SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Minthe in Mythology

The Herb Society of America has this to say about Mythology:

Mythology is the handmaid of literature, and literature promotes happiness. Myths were told or sung to people at least 5,000 years ago. They were told to explain dreams or reasoning for certain happenings or to understand their gods.

 http://www.herbsociety-stu.org/Mythology.htm

The website gives a brief outline of many herbs and also the myths/stories behind these herbs

But the story I find most fascinating and filled with Jungian interpretations is the story of Mint...

Minthe or Mentha was a beautiful naiadian (naiad), a water maiden who lived near the river Cocytus. The lord of the underworld Hades (otherwise known as Pluto), falls in love with her and seduces her easily, as she is completely mesmerized by the handsome God and his golden chariot. 

Hades has committed great folly; his wife is none other than the mighty Persephone. The spurned wife captures the hapless lover and has her crushed. Hades unable to stop his wife transforms the crushed soul into a plant which released a fragrant aroma with every step.

So that's how this weak herb received it's aroma.

Once again this story can be traced back to Ovid's Metamorphoses, the same book that gave us the story of Cupid and Psyche...

Can we see this Husband and his vice in a different context?

 So when his wife tries to destroy it, the repentant Husband converts his vice to one that gives pleasure to all!

Hmmm...very simple interpretation...but we can delve deeper...


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Story Words: SONDER

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Poetic indeed...
Another meaning 
The realisation that every random person is living a life as vivid and complex as your own....






This word (or non-word) is a relatively new entrant into the world of words and has not been actually accepted by any Dictionary of repute...

It was used on a blog on Tumblr first and was created by "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows"


The origin is interesting and so is its meaning....

"As she sondered upon the moonlit walk, she pondered upon the pointlessness of life"

Here is a nice article on SONDER


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stories in words: Serendipity


Life is a series of accidents...You can either agree with me or disagree.

On one side you have the Achiever, who plans and plots his path, sticking to goals and getting there or striving to get there. On the other hand is the Achiever who walks a path, that he/ she is willing to take as it comes and goes; the inadvertent adventurer.

I fall into the second category...

So as I found a definition for events that unfold in my life by virtue of accident, I also found something else by accident...
Some words in the dictionary have beautiful stories to tell!!

So my first word to you readers is "Serendipity". 
It comes with such a rich background, I am truly stumped at how it has landed on my plate, and embarked me on this journey...

Sir Horace Walpole created this word after reading the story of  "The Three  Princes of Serendip".
It is a Persian fairytale of 3 princes who embark on a journey and make many discoveries by accident; discoveries of wisdom and learning that they were not actually looking for.
The word Serendip is used for Srilanka and has its origin from the old Arabic name of Sarandib. Parts of Srilanka was ruled by the Chera kings, who were from Cheranadu ( India) and called this island Cherandeep and so was called Sarandib by the Arabs.
( source: Wikipedia)

Apparently Sir Horace called the story a silly fairy tale and in all probability was intrigued by the idea of discovering things by accident rather than calculated wisdom, and so chose to coin this term. It is a long story and starts this way
"In ancient times there existed in the country of Serendippo, in the Far East, a great and powerful king by the name of Giaffer. He had three sons who were very dear to him. And being a good father and very concerned about their education, he decided that he had to leave them endowed not only with great power, but also with all kinds of virtues of which princes are particularly in need."

It goes on to tell us that the 3 Princes refuse their Father's wealth an dset out in search of their own fortune  and destiny. On the way they meet a Camel Owner who has lost his camel, and through a serious of deductions help him find it. Impressed, the King of the state, asks them to help him out, and again, through a series of deductions and lucky guesses, they solve all problems....and so on...


It is obvious that Horace Walpole had a stroke of genius to create this word Serendipity from all these convolutions and meanderings.

So that is a story well used!
You can read the synopsis of that story here

Then I came across this word: 
SONDER
and another one
BIBLIO BURRO (Well this one is not English, and actually means The Donkey Library)

But I will come with more of that in the next post...

~ssstoryteller~ 





Friday, December 6, 2013

Anansi stories


I am always on the look out for stories to perform...and 

Anansi the Trickster spider is a great story to perform especially in Tandem.

This character of Jamaican origin, is a spider, but upto all kinds of tricks as he tries to become a human in many ways...

Anansi and How wisdom Spread is a great story, with multiple versions available, each ending in a different way. The story can be performed with a nice African chant to begin with...

