Showing posts from 2008

Uthara writes too!

This is Uthara's original story. Even though, a moral at the end seems to be mandatory for her, I like her thought here goes..( I have not edited any grammatical/spelling errors!!) Uthara is my daughter, age-7 1/2! Story No.1 Who Is The Greatest? In a big house in the Dining Table there was a cup of Tea, Coffe,Milk. the coffe and the tea were discusing Who was greatest. "I am the gratest because I am the latest drink" said the coffe. "I was there even befor british came also". But cup of milk kept quiet. Then a boy came and drank the cup of milk! The cup coffe was very sad, the cup of tea too. But next secend the boy's mother and father came and drank the drinks. the father drank the tea and the mother drank the coffe. cups were so happy, they all said to each other now on words we both are best of friends. the moral of the story is Everybody is the same. Story No.2 (based on an idea given by her father!) Nothing Once in a village there live

Having a blast at my special school...!

Yep! I had a blast! Today was the culmination of my efforts in storytelling for this term at my special school. Over the last 4 months, I've been doing one story with the special children in the Non-Formal educational group, every Thursday.( Non- formal implies that these children, who have cerebral palsy and other associated disabilities like mental retardation/sensory impairments, get training in a number of life skills, along with some functional literacy skills.) Every week it was a challenge selecting a story for this group. The story had to be simple and realistic enough for them to relate to. Fantasy doesn't work, as it has no meaning, long plots also have no value. Finally out of all the stories done, it was Varsha who decided that it would be the story of the Milkman's Cow. Varsha is a shy, reserved, non-verbal teenager, and when i started off with these sessions, she would be looking elsewhere, not interested, just not connecting. Then I did Milkman's Cow, an

Nivedita playing the fur elise

Nivedita played the fur elise by Beethoven. I was floored! She played it with such elan and panache. Who doesn't recognise that melody? Such a confident young girl she has become, I cannot resist writing about her! I've seen her 6/7 years back in 1st standard. Naughty, talkative, smart, and very people savvy, she was everyone's darling. I am seeing her now, and I guess she must be about 15/16 years old... She looks smart, and savvy, and plays the synthesizer like a pro! She is really an inspiration for me. I look at her parents, and admire them. What a fantastic job they have done, they have raised her so well inspite of all the odds. You see Nivedita studies in a special school, and has Cerebral palsy. A condition which affects her mobility and coordination. We need to make such children true champions of this world, give them awards, rewards and accolades. Talk about them every where, so that we can all learn to appreciate life!

Elegy to a loved one....

People were her lifeline. She wanted them and likewise they too were attracted to her. Her charm and common sense, her piety and her calm, were there for all to imbibe and to emulate. They say a woman is the back bone of the family; she can make it or break it. This lady was the matriarch of our family. Her kind and gentle demeanor was only a facade for an assertive and stubborn personality. She laid the rules, the values, the religious rituals to be followed. All laid down by her dictum. Don’t mistake me, she was not dictator, but I can call her a benevolent despot!! She grew old, her roots firm and secure, enclosed in the protective fold of her son’s family she could now lead a retired life. Handing over all her responsibilities and her chores into the competent and capable hands of her daughter in law, albeit reluctantly, she immersed herself in piety and worship. The first blow came when grandfather passed away. The red dot on the forehead of a married woman is her proud declarat

Arul's "Little Monster"

Guess what I did this week for my story session. Yes, you are absolutely right! I did "Little Monster". Arul's maiden venture into the world of magical story writing. It was simply a great hit! The children from all 7 classes, just lapped it up like cream. They connected with all the characters and names, especially "Snewalot", from where the wicked witch comes, was one of their favorites.I just had the book with me this time, and drew the 3 main protagonists on some colored paper, just so that the kids could see it in a bigger frame. Not one class would let me stop. If there were any interruptions then some other child would shush him/her up and say, "Please Aunty, continue!" I stopped at chapter 9 drawing loud protests from all, and said "To be continued". "No aunty, don't stop, not fair", were all the words hurled at me. Sweet Pleasure! Children showed a good grasp of vocabulary, they knew, "quest", "armor"

