Viswaprasad Raju is an advertising professional and a travel sketch artist based in Hyderabad. His travel sketches have been featured in Lonely Planet, The Week, Spice Route, The Hindu, New Indian Express, Wow! Hyderabad, among many others. He is a fan of Wimbledon, Galle, Fine Stationery and the National Parks of Central India. His book Lockdown 20: Notes & Posts contains notes and posts on the COVID-19 induced lockdown, which he penned between Lockdown 1.0 & Lockdown 5.0.
I chat with the author Viswaprasad Raju about his book Lockdown 20: Notes & Posts, how the book came to be, book recommendations, and much more.
Hello, Viswaprasad! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Simply put, I am an advertising professional and a travel sketch artist based in Hyderabad. This is my second book, my first – Via Pen & Ink – was a collection of travel sketches spanning ten countries, which was featured in Condé Nast Traveller, Lonely Planet among many other travel publications.
Which authors and books were your early formative influences?
Martin Rattler: Adventures of a Boy in the Forests of Brazil by R. M. Ballantyne, From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang And Tibet by Vikram Seth, Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan. I devoured travel literature: travel magazines, travel essays, guide books, et al. I still do.
How would you describe your book Lockdown 20: Notes & Posts in one sentence?
A witty and wry light read about the Lockdown.
Now tell us a little more about the book! What can readers expect?
It's a snappy read. There was so much happening during the lockdown, globally, nationally and locally – chaos, anxiety, distress. I wanted to capture the moments and distill them into posts that readers can look back and say: ‘We all have been through this!’
What was the moment when the idea of this book first came to be? What made you pursue it?
It was supposed to be a weekend trip to my in-laws place in coastal Andhra Pradesh. It wasn't. It became a 3 month stay. The upside was, I spent a lot of time with the family, had great food, played cricket while managing work over Zoom.
In between all this, I started posting my observations on the lockdown with a tinge of humour, as there was enough darkness all around. No day passed without me posting on how the world was bracing up to the pandemic. Between March and May. The posts were liked and shared and many commented that I could come out with a book with these posts. That's how it all started, from online to offline. Once I came back, I completed the book and here we are talking!
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Lockdown 20: Notes & Posts?
I have kept a few pages empty in the book, for the readers, to document their Notes & Posts. It's symbolic of the fact that everyone was in it, the pandemic doesn't give two hoots about who you are and where you come from. Readers will relive the times and revisit the complexities of the lockdown. Hopefully, with a smile, though it was tough for everyone.
How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?
By starting work on my next book: Green Spaces – In & Around Hyderabad.
Lastly, are you currently reading anything and do you have any book recommendations for our readers?
I narrowed down my reading to two genres: Outdoor Literature by British travel writers and Sri Lankan English Literature. From the books I have read recently, I would recommend Monisha Rajesh's Around The World In 80 Trains, Jini Reddy's Wanderland, Andrew Fidel Fernando's Upon a Sleepless Isle: Travels in Sri Lanka in Bus, Cycle and Trishaw and Amanthi Harris' Beautiful Place.
The book ‘Lockdown 20: Notes & Posts’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.