These stories can also be adapted as sensory stories..."Why Anansi has Thin legs" is a great story to tell with sensorial material

Enjoy!








Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Miss. Baigan, Mrs Kadhu, Yo Carrot and Oye Onion...Veggie stories


Story: The Great Vegetable Race
Story characters: Miss.Baingan; Mrs.Khadu Khadu, Yo Carrot; Oye Onions and the winner is Runner Beans  

Story Line: A simple story, where the veggies are excited over a competition, added flavor is the fact that Miss.Baingan thinks it is a beauty contest!

They all come prepared...but eventually the race is won by Runner Beans!!
Applause!! Applause!!

A great way to have children participate in this story is have them bring vegetables and dress it up for the story! Best suited for the little ones...

But I had fun, doing up my veggies...take a look....








Story: The Enormous Carrot
Story Characters: Any animal that you can find, people too
Story Line: Based on the story "The Enormous Turnip", I adapted it to use  a carrot as children are familiar with it and the veggie is also one that throws shoot out, which can be pulled out..

So Grandfather and his family try to pull out the carrot, but finally when all of them work together, the carrot pops out and everyone gets to eat the delicious carrot

The story can have all children becoming characters and participating and finally they can come up with different ways to cook a carrot too!! You can also use  a chant while the carrot is being pulled out:
Heave Ho...Pull and Show... 


Here we are, with a kind parent donning the mantel of the carrot, while we all pulled and pulled...






Thanks to Think Box Library@ Vignana Nagar, Bangalore and their wonderful members...
Looking forward to more...

May be at Christmas...??
Watch out...Here Comes Santa....!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When your daughter fits into your clothes...

There I have said it...

I have actually wanted to write about this for the past 4 months, but just don't have the discipline to put pen to paper, or as the case here, finger to keyboard.

What have I disclosed?

Hmmm...my daughter fits into my clothes!! (Picture me with a wry face!!)

How does that make me feel?
Proud, happy, awestruck
Bemused, sad, and a wee bit scared...

Whoa...I thought the first time it happened... is she that big?!!

Well, let me set the context here. My daughter learns Carnatic music and till 4 months back she was allowed to wear long skirts and tee for classes. I guess the long became too flowy and unwieldy and definitely distracting for some children, so the rule now is to wear kurtas/ salwar to class.

So she picked out her only kurta and legging and wore it for class. Then the next class came and the absent minded mother that I am, I had done nothing to enhance her wardrobe. So she started scouting....conveniently in my cupboard. 

Lo and behold she found a kurta that fit her, that was a little tight for me...and claimed it for herself. I smiled and admired her resourcefulness and indulgently let her go.

Yes, the thought that crossed my mind...Oh, is she that big? ( Or am I so diminutive?!!)

Folks, there is a slight issue here though...now inspite of getting her couple of kurtas more, I find her rummaging my cupboard before every class, just in case she can find something from my collection to her liking. 
Variety?
Hmmm...
More choice?
Hmmm...

Hey, now I can't find my kurtas and my matching leggings...in all probability it has wormed it's way into my daughter's cupboard...

So my daughter fits into my clothes and I allowed her to wear one of mine...
Look where it has landed me!!

Back in my days, all my Mother's wardrobe could offer me was her Sarees (all neatly starched and pressed and placed in individual plastic bags), that I had to ask permission before I could take them...for some event or function, and that too, much later when I was in High school...and even later when I went to College. 

So now that I have given access to my cupboard, I am sure I am going to find my Tees missing...maybe a jean or two (not yet, my posterior is way bigger than hers!)...my sweaters...my jackets...my ear rings, my jewelry....

I think I better drop the "MY" now!!

But when I rewind to watch videos of her first day with me...the puny baby legs, the scrunched up wrinkled face, the tiny fisted hands....and then turn around to watch her, watching me...the baby is my memory...
...she is a beautiful young woman, with a gently wicked sense of humor, a kind soul...who is big enough to fit into my clothes....

once again I am reminded of Khalil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.


You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



                                        ~ unconditional love is the only purpose of life~

~ssstoryteller~




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October starts with "Picturing Change"!

Where do I begin to tell you of all the wonderful things that have been happening?

October started with a bang...with a great storytelling session for the Picturing Change event at Thalam Gallery in Domlur.

