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No, Vasundhara is not my real name. I am breaking it in for a friend!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What does not infect us, makes us 'Invictus'

'Lower the sails', 'roll with the punches', call it what you will. It remains a will so strong, a determination so dogged, a strategy so surreal, that it renders the soul invictus. Here's to that spirit, the thought, that resolve. 

Lines by W.E. Henley. True yesterday, true forever.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may beFor my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstanceI have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of chanceMy head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tearsLooms but the Horror of the shade,And yet the menace of the yearsFinds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,How charged with punishments the scroll,I am the master of my fate:I am the captain of my soul.

~William Ernest Henley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus)

Monday, April 20, 2015

And so it goes, for so, they say

“And so it goes, for so say we“, said they, of soft words, harsh intent.
“And so it goes, for so say we“, said they, o' what deviants!
They strike with their notes, and crop all advances,
They smite with their silent shrills, piercing glances.

“And so it goes, for so, say we”, bode well, can it, when tis only their prances?
~ of the mystic, mundane, and everything in between | April 20, 2015 | 2200 hours IST

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hold Fast Ye Not

Hold fast, and you realise,
you will smother me;
Let me be, and lo,
you see, I may tread the periphery.

Hold fast, and I am woebegone;
Care for you not, care for none.
If you though will let me fly,
I will forever stand by.

Hold fast, and you render me anon.
Hold fast, and there, I am gone.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's only words...

Here is a short piece I had put together for a MOOC I have enrolled for. It is called "storytelling for change".
The intent of this was to pick one area of Life, and talk of how it has shaped up over a period of time. The best part was, it was open-ended and therefore, invited various interpretations. This is one of mine:

Words are my calling…ever since childhood they have drawn me.
There I was, an exuberant child learning to speak her first word; soon a standard one student who hung on to every word the class teacher said; several years after, the young girl who would pick up at least two new words per day…and always a child at heart, amazed at the stories that would reveal themselves unto me…be it through my family, friends, strangers, or other things, also people, more silent.
This quest for words, paved way for the insatiable thirst for writing and reading. It did set me on this irreversible and never-ending path of stories, big and small. Writing to me, was cathartic. It helped me connect, with myself, and the world around me. All this kept adding up.
Over the years that I have lived, words have stirred me, in ways both good and bad. Words have played havoc in my head; they have offered Hope, both false, and true; they have kept me going, and made me pursue, a lifetime of experiences. And they still are…by way of collaboration for storytelling…opportunities to contribute to our lesser-fortunate brethren…even self-discoveries, including my journeys within, and without…
Stories are one the many ingredients of our lives. We experience the magic of words, stories, and storytelling, in ways big and small.
I too do, and try to draw from them to shape other walks of my life.
Through this life map (in the form of a mind map), I attempt to capture, the whys and the wherefores of my never-ending and indefatigable love of, as well as, for, words.
Planning to share some such outcomes of this MOOC, esp. post the course, here, on my blog. Welcome your thoughts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The amazing world of stories

It was another Saturday, yet, full of promises of a bright day ahead.

A story was awaiting its turn to be revealed, to be told to a bunch of 80 enthusiastic and
mischievous children from class 7. On the occassion of International Literacy Day , Pratham
Books aimed to reach out to children across India and the globe, by way of storytelling...in
several languages.

There are a lot of us, and especially our children, who are inclined, yet, oblivious to the world of
books, of education. None of us, however, are oblivious to the amazing world of stories.

One such, called "Paplu Rakshas" (Paplu the Giant), was what I had taken upon myself to share with these bubbling handful. These 80 children, at the very sight of artoicles for activity (chart paper, packets, bags in my hand), began to scream, "teacher, when will you give the chart papers to us? Are there colours for us this time, too?"

After managing to quiet them down, without lowering their eagerness, I explained to them how would we go about the story and activity.  And so began the story of Paplu the Giant...

80 inquisitive, exuberant children listened to me, hanging on to every
word I read to them, aloud. Catching on to every nuance, intonation,
and question. They raised their hands to answer questions, they
shouted out loud to mimic an imaginary Paplu. The story was letting
them be, the narration, setting their imagination free. With child like impatience, they began to predict what-happened-next-situations. They giggled. Their curiosity for the better of them.

Every response from them oozed creativity and their rich imagination egged them on to more. I
had planned for a lot of conversation in between the storytelling. It added to the narration. It
brough them close to the experience. Once the narration was over, they split themselves into

Restless hands began to look for colours, pencils, erasers. Deft fingers began to etch Paplu's sketch on to the chart papers. The verandah where I was conducting this session was abuzz with excitement and mumbles, in the same breath.

