About Me

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

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...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Life's A Poem: 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

Lot Five, people...
2 more to go for the challenge (will post them to this one later), and then I have to pick the five I will table for the challenge. If you are reading, you may want to vote.

April 25

“Everyone (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: “Everyone Thinks I’m Crazy,” “Everyone Knows the World Is Round,” “Everyone Needs to Leave Me Alone,” or whatever it is that everyone is doing (or not doing).
Everyone needs a good laugh
Of chuckles, and giggles
And mischief that wriggles,
Its way out of sober facades;

Of peals, and guffaws,
That know, no pause,
Are Life’s countless Joys, and its rhythms.
May start with a fake, a moment it takes,
To catch on, and spread like Fire wild.

And that rancour runs out,
To see laughter sprout,
Dare not it come near, Life’s mirthful child.

April 26

A casting poem. Casting can take on several meanings, including casting a spell, casting a line (such as in fishing), casting the actors in a play, and I suppose even the act of creating a cast.
Casting a Die
When He casted you, you were hollowed,
And sent.
Upon the Earth, you travel on rent.
Your cast was trashed, you are unique,
So give up pretences, stop being oblique.

That hollow, you will, fill in with your choices back here,
You pick up what you want, or are given, for fear.

It’s never too late, to start walking tall,
There is oft’ one window, to reverse it all.

Kick the non-positive out from your hollow,
Nothing, more than a fickle will, is shallow.

Impressions you choose, will, your journey here, last,
Never give up, for someone thinks your die has been cast.

April 27

A mechanical poem. Either you’re mechanically-inclined, or you’re like me and hit things to make them work after they break (which, by the way, rarely works).

Mechanically Yours
Well, it is,
As you may see,
Without you, I will go free.
It is with you, that they tied me here,
It is with you, and its Fate’s decree;

I see, said his lady love,
And cannot without you pull or shove.
I need you to hold me tight, so that I can slip alright,
I want you, just as you want me O,
Without you, I am lifeless, a line.

“It is when you wind yourself,
Along my rim, I appreciate more of myself.
Together, we balance it so well,
Should we miss, it dispels.

And so said the pulley to the rope,
“Oh Dear, I am forever, mechanically, yours”.

April 28

Write a shadorma. For those new to the shadorma, it’s a fun little 6-line poem that follows this syllable count: 3/5/3/3/7/5.

And he says
Even if he dreads
He does say
For she may
Agree with his words now so he
Tells his mother so

April 29

You call me complex, when I uncomplicate

Simple, as simple can be
She untangled their misery
But when it came to her
They failed to be astir
And so they said, she is complex
That she had no reflex
Yet what they failed to see
Is their own apathy
To someone so simple,
As simple can be

April 30

Two for Tuesday
·         Write a finished poem.
·         Write a never finished poem.

A Never Finished Poem

Every morn you pick a line,
And leave a page to read,
For every day, Life holds, a new possibility,
A story or song,
That goes on so long,
Until you your enthusiasm last
It is called Life’s evergreen side,
Hope for some, and keeps you going,
From day to day, and yet another morn,
When you pick a line, to leave a page

Life's A Poem: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Here's lot 4 of the "a poem a day challenge". Have taken the creative liberty to attempt different shades.
Let me know what you think...

April 19

A burn poem. I actually wrote a poem titled “burn” earlier in this month’s challenge, so I’m going to have to think a little on this to avoid repeating what I’ve already written. However, burn can represent many things–from getting burned by a bad deal (or a friend) to feeling the burn when working out to physically burning from fires.

The Burnt Breakfast

On the stove, the pan was put,
The Fire kindling, jolly good.
In went a dollop of butter lo,
Not caramel, so the flame was low.
Aside she stood, beating two eggs,
With some milk in it, and pepper-salt to taste.
Beaten to a fluff, the batter went in,
Swish it let out, promising a crust not so thin!
The Fire still low, was burning bright,
The omelette cooked and hissed, to her delight.
She turned to the other flame instead,
On it rested two slices of bread.
And a fan of multitasking she,
Forgot the two flames in a glee,
Whilst she ran to switch the radio on,
The low flames kept burning on.
And while she tuned her station in,
She flipped through the morning paper too.
All this while she a picture quaint,
And the toast blackened, the omelette seared.
And when the smell of burnt food wafted across the room,
She ran to the stove, to watch them charred, and saw them to their doom!

April 20

Write a beyond poem. The poem could be beyond human comprehension. It could be from the great beyond. It could be from beyond–another city, country, planet, solar system, dimension, etc. Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond with it.

His Master’s Love- Beyond Common Belief

Will wag its tail, to see you home
Will follow you, despite the chide
All for one acknowledgement, for love.

He will wait for you to pet his coat
And will pounce on him who dares you so
He unconditionally loves you, and is always,
Believed to love you just for food

But He writhes at this misgiving, yes
Tis not food O! Master, tis never food
You feed my canine soul with love, And I
Reciprocate it, in double measure.

