It’s time to meet the fourth and last–but not least–of the Botanic Hill Detectives, thirteen-year-old Rani Kumar!
Rani moved to Las Palmitas, California, from her native India when she was five years old. Her father, Devi Kumar, is a professor of geology at the local university. Her mother, Gajara Kumar, is an airline manager at the city’s international airport. Rani and Lexi are best friends, live only two streets apart on Botanic Hill, and know so much about one another.
One thing Lexi was surprised to learn was that Rani is a synesthete. That’s someone with synesthesia, an extra sensory ability where one sense, for example hearing a word or name, triggers something else, such as a taste or smell. That’s Rani’s type, and it’s called lexical-gustatory (word to taste) synesthesia. It’s very rare. About 0.2% of the world’s population has lexical-gustatory synesthesia. Rani enjoys what she considers her special gift and likes to try to use it to help solve the squad’s cases.
During a mystery, Rani will sometimes drift away in thought. When, she returns, she has just the right idea to help the group. She can be quiet and reflective one minute, then snap her fingers and loudly express her feelings or ideas the next. You can count on her to keep things running smoothly on the case since she quickly shuts down occasional spats among the squad members.There is an air of mystery, gracefulness, and intelligence about her that she brings to each case. She does, however, enjoy teasing Moki–especially about snakes.
Rani is the smallest of the four detectives, very athletic, and a fast runner. Her long, wavy black hair is often in a thick braid or ponytail. She loves wearing saris, the beautiful draped-fabric costume of some women and girls of India. Her grandmother, who lives with the family, makes Rani’s saris by hand, and the girl is very proud of them. She’s usually wise enough to know when to wear a sari, and when to choose Western dress instead for working on a case. She enjoys painting henna tattoos on Lexi’s arms and telling her BFF stories about life in India.
So get a clue, Readers. Since I, too, have lexical-gustatory synesthesia, many of Rani’s name-to-food associations will actually be mine! Watch for Rani’s use of synesthesia and her other gifts as she and her fellow detectives try to solve the mystery of Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets.