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About Me


I have the audacity to write for children without having any of my own. What I do have is one of those dreary multicultural backgrounds--I grew up in India and recently moved back to the United States after five years in Sydney, Australia. The resulting crisis of identity infects all of my writing.


No Pets, Please!
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Jan. 25, 2009

Tamarind Rice
sold to Highlights for Children, March 2008

Blue Space Pajamas
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Nov. 11, 2007

Interview with Leonard Marcus
Kite Tales, Winter 2012

Interview with Arthur A. Levine
Kite Tales, Summer 2009

Interview with Michael Stearns
Kite Tales,Spring 2009

As of January 2009, I assumed the post of editor of Kite Tales, the newsletter for the SCBWI Tri-regions of Southern California.


Sandalwood and Stone
Contemporary YA
Winner of the 2010 SCBWI Mulitcultural WIP Award
Writing Contest, SCBWI-LA Writer's Day 2012, YA, 2nd Place

The Initiate's Daughter
Middle Grade Fantasy
Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy 2010

July 31st, 2011 Italy | Rome | TravelRant

63--Under the Roman Sun

I sit at my desk, listening to summer raindrops patter darkly on the leaves outside my window, and my mind wanders to the hot sunny days we spent in Rome last month.

It’s true–all roads do lead to Rome, as this fancy-dress centurion seems happy to point out.

The locals, we found, are very friendly,

delighted to quote you a price for their services,

and, take you for a ride.

Such a good looking people as they are so proud to proclaim,

Though sometimes, “handsome is as handsome does” would leave even the prettiest Roman empress a shade shy of attractive.

Agrippina the younger, empress of Rome, mother of Nero, thought to have poisoned her uncle/husband Claudius and in turn been poisoned by her son.

The bread was plentiful and delicious, the circus–astounding.

The inside of the coliseum with the working underground beneath the stage exposed. These are the passages through which they led animals and gladiators, shifted sets, even had special walkways for VIP guests to get to their seats without having to mingle with the rough and tumble plebs.

And boy did they love their circus. They had time to etch their favorite gladiators in stone, their idea of doodling while they waited for the trapdoors to slide, the stage sets to shift and the next gruesome spectacle to start.

We tended to prefer simpler pleasures, performances of a gentler nature, yet no less spectacular,

or entertaining.

So we gawked at the Forum as we baked in the sun, strolled through the palace of the Vestal Virgins,

The vestal virgins were the only Roman women with rights and privileges approximating those of men.

languished in the beauty of Palatine Hill,

and dreamed of having a Roman villa on high.

We found time to trip down the famous Spanish steps,

stroll by the river,

check out the styles,

hang out with the locals,

take in the fountains, whether famous,

The Trevi Fountain.

so famous they are copied on the other side of the world,

Faux Trevi fountain in Las Vegas.


or downright…strange,

And by the end of the day, we were inspired, overwhelmed, amazed…and thirsty!

A lion-sized thirst,

only quenched with just the right twist of cinammon-scented grappa,

and a wish for a chance to return

for another fun-filled day under the Roman sun.
Hope you will come along πŸ™‚

14 comments to 63–Under the Roman Sun

  • Nancy

    I have only now looked at all your wonderful Italy photos. What a treat! Your pictures are gorgeous and your captions delightful. They are so much more than the typical travelogue. Keep ’em coming!

    • Hey Nancy,
      thanks for stopping by! Sorry we didn’t get to Venice, which I know is your favorite, but we did bring back a Venetian mask that I will show you some time. Thanks for the lovely words.

  • When I was in Roma and visited the Coliseum, I discovered the untold story of Gladiator Cats.

  • Mithu Mundul

    Yes, G8 captions with your pics bring; back nostalgic images of my trip there 30 years ago. Hope you tasted the local red, found it raw & exhilarating!

  • Maira Tortilla

    Awesome pics! Looks like you had a fun & fabulous time in Rome! πŸ™‚

  • Maira Tortilla

    Hola Rillita, Yes, as soon as I walked through the door at JoAnn’s, my co-worker told me that you stopped by. Sorry I missed ya! Did you find some good bargains? Did you get to meet some of the crew at the cut counter? The two guys who work back there are ultra talented!

    And looking forward to your pics from the SCBWI conference! Have lots of funnnnn!!! πŸ™‚

  • These are great photos, Rilla. What a wonderful trip! I love all those fountains, and that weird one with the guy spitting out of his mouth, wow! I’d like to have something like that in my backyard!

    I’d like to hear the story about the gladiator cats, too. Kind of makes me nauseous looking at the colieum and thinking about all those fights to the death. But the structure is magnificent looking, and the underground set up is something else! Thanks for sharing. I’ll never get to travel like you do, so I can go on the virtual trip with you.

    • Hey LynNerd,
      I can just see that fountain in your backyard, grinning dolphins and all. But you’re right about the coliseum–such a magnificent structure but such nauseating history. Hopefully that history will not be repeated.
      Thanks for skipping by. It’s never too late to start travelling in real time! Though virtual travel can be quite a trip πŸ™‚

  • Irfan Ahmed

    Rilla, loved the commentary and pictures — its such an inspiring place.

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