Story with Tangrams

So this is my second week with a story,for my weekly assignment at a school. I knew what I wanted to do. Something with Tangrams. The Tangram is a fun/educational idea developed in China. If you have children then you would have definitely come across this. It can keep children occupied for hours. It has 7 pieces having a definite shape. A square, parallelogram, and the rest triangles of different sizes. The whole point is to create figures with these shapes and it can be fascinating. So browsing through the net I found a nice story with Tangrams. Its about a grandfather telling his grand daughter a story with Tangrams, the main characters in this story are fox fairies! So I made the Tangram pieces with paper, got them photocopied and stuck them onto A4 sheets. Now I wanted to display this. When I tell the story, I want the sheets to be displayed on the table (standing). So I went around looking for an easel or a stand. The stationary shop had what I wanted, but the cost was way b

"Perseus" in school

Have you ever told the same story 7 times to 7 different groups of children? I have, and will have to every Monday for the next 3 to 4 months! I am filling in for a friend who wants a break from storytelling at a school near my place. She has been doing this for 4 years now!.Amazing. So for my first story, I planned to do, Perseus from the Greek heroes myths. Story is great, right elements of heroism, monsters and magic so children should like it, and I was not wrong on that. I made simple drawings and in my signature style , converted them into stick puppets for use in the class. I made a good looking paper helmet of Invisibility, a Shield, and a pair of paper Sandals with wings to fly. The children loved the props, and especially got a lot of compliments for my rendition of Perseus. "Awesome" was the word one kid used to describe my drawing of him! Who doesn't like accolade?! I just lapped it up and basked in it! I threw in a bit of Geography, showed them where Greece w

Kitchen table Ahimsa!

You must be wondering why, I'm weighing such heavy thoughts in my mind. It is stream which was activated by an article that I read in The Hindu, by Usha Jesudasen. She asks us how we practice Ahimsa at home, and goes on to say that Ahimsa is not some deep philosophy but is a way of life and asks us to examine our lives to see if we do practice it. She says it is not about renunciation, it is about sharing and caring. I quite agree with her. Ahimsa is non-violence in thought and action. In these times when there is such cut throat competition and violence you may think I'm anachronistic. Violence and aggression is an animal instinct. In fact the smile is a grimace of aggression that slowly evolved into this expression of recognition. I digress...Coming back to Ahimsa, I think we can learn from children. I remember my son was taking part in a running race during an event organized in our apartment. He had to run to a point, put on a T-shirt and then run back to the starting po

Acoustic (mis)adventure

I was approached to do a book review at the Bangalore book festival by a start up company. They do online publishing; authors publish themselves with the help of the company. New and raring to go. Concept is great; we have so many aspiring authors with no platform to launch them. This company will realise the dreams of many an amateur author. Coming to the event, it was the launch of the company name and some select books at the Bangalore Book Festival. They (the directors) soon realised that verbal acquiescence is no guarantee that your request will be carried out. The Festival organisers had promised them a place to launch their company and their books. But on that day, feigned ignorance!! So, this found one of the directors running from pillar to post looking for a place to set up the books and paraphernalia. Finally, the aisle which led from the entrance to the inside was given, 2 rusty tables were set up, and torn (serious, not jesting!), so called, white piece of cloth was s

The student Teacher!

It's amazing how adults listen to a story...! The same wide eyed look, mouth slightly open, maybe a smile, and the expectation... What does a story do to us? Does it unconsciously take us back in time, to childhood memories? Of grandmother telling us a story as she fed us, or maybe grandfather? An uncle, or an aunt. Mothers and fathers would not have donned that role, too busy, or following the golden rule that one does not "spoil and indulge" one's own children (the same rule would not apply to them when they become grandparents!!) I had another chance to tell a story to a group of teachers. It is interesting that teachers can become students in a flash. Or put in another way, "once a teacher, always a student"!! A very simple story about a boy and his teacher (obviously). The fact that we need to look at the others point of view, and not assume, nor go into a situation with our minds already made up. As a teacher I have been guilty of this error many a ti

The Pied Piper of Hamelin...

