SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

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 make discussions on metaphors as an important element of our meetings. I wont give away the we are planning to perform them soon at a very happening venue 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 the Mother and Baby monkey a sweater with 2 neck holes, to keep them both 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 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 the pieces cut, but have not worked out how to stitch it next time I will bring to you a wonderful story on quilting...and the beauty of creating a Story Quilt.

Till next time


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 evening well spent.

Here is the story I said:

AK Ramanujam's Folktales from India, is a collection one must 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~~