Let me rewind a bit to tell you that I met a wonderful soul called Mathangi in a theatre workshop. Somehow in spite of the age difference we really clicked!! We kept in touch, and I happened to keep bumping into her from time to time.

and so it happened....she invited me to do a story session for children from the Anganwadis that she was working with, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. But the request was to do it in Kannada!
That is a challenge, as I can tell in English and Tamil, but have never tried Kannada.

Luckily for me, Aparna, who I work with at Kid and Parent Foundation is fluent in Kannada, so we accepted the invitation to do a session in Kanglish (if you will pardon my typical englification of Kannada!)

Picturing Change is a wonderful idea, conceptualized by Mathangi and photographer Greeshma, to have teachers in Anganwadis capture their story and their life using simple digital cameras. These photographs speak a language of their own, as it shows a world that you and I don't have access to as outsiders.
(You can catch some wonderful images here on their FB links and here.)

Trained by Greeshma, 5 ladies have put together images that show a life filled with colour, vibrancy, love, laughter and most importantly deep emotions. As is true with any story, only when we bare our soul can we access the beauty of the narrative within. So also these images were souls bared, telling us innumerable stories through the pictures they had captured.

I am still in awe of what I saw and the feelings that went through me, just looking at those images. The play of light on a students face, the mother carrying her disabled son, a child doing yoga....so many voices, so many thoughts...

It is but apt that they invite us to do a storytelling session! So we did; the story of Rupa the Elephant, using our gigantic Story Book prop, and the MilkMan's Cow, which is based on Aparna's idea, to incorporate Indian dance forms into our story narrative.

The children were pulled into an imaginative world, but most importantly, we shared the message of Kindness and Compassion (as it was Gandhi Jayanthi) through our stories and finished off with a great Chicken Dance!

Here are some pictures for you to see...












Picturing Change was on till October 12th at Thalam in Domlur.
(In case you wish to know more then;
Mathangi is on a Fulbright Research scholarship to India and can be contacted at mathu.subramanian@gmail.com
Photographer Greeshma can be contacted at greeshma@greeshma.com)

we were also covered in the news, thanks to the wonderful response and encouragement we got from the team at Picturing Change... and you can see that here as well...

.....and of course for all your storytelling needs you can contact me!!

(keep watching this blog for loads of great stuff happening in my life...)

~ssstoryteller~

Friday, September 20, 2013

Round up of Events for September!

Loads happening and loads to tell! Though I would have liked to blog about each event separately. Too many things happening around me!
It so happens that in my excitement to capture the event, I have been busy behind the camera and forget to ask someone to capture me in front of it!

So here are more events and activities from Kid and Parent Foundation....

September 2/ 2013 : It all started with a wonderful event at a school in Indra Nagar, Bangalore, that was celebrating Maria Montessori's birth anniversary. They had requested us to present snippets from her life story to the children along with some fun, interactive stories. So we introduced the children to Karan and Pinky, 2 adorable brother and sister puppets, who shared Montessori Aunty's life with them, followed by 2 stories, Counting Lady Bug and MilkMan's Cow!

We had a blast ad so did the children



#-----------------------------#

September 5/ 2013: Call for Champions: Pratham books annual storytelling feast for ears was happening and we joined up with EverAfter storytelling company to tell stories at Atta Galatta.
3 stories, 3 times the fun!!
We told Babloo Bear's Adventure, Grandfather fish and of course the hero of the event Paplu the Giant.
The children enjoyed all 3 stories and the evening wound down with a fun game called the Ulta Pulta  game conducted by Kid and Parent Foundation. Children went home with a drawing of their favorite story too.

   



#-----------------------------#

September 16/ 2013: We were back at Ananya Trust with stories and more.
This time we had only 2 groups, and I think this is best.  We told the story of Fish Friends 3. A wonderful tale of attitudes and problem solving.
Working with the story for the older group, we had the children identify how they approach a problem, whether they are given to looking at the larger picture or smaller details. Followed by a self awareness activity, where they understood how to look at problems and their attitudes to problem solving.
 It appears that most of the group worried more about their problem before the event but were not as bothered by the success or failure of the event itself. We completed this session with a wonderful technique from Image theater, where we had them thinking about the word Hardwork and creating images for it.














Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Myth of Cupid and Psyche

Here is another story that touched me.I generally keep browsing for stories, and particularly look for stories that can be performed. There is a difference. You see, there are many stories, that need to be read aloud from a book as the language of the text itself is so beautiful, while others sound nice being narrated at some opportune moment, like  a personal story, or a parable.