For your gentle fondness of my yelp,
My run to you when you ope that gate,
My mischief and every play-fetch date,
Your words to me, that you think I don’t get,
O Master, I do, every bit.
And that is what keeps me going,
All your words, and all your biddings,
Are for me, my reason to be,

And  that, my Master, is what I truly treasure.

April 21

Write a senryu. A senryu is like a haiku with less restrictions and different subject matter. It’s a 3-line poem with a traditional 5/7/5 syllable (or sound) pattern, and the poem typically deals with the human condition. But that’s about all. No cutting words, seasonal words, or focus on nature. In fact, many people who claim to write haiku are already writing senryu.

it rings and he checks
her number just wrecks
his sanity


April 22

A complex poem. Complex is a complex word that can refer to mental state, apartments, difficulty of a situation, and so many other complex situations.

And the world thinks I am a complex number

A+Bi is as simple as I can be
You say there are two sides to me
One real and the other imaginary
I help you solve some mysteries though
Of science, math, engineering and lo
You call me complex, when I uncomplicate
And help you understand the intricate!

April 23

Today is a Two-for-Tuesday prompt. In fact, this is one I include with every challenge. Here are your options:
·         Write a love poem.
·         Write an anti-love poem.

Anti Love (of laziness)

Arise, Awake, the Sun’s shining bright
With all its might, it pleads, be a sprite
For the world, and for your sake too
Don’t give in to lethargy, oh no, that is not what you are meant to do!
So stand up, and run, and listen and talk,
Ride you o! the waves, till you flock  
With like-minded souls, who know not laziness
With open hearts, who aim to spread happiness

April 24

An auto poem. Auto could mean automobile, automatic, automaton, or any number of possibilities.

Life in Auto Pilot

The music plays, and Nature whirrs,
What does your soul stir?
What stories, dreams and aims concoct,
Some ideas that your head and heart begot.
Few words uttered, those deeds done,
Some have a recourse, yet some undone.
It is not a bad thing, though,
To throw your worries, out of your window,
And watch yourself sail through it,
That’s Life, in auto pilot

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life's A Poem-18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13

April 13

A comparison poem. The poem could compare one person with another, or it could compare one thing against itself. Or it could take a comparable direction.

Fear versus Hope

One cripples, other tickles,
Your Life, and Dreams.
One hushes, the other pushes,
Your Voice, and You.
One bickers, while other flickers,
Your View, and Stance.

April 14

A sonnet. For those who are not familiar with the sonnet, it’s a 14-line poem that rhymes.

If you were me

If you were me, then you would see,
It is not easy, to display that glee.
To hold forth, on what the world shuns,
To trudge on, to stick to ones guns.
If you were me, then you would find,
It comes not easy, to be good to the unkind.
To smile in sorrow, not scream in pain,
To be more patient, nothing’s in vain.

And you will see, beneath that face,
Hides a soul that seeks solace.
And eyes that best can con you, yes,
To believe all is good, when the soul’s in distress.
And a smile, that cheats you to agree,
Here’s a jester, a gabber, who is so carefree.

April 15

An infested poem. There are many different infestations–from physical infestations to infestations of the heart and soul.

The Breaking Free of a Fear-Infested Soul
Chained to it, he crawled in pain,
Chained he was, did courage feign.
His words did often him betray,
He let them hold their sway,
For all that while, but now he knew,
That Fear infested souls do too,
Need to break the chain of pain.
And so he thought, so did practise,
With every day, with more chastise,
He dared the Fear away.
Then back it sprung, from depths so rare,
They yanked him back, and did him scare.
Then one fine day, he did resolve,
To let not that Dark Beast evolve.
With every might, he fought his plight,
And to his utter delight,
That fiend began to bite the dust,
And he began to gain in Trust.
With every passing day, it fled,
An inch first, and then a cinch it led,
To his victory over that ungainly beast,
That fled and was now begone,
To leave him woe-free, those chains undone.

April 16

Two-for-Tuesday prompt. Here are your options:
·         Write a possible poem.
·         Write an impossible poem.

An impossible Poem

Through day, and night,
Through joy and plight.
On anything plain, and topics mundane,
And on those complex.
Both deep and meaningless, in the same breath,
Gibber, gabber, talk, and blabber,
Connect, jest, stoke and ponder,
That song this, and topic yonder.
It knows not to remain still for long,
So it labours nonstop, oh yes, it does, that Tongue.

April 17

An express poem. This might be about an express train or express delivery. It might have something to do with expression painting.
Eyes, Smile, tears, and Cheers
Words, Silence, Praise, and jeers
anger, Love, Strengths, and fears
They are yours to put forth, for now, and years

April 18

Take the phrase “I Am (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “I Am Superman,” “I Am Wonder Woman,” “I Am Out of Nickels,” “I Am Running Low on Patience,” and so on.