This Saturday at Easy Library my story was Pied Piper of Hamelin based on Robert Browning's poem. If you have read the poem, you will amaze at the imagery of the poet. Such play with words. A true master. I love the part where he tells us that the rats poured out of the houses, he uses all theses rhyming words, rustling ,bustling , hustling...children enjoy such verbal play of words. Then he says the children came pattering, chattering, clapping... again the children had no difficult understanding that there were small children running onto the streets. I had a stripped scarf and hat for the piper, along with a flute, to complete the image of the Pied Piper. I had made a top hat for the Mayor. Origami 4 cups and painted whiskers and ears/ eyes to represent the rats. As the rats poured out onto the streets, I threw them on the children. Here I found I had made a mistake, they started playing with the paper 4 cups. Luckily not for long, cos one child gave me the idea that as the rats

Come share this unique time with me...Dussehra

Today( 30th Sept.) marks the beginning of 10 days of celebrations for Hindus in India called Dussera. It overlaps with the Muslim festivities and austerities in the same holy month, called Ramzan. Every festival in India is associated with a story! That is the uniqueness of our collectivistic culture. Every festival is a reason for us to socialise, with neighbours with family and with friends. There is more, every region will have a different story to tell for the same festivities!! Some times the story remains the same but the embellishments will be unique to that area/region. So also Dussehra/ Dussera ( pronounced as duh-seh-ra), also known as Navarathri (meaning 9 nights) has two stories associated with it. In Northern India it is celebrated for the victory of the legendary king Rams' victory over the demon King of Lanka, Ravan (which is the story of Ramayan). In Southern India, the story associated is totally different. Here the 9 days marks the fight /battle between t

Versespace 6:Three pairs of eyes...

Three pairs of eyes follow me as I walk down the road lined with trees, Three pairs of eyes, with innocence, follow me as I walk down the road lined with trees. Each a copy of the other, of varying heights though. The eldest pair of eyes walks with a smile on her face, The second with a grim one, The youngest has no walking to do as he is of the princely age of carriage! My eyes follow them too, As mother, daughters' and the little son in arms walk the road lined with trees. Where do they go every morning? I wonder. Such a picture they make. The eldest in front, mother and son behind, and the straggling second, Goaded by the elder to hurry up. Neatly kept, they are always well dressed, little son with socks and scarf, Daughters with skirt and top one day, a salwar on another, hair combed and braided. Where do they go every day? So tiny they are, like miniature soldiers, they follow in perfect discipline. Marching one behind the other, or the other behind one, down the road lined wi

Farewell Ladies!

Another chance to tell a story and I grabbed it, of course this time I was thrust into it. The ladies club wanted a story. With humour, a little about the air force, and a farewell note as well, said the senior lady who approached me. Tall order. A challenge, as I have not told a story to an adult crowd before. The first point, of course, is: what story? So that saw me searching and searching and searching... No luck! Desperate now, I came up with my humour (corny) but then we can only laugh at ourselves. So I thought of conferring a degree and an award on the ladies! The degree of the triple "B", and the AVSM. Whats that? Triple B is awarded for having the Beauty, Brain and Brawn. Ladies in the air force are known for their beauty(ahem!!), and Brain, where else do we need to dish out 5 star fare at dabba rates (that's what I hear from my husband so often!). Didn't get that? That needs explanation: you see we ladies plan the ladies club parties, every second month a

Disability awareness through stories

A little experiment and I am glad I did it. I was asked to show sign language at my daughter's school, which got extended to a small 40 minute programme on Disability and how children can help. I knew this was a group of 3rd, 4th and 5th std children and the best way would be ... through a story( I truly believe in the power of a story!!). I Googled and as expected, got a wonderful story. Just the brief outline. But that was enough for me. I added relevant details and drama, and there was a tale for me to tell about a disabled Giraffe who is ridiculed and made the odd one out as he could not dance with his knobbly legs. He is then helped by his tiny friend, the Cricket, to come out with his own unique way to do a new dance, by choosing another song, a slow one. So the Giraffe creates the Swaying Dance! The children really appreciated it, and what I could not have conveyed but just stating facts, I could convey through the story. It is about using the abilities we have, instead of