Stories that can be performed are a different league, not only does one need to relate with the characters, we also have to look at the flow of the story, in terms of the character's quest or search for some resolution. If you are a story writer, you will be well aware of how the story plot has to be carefully planned and characters sketches need to stand out for some unique reason or the other.

So browsing through my collection of stories for a story to tell at the monthly meeting of BSN (Bangalore Storytelling Network) at Atta Galatta, I saw I had saved the story of Cupid and Psyche.
 Ah! a Love story. Was my audience ready for it. I was not sure, but try I must.

So I did, and really enjoyed it and I am told so did my audience.

Here I share a shortened version of the story, taken from the book called Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass (Asinus Aureus) by Latin writer Apuleius, who was a Numidian Berber during the Roman period. It is considered to be the only Latin novel to have survived in its entirety.
(~ reference Wikipedia~)

Psyche, the youngest daughter of a king, is considered the most beautiful mortal born. This makes the Goddess of Love, Venus (Aphrodite) extremely jealous. So she sends her son Cupid, to look for an unsuitable alliance for this maiden.  Yet one look at Psyche and Cupid falls in love and wants to claim her as his own, but knows his mother would not allow it. With the help of the Oracle at Apollo, he has Psyche flown in to his palace in the skies, by Zephyr the West wind (can you see similar story line from Indian Mythology?!). Scared Psyche is appeased when she realises she is loved and cared for by her husband/lover, yet the agreement between them is that, he would live with her at night and not during the day and she was not permitted to see him.Alas, the story turns here, for instigated by her sisters, she succumbs to the temptation to take a peek of her invisible Lover, in the light of a burning candle. The wax falls on the sleeping Cupid, whose angelic countenance makes her realise He is no mortal,but in fact the God of Love himself. yet the deed is done and Cupid leaves her, as he says"Love cannot exist where there is no Trust" .
The story goes on, to tell us how Venus now tests Psyche, by throwing different tasks at her and she passes all of them with help from different sources. One task is to cross the River Styx into Hell itself to collect some precious beauty from Proserpine, wife of Hades. Once again she succumbs to temptation, opens the cask which is supposed to hold the beauty and falls into the sleep of death. Finally she is rescued by Cupid, who frees himself from his mother and arrives to carry Psyche to higher authorities, to finally marry her and live in peace, to beget a daughter called Voluptas ....or Pleasure!   

********
There are some beautiful Metaphors in this story. If you see Cupid as Love and Psyche as the Soul, then you can work out, how this story shows us that the Soul aspires for Love, but has to go through a number of tests before it is able to live with and to take ownership of Love.

On another angle, the Soul succumbs to temptation time and time again, loses trust, and if it wishes to regain Love, then the Soul has to let go of temptation...build trust.

I especially like that their child is named Pleasure!!
********

I am sure we will have many such parallels in Indian Mythology as well. I leave you here to mull over the relationship between the Soul ( Psyche) and Love ( Cupid)...after all the two must marry if we want to walk the path of Happiness.

~till next time....ssstoryteller~

Friday, August 16, 2013

Serving a higher purpose

Stories serve a higher purpose.

Every storyteller starts with a passion to tell a story. They are in all probability enamored by the hero or the hero's quest (here I use Hero without bias...to denote male and female).
But soon this fascination starts to wind itself around the teller, and she/ he soon begins to play with the story. Adapting it, changing it to suit the occasion, or completely transforming it to make it their own.

But there is another angle to it. Stories speak directly to our consciousness. Things that were not said may be construed by the audience and every person takes back what they want to from the story...I as the story teller, have no control over it.

Can we then engage the audience in a way to step up their understanding.

That is what is called as scaffolding. A term widely used in drama and theater practices. Where the audience/ participants will actively engage with the story through specific strategies...which could include asking questions, role plays and forming freeze images.

I usually work with a younger age group, so it was indeed a lot of fun when we used this technique at the Ananya Trust school. 

We used the Chicken -Licken story, which I have already talked about before and you can read about it here. This time it was great fun working with 15+ age group. Some of the children were able to identify with the characters and were able to generate new thoughts and ideas. We used a method called Hot Seating, where one person becomes a character in the story and answers questions posed to them. This method helps the participants actually bring all what they think into the character, sometimes reshaping the character itself, but most of all helping them and us understand, our fears, inhibitions, values, attitudes and belief systems.

