the Calaspia Competition; Rabi and Franci Maharaj, and the rest of the team who so humbly and generously gave of their time and effort.
This is but a brutally brief summary and sounds nothing like the hectic but gratifying, exerting but satisfying, crazy, rewarding Blitz that happened.  It would take a book to do it justice.

Looking forward to another visit to the USA soon, hopefully for a bit longer next time!  (And when the book is out with a US publisher?  Quite bizarre doing a US tour without one!)