I Am a Dreamer

Watch your words, and watch your steps
Hold that spite!
Shove that nay out of sight.
I thrive on you, your words and actions.
I feast on promises, on tomorrow, on Hope.
A strong Faith, can, a mountain move,
A potent Will, will all barriers remove

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Life's A Poem: 12,11,10,9,8,7

Here is lot two of the A Poem a Day Contest; to jog your memories: http://vasundharabahuguna.blogspot.in/2013/04/lifes-poem-654321.html

April 7 2013
A sevenling poem: 7-line poem that features two tercets and a one-liner in the final (third) stanza. The first two stanzas should have an element of three in them that can either play off each directly, work as juxtaposition, or have no connection whatsoever. The final line should work as either a punchline, weird twist, or punctuation mark.

What’s the day today? They echoed in tune,
The Sun, Moon, Stars, Skies, and Earth in one line,
Tis Third of June.

But ‘twas still May, to their dismay,
And some stars in Heaven still in Fray,
A few days more, till they held their Sway,

Yes! It works!! (This is the way.)

April 8 2013
An instructional poem. Your instructional poem could list instructions. Or it could capture an instructional moment.

You Choose
Despair for Hope, Darkness for Light- believe, smile
Bad for Good, Rude for Kind- understand, listen
Unfair for Fair, Sad for Happy- follow, try
Cowardice for Courage, Greed for Contentment- fan, satiate   
Lie for Truth, Plight for Might- holdfast, resolve
Flight for Fight, Slight for Right- lead, reason
Live for these, and you will find, there is Life beyond your daily grind
Every day, brings in its fold, a bit of rain, and Sun, and shine

April 9 2013

Today is a Two-for-Tuesday prompt. Write one of the following (or both):
·         Write a hunter poem.
·         Write a hunted poem.

The Hunter and the Hunted
In all of us, though what we say,
Lies a hunter and a waiting prey;
While that seeker surveys, aims and conquers,
The victim fears every step and ponders:
What will prevail, for one so frail,
Always doubting , always pale;
The hunter trounces that thought,
Hunted finding itself in a spot,
Looks inwards and with memories fraught,
Goes in hiding, where it best ought.

April 10 2013
A suffering poem. A person or animal in the poem could be suffering. The poem itself could be suffering.
The Razor Tongue and Unmoving Heart
Forced to bear it with silence, their piercing looks,
Unsure why;

So they talked to each other, to find reasons fair,
Always it was, though, on the sly;
“I’ll not wag”, she said to him, “And you try to not feel that pain”.
‘Twas a promise made, a deal sealed,
So the Tongue and Heart, their state concealed.
For years, they trudged on with that show,
Till the Tongue said to him, raising her left brow,
“We have suffered in silence all this while. Let us give up, not worth our while.”
The Tongue was sure, the Heart was scared,
From that moment, they began, they dared,
The Tongue, to lash at people fair, the Heart to seethe, its rhythm flared,
At every passer by, or him, who raised his voice (at them),
They did ensnare.
And thus, with every passing day, they learnt to live in dismay.
They knew their plight, with it could not part,To every other person though, they were the Razor Tongue and Unmoving Heart

April 11 2013
Take the phrase “In Case of (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles could include “In Case of Emergency,” “In Case of Oversleeping,” “In Case of Snoring,” or something else.

In case of Boredom
Read that book, try to cook!
Click a picture, money’s not a stricture.
Ride your bike, or opt for a hike,
Paint a scene, play that game, go fishing.
Paste that stamp, walk the ramp,
Jog to the nook, swim down that brook,
Dance to your tune,
Sing those notes, play that beat,
Hit the garden to prune!
Walk the road, talk to them,
Hobbies from such pastimes stem

April 12 2013
A broke poem. The poem could be about a broken record, broken relationship, or someone who is just flat broke (no money).

The Wrist Watch
The Father asked, “What gift do I bring, from there, to you my child?”
The child, as coy as a child can be, smiles, and knows no joy.
But does not speak, only motions through her head, no toy will do,
Oh Father, choose to come back soon, no gift I want, but you.
The Father smiled, and hugged his child,
He knew her well, that she beguiles.
No words were said, but thoughts exchanged,
And the Father brought back with him, a beautiful wrist watch, silver framed.
She knew no joy, to the door she ran,
The Father saw her, and began,
To unwrap the gift he brought to his child.
Slowly, as each layer opened, with excitement feigned,
She watched spellbound, and yelled in joy,
It was a watch, and not a toy!
It shone on her tiny wrist, the watch,
She wore it through the day;
And through the night, till she went to bed,
So to, the next few days.
Then one morning she ran to bather, with her gift upon her wrist,
Two dips later, she recalled, and her tender heart near split.