We had a splendid time. Hope to have an ongoing monthly engagement with Ananya Trust. Thanks to their team for welcoming us and letting us do what we do.... surely you know this but let me say it again:  learning is a two way traffic!!....










Monday, August 5, 2013

Where is it?

Compassion, kindness, love

Where is it?

I am unable to read the newspaper nowadays. Unable to see the rape, death, and horror that we have created in this human reality, I read my children's school edition instead...at least there is some positive information there.

A good question to start with is
What does compassion look like in ourselves?

For me compassion is unlimited, unbound unconditional love. For me compassion is in my word.
Compassion is knowing that the reason for another to be different, is as difficult for me to understand as the other's difficulty to understand me.

We go through life so unaware of what we are saying and how we are saying it. Words and actions that so contradict our intentions.

We love our children, but do we respond with compassion to them? Is communication congruent? We growl and glare and stare at them...all because we are trying to discipline them.

Recently we had a mini crisis in my house. My son is in this trajectory of running away from responsibilities....he is always one to drop every ball he is juggling to become a couch potato or to escape into the outdoors to get his adrenalin fix. So on Saturday when my husband asked him if he had done his homework, he was told there was none. Sunday evening...almost night...at 8 pm, he had still not come back home from play and we get to know from our neighbors daughter and classmate that he had a sizable amount of homework to finish plus a debate to prepare for.

"Liar, why cant you tell the truth?"
"I did not lie, I forgot"
"Forgot?! How can you forget? See again you are lying. If we don't correct him now, he will become a lazy bummer, he will amount to nothing. He needs to be more disciplined, cut his privileges, ground him."
.......................................................

Tears, frustration, humiliation.....more lies?...fear....

........................................................

But you know what, these adult words come from our own fears. Fear that we are not capable of raising an ideal child. Fear to step out of our own traditional system of raising children. Fear that the child may become a compulsive liar...Fear of spoiling our child
All valid fears...
As I yo-yo between traditional ways to raise my children and an intuitive need to break away and find my own way to learn with them how to raise them....I am left with only one word that raises its hand towards me, to take my unsure arm and lead me down its way. Compassion

If I respond to every wrong doing with compassion, then I need not fear...I know that the actions and words that follow this word will only lead me and my children towards happiness...Every time I respond to a situation with compassion, I know I have gained a learner in my child and I know that they will eventually choose what is right....and not need someone else standing over them telling them what is right...

When we consistently live compassion with our children, they learn to be compassionate....

........................................................................

So my next question is...

What does compassion look like in our society?....

( ...to be continued)

ssstoryteller

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We meet again!

Yes it was the second meeting of BSN! @ Thalam in Domlur on 30th July 2013

Bangalore Storytelling Network is creating a space for adult story tellers. This time it was a smaller group, but we shared great stories. I heard an Arabian folktale  and a Jewish folktale, a very engrossing and looong story from South India, a myth actually, then a children's tale and finally a wonderful episode from the Mahabharata. (I told a very contemporary myth from Tibet, written by a Shambala Sangha member.)

The episode from Mahabharatha was taken from the book, The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and speaks about the beginning of the story of stories...and that it was all for a glass of milk...kept us engrossed for quite some time as any story from Indian mythology does, as it is so rich in metaphor (Thanks Neeta). It is difficult not to sit and ponder over the fact that when we actually trace the source of a gigantic manifested problem, it would have in fact started as an innocuous issue.
Looking for metaphors and the meaning behind stories is always fun.

In fact we have taken this as an important aspect of our storytelling sessions...to make discussions on metaphors as an important element of our meetings. I wont give away the stories...as we are planning to perform them soon at a very happening venue ...so till then wait and watch for highlights and pictures of stories that we will tell!

Till then enjoy these pictures from the Meet Up




Monday, July 22, 2013

Remembering You

My mother passed away this January.
But I am not writing to say I am sad…she suffered towards the end and was in great pain. I want to write about the dignity I saw in her pain. Some people suffer a lot throughout their life and then when the end comes it is in all probability sudden and peaceful.

But Amma lived a peaceful life, troubled by small things I am sure, managing a joint family, 3 children and an ambitious husband. She sacrificed her aspirations in the initial years to pave way for a life filled with achievements in the later stage of her life, as an accomplished writer and social worker.

When her end came, she was but 61 years old, is that too young, or is that old enough? I know a friend who lost his mother when she was but 51 years and another who lost her father when he was but 48 years. However old, the loss is amplified by the amount and extent to which they suffer or the extent to which we see their suffering.