Once sketched, it was Paplu's turn to get dressed in newspaper dresses. Beautiful ideas,
vibrant colours, and witty explanations spread through the air. Each group stepped up to
"present" their creation to the rest of their classmates. With pride in their eyes, joy in their
hearts and smiles upon their lips, they displayed their work. 

Happy faces bowed to thundering claps of their friends, and said their good byes for the day. Here's to their spirit, and to the amazing world of stories.

Team Work

Clothing the Kind Giant

Paplu in Making
The children painted a picture from their mind's eye

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dreams Begin with Books: Of Book 2 and Book 3

I am extremely happy to share with you what became of the other 2 books: Book2 and Book 3.
Ref. for those of you, uninitiated: prev. post

10 rolls of chart paper under my arm, boxes of coloured crayons in my bag, and thoughts in my head, I walked today morning, my way to the local Govt. School- Higher Secondary; the class that would receive me with exuberance that defies all definition, class 7 (a & b). Read 80 children, noisy, mischievous, brimming with zest and willing to spare none with their fast ones!
The first thing that such spirited children do is, surround you, the minute you step into their class; and this lot followed the norm. Imagine 80.Now imagine 80, talkative, vociferous children.
Out came Book 2 and 3, 4, and the story telling session started. While I held 2 in my hand, they held 3 and 4.
As this was a “big” class- in more ways than one, they read it aloud too, and translated for their classmates- Hindi to English.
I told them, we are doing this for a bigger purpose. So after the story telling, they create their own stories. In groups of 8, they draw and write. They narrate theirs to the entire class.
What becomes of their work? They put up an exhibition (on May 18-11th being a holiday for them). Other classes, and their teachers see their work of art- and hear them narrate their stories.
It does not stop there, I told them. So they will tell it to their youngsters and siblings. Finally these stories make it to their school library.
And then they began- to draw, to think, to write…innocent squabbles over colours, stories, team mates…
We are all like these children, always trying to be heard; hoping we find like-minded people for many such collective works.
A glimpse of the topics (they christened their stories): “friendship”, “the greedy dog”, “the thirsty crow”, “rain”, “the lion and the mouse”, “to cheat is bad”---to name a few. Each story had a moral that they read aloud. And their narration, breathtaking...and soul stirring.

Take a look at their work here

They made their storybooks , Pratham style.
Oh one should have seen and heard them draw, create and tell their stories;
And thus, Book 2 and 3 were put to good use. They have found their way to this school’s primary section library and that of another.

Also, they have served as idea givers for such activities in the respective primary sections.
Book 4 lies with me. What will become of it, will share with you.
The big picture: Once this kicks in, the idea is to visit this school once a month, or via other volunteers, get them to create books for exhibition and /or their library for the primary section. So, they are teaching---and helping their youngsters.
A word on children: They will always mean it when they walk up to you before you be in to leave for the day, and say, “we had great fun, and you will come again, will you not?”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dreams begin with Books

On a sleepy afternoon, I was running through my Twitter timeline, when I caught sight of something very interesting. A book-in-every-hand initiative by Pratham Books.

As someone who feels fortunate to be introduced to books as a child-and who always saw her parents and most in the family reading, it came to me, almost like second nature- this initaitive had me hooked.

I have taught children from several strata of our society; children who have not had it fair, and so on. So books and children, two creations of the Maker, very dear to me...and "what can I do", it had me thinking.

And as they say, it is not the magnitude, but the very act of having done the deed that matters the most. Each one of us can make a difference, in our own small ways.

So here I was, with four books (cut out from today's edition of Hindustan Times) ...here is what they looked like- after i added a cover to each.

While I have three books with me, here is what the first one (Book 1- for ease of ref.) achieved.
Planning to share what becomes of the other three books. If you have that copy of HT lying somewhere in your house, may be you too want to do something about it.

Book1: Given to my maid. Narrated the story to her. In her late teens, she is a class 4 drop out.

Her reaction: Smiling all through. Responsive to colour names. She speaks Bengali...so we were talking about different names for colours.. example: brown or bhoora (in Hindi) or maatiya (mitti ka rang) //translation: colour of mud-the Earth// ...when it ended she said, "acha hai, bahut acha hai". //translation: nice, very nice//
Big smile flashing upon her face. eyes gleaming.
And said, "ye tou bilkul kitab lag rahi hai" //translation: this looks exactly like a book//. She did ask me why was I getting four copies of the same paper...and said "oh tou aapne isliye liya tha". //translation: oh, so this is why you bought it//

Spreading the joy: She will hand them over to her bua's (father's sister) children. this, after she narates it to the children in her locality--- her cousins go to school and she says she will in turn get them to narrate it to other children in their school, and with whom they play in the park!

I so do Hope, this happens...she said it like she means it.

... of Life's simple joys...