My adventure with books

I started reading books very early, partially due to the fact that I had an elder sister who used to read a lot, and with a gap of only 1 year and 10 months, I was constantly trying to ape her, or do the exact opposite! My mother too used to read and I guess that could have contributed to this insatiable desire for reading. Of course I cannot deny the influence my school had on my reading habits. Starting with Kitty and Rover in LKG, Sishya school encouraged us (my sis and I), to read. I still remember our library teacher,very strict, who used to get very annoyed if she saw us folding the corner of our books to keep the page! She would keep a track of who was reading which book and encouraged to read beyond our age if she saw fit. And I was Fit!! No comics in our school library( at least I don't remember seeing them), only loads and loads of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and I forget the author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! I even remember my library teacher's name,Mrs

Puppets on display!

Here are some of my puppets for you all to see. As i had said earlier, I like working with paper. I am not much of a puppeteer and most of my puppets are used as props. The difference is that with puppets, they themselves play the role while the puppeteer takes the role behind, whereas i keep them with me as an illustrationwith me, mostly. I love my story box for Rupa story, and know that it is a super hit. Bhasmasura is the big puppet, while Enormous croc., is a paper cover puppet. Simba is cloth and paper. Mahishasuramardhni is a stick puppet show( I thank my friend Priyanka without whom that story could not have been done.). So enjoy and use your creative juices to come with wonderful stories.

Story at Crossword bookstore

So "Simba the lion learns to roar", was the story for this Saturday. A wonderful time for me and the children. Hand puppets transported us to the jungle. Through this adaptation of a story,of a lion cub who finds his roar only when he faces danger, I tried to make the children more aware of their inner strength. That we can do what we want when the time is right and when we are ready for it! This was followed by a paper lion puppet making session. All in all, a super time for me and my kids. I must thank my nieces here, for totally taking care of my son, who dislikes sharing me with the audience. So my friend(my son!) wants to sit on my lap during the session, or he constantly bombards me with questions, so i am unable to proceed, and don't know whether i am coming or going! Luckily. this time I had help and as he was not there, i could concentrate on the story. The opposite goes for my daughter who gets so thoroughly involved in the story and activity, that I can say sh

Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

Just yesterday i had written that i liked to tell Indian stories, so you must be wondering why I am here talking about a phoren one! You see Roald Dahl is so doable !! His stories have all the action, drama, and magic that Indian stories have and the animal characters can become anyone you know, that makes it easier to show to children. Enormous Crocodile, for those who have not read the story, is about a nasty croc. who likes to eat children. Gruesome , i know, but then i start my session by telling the children that such things dont exist and a story is a story.( I know some pragmatists can be up in arms that I am filling children up with nonsense, but then does everything have to make sense? Let them enjoy the nonsense, says moi .). Irresponsible!! Most of my puppets are made with paper, the medium I prefer, and I combine this with voice modulation. The second time I did this story, it was like a puppet show, and the children liked it even more. All of them crowding to try their

Bhasmasuran- Fun to tell

The story of Bhasmasuran and Mohini is generations old, most probably its origin can be traced to the Mahabharatha ( I am not sure) but I know a very similar story does exist in it. Any way this story is one of my favourites, (published by NBP, Nehru Bal Pusthakalaya), an old copy exists with me. (Just going off the track, want to mention how we thamizh, like our spellings well rounded, any one else will spell Bhasmasuran as Bhasmasura, and Pustakalaya as Pustakalay...but i just cant do it!!) Now, where was I? Yes, I enjoy telling this story, for which I have made a pretty Mohini puppet with paper and a large Bhasmasuran with thermocol, wool and paper. He actually looks funny, rather than scary. That's how I wanted it. Its done the rounds so is slightly worse for wear, but, the story enthralls my audience, who love the end. Indian stories are so much fun to tell. An interesting site that you can check out to get some Indian stories, shlokas is Raja Thathas corner. Very interestin

about storytellers and storytelling

Sorry to have flooded one and all with some terse verse! I resume my musings on the art of storytelling. Story telling as you all know is an ancient art, and in India the oral tradition dates back to thousands of years. Even as far back as 15 to 20 years back grandparents were available (on demand!) to tell stories, ranging from religious to ribald. Now too, stories are told but not by humans, conveniently we have been replaced by electromagnetic waves. Shove in the CD or the VCD and and children stay put for an hour or two. Believe me I do it too, so I am not here to criticize anyone, my idea is to take you to the world of the story teller and try to project, how different the same story appears in the hands of an adept story teller. So in this context I want to introduce you to an organization, unique in its role of training storytellers. Kathalaya is in Bangalore and they train interested personnel, from all walks of life, in the art of storytelling. After that the world is your st