Sudden, incomprehensible loss leads to great pain for those who are left behind, while those who suffer the indignity of pain leave behind those who mingle feelings of relief with sadness at seeing their loved ones free of pain.

But Amma showed immense courage in the face of such excruciating pain.
She was diagnosed in June and by august, the disease had spread considerably. My father was trying every conceivable treatment suggested to him. Ayurvedic, naturopathy, and of course chemo, but the stress was beginning to show….yet I had no clue, staying in Bangalore as I was, I would call every day and get a cheerful voice from the other side. “No problem, managing; we are fine” and then some details of the diet and medicine regime and a cheerful tata, and then I would make the call only the next morning.

It was mid-November and my usual call home. I had visited in between once, but both of them were pretty cheerful and confident the disease was in control. In fact Appa was taking Amma to as many places as she could visit, within her physical capabilities. Since so much rested on positivity and a sense of “we can beat it with our thinking”, we all went along with it.

So when I called mid-November, Amma picked the phone. Her voice started quite normally, but I could soon hear her struggling, there was a silence, a pause and then she resumed her responses. They were minimal, a “Huh” and a “yes” and “I’m Ok” from the other side. I kept rambling….and suddenly realised there was no one on the other side. Amma had dropped the phone and gone. I was perplexed and bemused, waiting for someone to pick up the phone, when Appa came on line, to tell me everything is ok, that Amma was just feeling a little breatheless. I could feel my heart sinking…as I realised the full import of what was happening there. It was an act. Amma was not ok, Appa was watching her suffer every day and they were putting up a brave front.

I left the next day to be with them. I stayed on for a month.

Not once did she complain or worry or wonder why this should happen to her. She would look at me through her pain glazed eyes at times to tell me, “I have had a good life, I have no regrets”; Your father has taken very good care of me and now you are there”.

Morphine was her solace towards the end; we watched the dependency slowly increase as she waited for the next dose so that the pain would recede…Yet she smiled at the visitors, cuddled her grand-niece and insisted on giving vethalai–paaku to her sambhandis; enjoying her evening wheelchair ride through her garden, smiling at her beloved plants.

I cannot forget the dignity she showed even in all that pain. The only promise she extracted from us was that we should not neglect her plants and nurture them like she did. She left behind a huge collection of more than 200 varieties of plants, which I am sure pine for her till date.


For me when she was alive she influenced almost every act of mine, consciously and many times unconsciously as well. I value her traditional upbringing which is also within me; at the same time what I cherish the most is watching her face death with such dignity. Will I emulate her in that? Time will tell…but I do miss her, her no-nonsense take on life and her ability to jump in and take charge whatever be the situation. I know that is something I have not been able to learn from her…

Friday, July 19, 2013

Knit me a Story



Asha Nehemiah's story "Funny Sweaters" is really a gem...I am not sure many have taken a theme such as this to write a cute children's story. It is about an old woman who ...knits!
 The old woman moves to the mountains with her daughter and faces a problem every day. As evening sets in, the clouds move into her house and barely allow her to see, and in that darkness she continues to knit.
But alas, in the morning she discovers an extra hand or an extra hole in her sweater...but don't you fret, for she is a resourceful lady who then gifts these wonderfully crazy sweaters to those who really deserve it...to the Mother and Baby monkey a sweater with 2 neck holes, to keep them both warm...to the three legged Dog, a sweater with 3 arms!!
I wonder how children would enjoy this story? I know my children have chuckled over the story line and picked it up couple of times to look at the whacky ideas created by Asha...but it would be interesting to throw open this book to children and find out who would need and how we could make different kinds of clothes to suit different needs, not just the kind of clothes we see normally...

You must be wondering why I am rambling on about knitting and sweaters...well I discovered knitting as a stress buster and I am at it now! Thats why!
I have made a headband for my son...green and purple (Hogwarts colours, if you wish to point that out!)...and I am attempting a square piece in a lovely shade of blue , pink and magenta....
I am feeling too lazy to actually take a snap of the piece I am doing and put it up here...but trust me when I say the colours look pretty neat....
I am not sure if I will go as far as to knit an entire sweater...or even a sock...but I am thinking I will attempt a Poncho...atleast!

Still in the pipe line is a quilt....got the pieces cut, but have not worked out how to stitch it up...so next time I will bring to you a wonderful story on quilting...and the beauty of creating a Story Quilt.

