A translation of the Division's immensely popular children's book in Hindi Asli Jeemakare', this book is unique in providing the flavour of Rajasthani culture which transports the reader to a land of vivid and vibrant folk traditions and valour. The stories mirror the stark simplicity, purity and hospitality of the people of Rajasthan. They not only entertain the readers but also provide a glimpse of Rajasthani culture.
Vimla Mehta is a prolific author and writer in Hindi. Writing has interested her since, her student days. In college, she edited the house magazine' Shankh-naad'. Since 1970, she has so far authored 13 books. The books include Aaj kee Mahilaye; Asli Jeemakre; Maharana Pratap; Chey Prasidh Mahilayen; Agam ki Kahaniyan; Rajasthan ki Lok Kathayen; Motiyon ka Haar; Toota Hua Bajooband; Annie Besant; Hazaron Taapu - Ek Desh - Philippines; Aansuon ki Bhiksha; Vividha; and Mother Teresa - Inspiring Incidents. She has contributed over 200 articles in all the leading newspapers and magazines in Hindi. She has contributed articles and presented programmes on All India Radio and Doordarshan. She has also written for BBC, London. She has also been interviewed by BBC and given talks in its programmes.
Vimla Mehta has been intimately associated with charitable work. She is founder Director of Mahaveer Philippines Foundation in Manila for free fitment of Jaipur foot in the Philippines. During their stay in Manila, both her husband and she were closely associated with Mother Teresa's work in the Philippines. In 1993, the City of Manila honoured her for her humanitarian work in the Philippines. It accorded her the rare honour of the "Daughter of Manila" and presented her with the 'Key of the City of Manila'.
A set of interesting folktales of Rajasthan was first compiled in Hindi in the Children's International Year in 1978 and published in 1979. The first story of the collection contributed the title of the book Asli Jeemakre. Four subsequent editions were published in 1981, 1992, 1997 and 2000.
In view of the popularity of the book, it was decided to bring out an English edition.
My publishers, the Publication Division readily agreed.
The popularity of the book has been a source of joy but not a surprise for me.
I had heard the stories in my childhood from relations, acquaintances and helpers. The book largely mirrors the disarming simplicity, purity and natural warmth of the people of Rajasthan. The popularity of the book also emanates from the authenticity of its themes of real life from the hardy life of the villages of Rajas than. The people are close to nature and environmental protection as a part of their folklore comes naturally to them. Simple entertainment in rustic and uninhibited singing and dancing with gay abandon invariably caps a hard day's work of the villagers. This is why lives here are an ocean of folk songs, folk dances and folk tales.
Translation into English was not as easy as I had anticipated. Initial translations of the book had to be discarded. They were unable to capture the nuances of the culture and environment. As a result, the translation missed the basic messages of the stories. I finally requested my husband Veerendra Raj Mehta to undertake the translation. He kindly agreed to do so. However, the publication had to be postponed from 2005 to 2006 because of his other commitments and preoccupations. I am grateful to him for his painstaking and long effort in finally producing an excellent translation.
The quality of the English translation now before the readers would make the wait worthwhile. Maximum effort has been made to retain the flavour of Rajasthani words in the original text. These words have been retained in Roman script and italicized. Explanatory footnotes have also been provided.
A common feedback received on the earlier Hindi editions was that the title of the book did not reflect that it is a collection of folktales from Rajasthan. This diminished the interest of the general lay reader selecting books at any bookshop or bookstall. The title of the book has therefore been changed to Castles In The Air - Tales From Rajasthan.
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