Goa in October1999 Lush green, meets our eyes Is this our India, land of grime? Inescapable, Panaji though is Hot and humid, dirty and dusty. Resort life we wanted no part of As we set off to explore Goa. Boarded the bus for there to see Churches and beaches, and Portuguese! A different world, a foreign one Of roadside altars and feni bars. Ladies in frocks, and men in shorts Funny alien guise for an Indian visage! Famous churches, more famous beaches In different hues and different shades. Some red and sandy Some rocky and gray Here white skins frolic in gay abandon While brown skins watch with quiet amusement! Honeymooner's paradise Explorer's delight! Sunset cruise on the Mandovi Ringing music on turbulent waters. Where mountains meet water, Without bars nor barriers. Where blue skies merge With green and glossy foliage. Here lies such naked beauty Here lies such virgin purity. An enchanting time, an enchanted world. But will it remain for future generations the same?


Vijayanagar/Hampi:October 2000 The Royal Rayas and their splendid kingdom Spread over the valley of Tunga in great abundance. From Vittala to Virupaksha From Lotus Mahal to Bhima's Gate. We amazed at the expanse, We admired the extent. Kings and Queens, Ministers and Subjects Once tread this soil Shared the ground we stand! Oh! For those romantic times; Of poetry in stone Of language in art Of wars won and lost Of lovers new and past. Of rulers who become monarchs Of maids who become queens. We were transported in time, standing amidst the ruins, Thinking thoughts of the splendor...and the fall. Wondering at the enormity, saddened by the pall. Would I go back in time Not at all....maybe?!!

versespace:3- Payanangal: Ajanta/ Ellora

On our trip to Ajanta/ Ellora : April 2000 Ajanta and Ellora Opened up like Pandora's To reveal beauty in stone. Caves and Hollows. Mortar and Clay. Pillars and Statues. Tempera and Lime. Tools of ancient clime Toiled, to capture time. Preserved forever on mountain walls By faithful monks working with awls. (Dare we create such magnificence now?)

versespace:2- Toddlerhood

again repeated twice over !  None prepared , Not all ready.  She jerks me out of complacency!  No more late mornings  No more breakfast in bed  She'll wake you in the wee hours  Howling to be fed! Its like being hit by lightning  Swift and shocking!  And our toddler is way ahead Shoving and pushing.   Move over things You are all not to be spared!


Written for my first baby, echoed on arrival of the second too !  The anticipation at the begin' continues within....  Thoughts of you my baby Encompass me like a blanket.  A time, I cherish, this bond, These special moments.  Are you mine? I wonder.  This is the beauty of nature  The marvels of creation.  Cliches for sure, yet for each  An inexplicable experience Unique.  This cozy haven,for you,  Created in me, to hold,  Till you are ready to face us,  Stay there little one safe and sound  Because, you are not yet, to meet the world!

Writing stories

Now lets talk about writing a story, that's a totally different ball game. Many of us have stories inside us, waiting for the right audience to release it! Blogs are wonderful spaces for clandestine writers like me who fear feedback so much, we cant share it. It took a lot of courage on my part to release it to my audience, and I am glad I don't have to face them. One needs to be inspired or suppressed enough to write! You may wonder at this dichotomy, but I know it holds true. I draw inspiration from Sudha Murthy, yes our own Goddess of Good! Silly name but I say it with fondness, because I have personally benefited from her goodness, and any one who I keep on the pedestal and I am in awe of, I call Goddess! I happened to read her book, " How I taught My Grandmother to Read and other stories" Simple, lucid and direct, to the point that I felt I could have written each and every one of them. I dedicate my amateur efforts totally to her! She takes very ordinary, day t