Till next time
ssstoryteller




   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A story! A story! and the creation of BSN

Venue: Thalam
Purpose: Meeting of the Bangalore Storytelling Network
Theme: Any story for 5 minutes

Well if I was to send you an invite it would contain these details!

An interesting forum has been created  for Storytellers in Bangalore and the venue was Thalam, a brand new space for creative endeavors, in Domlur(check out the link)!! Thalam is centrally located and provides space for events, workshops and get-to's. We were happy to get this space for our first ever meeting of the Storytelling Network in Bangalore, created by Deeptha a pretty young storyteller!

So a bit of intro, some stories and some thinking went into an evening spent sharing, understanding and creating...creating a focus for this group of people who appear to love stories...an evening well spent.

Here is the story I said:

AK Ramanujam's Folktales from India, is a collection one must read....like a scripture to put it more strongly. Read it and then again, till stories sink into your bone. I realise that stories kind of infiltrate into your system and then enter your blood stream and when they finally lodge themselves in your mind...whooosh...there is a Rush!
Stories grow on you, but you need to collect them like precious jewels, polish them and keep them safely tied up in delicate spaces, to adorn the audience at the opportune time.
I found a classic tale from Ramanujam, called " What happens when you really listen". This story is also available from Tulika publications and is called "Sweet and Salty".
There is a distinct rural flavor in the way Ramanujam has delivered the tale, while Tulika has cutely adapted for a much younger audience.
The story is of a Husband and Wife living in a village in Andhra. The Husband is not aesthetically inclined, while the Wife wishes he was more so. So when a famous storyteller arrives to tell the Ramayana, she urges her Husband to sit through the discourse. The first night he sleeps only to wake up to eat the sweet that is usually distributed and when asked he tells his wife the story was very sweet. The second night he sleeps but a child makes his shoulders, a cosy seat, so he tells his wife the story was heavy. The third night sees him sleeping with his mouth open and  a dog pisses into it, so all he can recall to his wife is that the story was salty! Mystified, the wife takes him to task and discovers the truth. Now she insists he sit right in front and follow the story. Then the miracle she hopes for happens as he dives into the story...literally!! As the Storyteller/ Hanuman jumps into the ocean to retrieve the ring, our friend too jumps onto the stage to help find the ring. Oh, what compelled him to do such a thing? The villagers believe he is blessed and from that day on wards treat him with reverence, all because....he really listened to the story! 

So if you love to tell stories and listen to them as well, then hop onto the BSNetwork and come into the WORLD OF STORIES

~~Until next time: ssstoryteller~~




Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Mountain Song - Hope to appease its fury...














It is almost surreal to think that we were there just last week (June 11th to 16th). My much awaited vacation, a proper one, with rooms booked, flights booked, not an ad-hoc drive down-and take-the-first-motel-that-we-can-find.
The Himalayas, seductive beauty that she is, beckoned us and we gladly surrendered to her enchantment. We had  a dream stay at Manali Sterling Resorts called White Mist. Picture perfect, and at that time I thought, in perfect weather. The locals were complaining of the heat and on the day we landed it started drizzling, "perfect weather too" I exclaimed. Sweaters out, umbrellas out, what a quintessential Hill station! "I just died in its arms!!"  
  
We did not realise the fury that was to be unleashed in the wake of our return. We escaped at every step, just managing to leave Kullu from Buntar airport on the only flight that flew that week and then again from Delhi, before the floods marooned the safe haven airport.     

These photos speak a different story, the calm before the storm if you want to call it. The only sign of unrest, in my eyes was the Parvati river at Manikaran, about 85kms from Manali, that was looking unprecedentedly choppy and agitated. In fact my partner who had visited this temple in 1991, was surprised to see the river so prodigiously swollen, and mentioned that back then they could walk upto the large stone cropping towards the middle of the river bed (second last photo)! The driver was quite sure it was due to glaciers melting, as it is summer now. Alas, it was far more than that...

Serene and soft 
I could watch you all day,
Unsurpassed and unmatched 
your beauty haunts me today.

My dear mountains
I never thought you would enchant me,
become dearer to me
As much as the unfathomable sea.

As you tell your stories
I hear them through the wind,
A whispering ditty at times
Lo! a wailing lament many times.

You are a loving embrace
And a sweet kiss on my face,
You are dignity
And all the true thoughts in my mind.

With you I need only to feel 
For thoughts carry us nowhere,
While what I feel 
Carries me to you.