getting that story right

Choosing a story is no easy job. There are thousands to choose from and thousands of ways to interpret it too.I like to choose my stories keeping the the climax in view. But it is tough. The story has to strike that chord, otherwise as a storyteller I cannot be convincing enough. I like my stories to have an element of fun, suspense or adventure and mostly what appeals to me is fantasy! Having grown up on a solid foundation of Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews and Hardy boys, its no surprise that what appeals to me are stories with all these elements. Children of course enjoy the unpredictable, a twist, a googly, a suspense. I have not yet found a good suspense story that can be narrated.... Every story that I have done till now has a plot, which I feel is essential to spark that creativity in children. It should have a beginning, which is an introduction of the main characters, followed by a mission or the plot, culminating in its success or defeat, the end. Not all story tellers follow this


Passion, conjures up images...steamy ones definitely! You can say it in different ways and every time you express the word, the meaning, intention,depth can be altered. Why spend so much time talking about this word?...Its a train of thought triggered off by my friends comment... A person is lucky ( or so it is said) to get into a vocation that one can be passionate about. I guess I can make the choice to be passionate about the job I do, or I can take a job that I am passionate about. But how many of us have to relegate our passion into the hobby zone and do a job that is rooted in the realistic world( I assume our passions are in the creative, more dreamy zone!) I happened to meet Mr.V of Story trails, who has converted his passion for travel and stories into a lucrative business. He spent 15 minutes talking about the concept behind his passion, and I envy his ability to convert ideas into reality! What a niche market,he has sought, and takers are aplenty. And why not, where enterta

fun factor

Any one can tell a story, what makes it special is how the story teller intergrates the audience into her story. As long as I am in front of my audience, I make eye contact with each and every one of them ( I try to atleast). Ask them questions and use them as my sound board. Children love it.They enjoy the freedom the story teller gives them, to express what the feel, at the same time the thrill that whatever they say will be used within the story is a great energiser. I can feel the audience going through the range of emotions that I express in the course of a story. Of course that makes me come to the point that the story is the most important part of the experience, however animated or expressive the story teller may be, the story has to appeal to your age group. One thing about children is that they cannot be easily fooled. If the story teller does not have a good script, then the reaction of the audience will be quite contrary. Thinking on these lines I have to tell you my exper

inspire a story

Story telling is part theatre, part history, part education... a visual media. It differs from other forms of theatre, in the way we present it. The interaction between the audience and the teller is an integral part and important part of the process. The script changes with every performance, depending on the inputs that the audience gives us. So the same story can have many variations. My first story was 'Rupa the Elephant.' We had to prepare a story as a part of our certificate course at Kathalaya. I wanted it to be 'Rupa', as I have told this story to my children a million times and know that it will be a sure shot hit. For me every story is a process...i think out the story, even if I have the book or story at hand I need to write(read that as -type, as we are in the computer age!) it out and then have my own script, and then prepare the props, add the sound effects and conclusions,etc... As I type out my story I visualise how to present the same to the children an

my first Puppet Show

I had great fun making my first puppet show,drew out the characters,colouring sticking,what a throw back to childhood times. All that latent creativity in me pouring out! I made Stick puppets,and the story was from mythology-Mahishasuramardhini, and it was towards Navrathri, so an apt theme. I had a friend helping and we put together the show. A screen , sutradhar puppets to start off the story, a script too. Well with the internet at our beck and call, there is no dirth for information, enter, type, scroll and click, you have all that one can want!! So thats how I made my script( there the secret is out), based on Abu's Navrathri. I wanted to include all the elements, a small model of the "Golu padi", even a tiny Kalasam!! Abu and Amma chatting away, about why we celebrate golu, and the differences between North Indian and South Indian customs.This was followed by the stick puppet show...simply great. We took it around Bangalore city, Crossword book store, Easy lib, and

once upon a time...

one of the first things we do in storytelling is recollect and recount our own childhood stories, a web of memories captured on paper, not with words but through pictures. it could be a simple drawing, but that which triggers off memories of that incident. i made my chart with a lot of enthusiasm but now it lies forgotten on some old shelf, to be discovered by moths and lizards. It was fun going down memory lane and trying to capture yourself on paper, i think my children enjoyed it as much as i did! Try it, its a lot of fun.