Tulika – A Children’ Books Publisher in Chennai

Tags

, , ,

As part of my Study Paper for my Journalism and Corporate Communication course at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, I had decided to write about Children’s Literature in India. Following which I had interviewed an illustrator, Editor of Children’s book and others in this line. Deeya Nayar of Tulika Publisher was kind enough to accept my request for an interview back in 2001. Much of my thoughts about publishing challenges of the Children’s book became an understanding for me during this interview.

Tulika’s books can be used as supplementary readers to the mainstream academic books. They have topics to complement and supplement subject books like English, History, Geography, Mathematics and Language learning tools. Tulika brings out both fiction and non-fiction books. “The non-fiction books are the most challenging ones,” says Ms. Deeya Nayar. They are challenging because of their role to represent real life facts in understandable and simple language.

Most of the books published so far, pays a lot of importance for moralistic teaching, value-based education. Parents expect the book to carry a moral at the end of any narrated story.  Tulika aims to counterbalance these attitudes by bringing out more books of Indian origin for Children and has a firm commitment to provide good quality books with proper text material and appropriate Illustration. The illustration plays a very important role for selection of a book for reading among Children. Ms. Nayar cites an incident like the time when a Child is allowed to browse through the library which is a rare occurrence and does not happen often. The child picks up books because it likes the illustration or an aspect in that book which captivates its imagination. The child would hold on to the books and would insist on buying that specific book.

“Books should not only be easily understandable but also have to challenge the child’s mind,” says Ms. Nayar. Working only within the vocabulary limit of the child, a writer may introduce new words, which could be contextually decipherable in the story for furthering the child’s vocabulary.

The Adults mostly select books for Children. Ms. Nayar feels, “the Parent should let the child go and allow it to select books on its own judgement.” Adults from their overprotective attitude scrutinise, and then, select a book based on whether it could be read by a child or not. Nearly 90% of the selections come under this category of Adult’s choice. Parents’ choose books with a moral or educational value. The pleasure of merely enjoying the book for its reading quality is not given an importance.

In treating serious issues for Children there is much caution employed by the publishing world. The sensitive subject has to be treated in manner that could be more easily understood by the Child without scaring them. The Child is usually more open towards new concepts than its Parent.

One such serious issue dealt concerning a current issues are published by Tulika under the section called ‘Think About.’ The subject dealt is current and taken from the environment that it constantly faces. Usually Children are protected from the hard truth of the world but the increasing exposure to riots and violence. It then becomes imperative that this information is disclosed to the Child without glossing over and with positive tones. The serious issues like Communal harmony, faith, special children and other Child affecting subjects; Tulika aims it for slightly older children, the 9 plus age group.

Books titled “Sorry, Best Friend” for the 9-10+ age group where Communal harmony is the subject dealt. The concept for the book has evolved from a workshop conducted in Delhi says Deeya. The stories in the book are compilation of the workshop’s outcome through interactive sessions between writers, illustrators and children. Book titled “One World” is again on communal harmony but on a global range. The book is where oneness among nations is dealt and for same age group. It contains stories, memoirs and activities.

“Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand?” is about acceptance of a child with impaired mobility. The Child is exposed to the idea that a disabled child is no different from itself and wishes to be accepted as their peers. This book is aimed at all age group and appears in simple and understandable verses.

Books like these are often a part of the curriculum and modify them creatively for ease in teaching the Child. These books could be used as a supplement to the curricular lessons and there by enhance the child’s learning.

Image Courtesy: http://www.tulikabooks.com/info/team

Magical World in Opium Induced State | Kubla Khan

Tags

, , ,

The background loop song for this piece is Aayat song from Bajirao Mastani movie by Sanjay Leela Bansali. I am trying to explore the world of Kubla Khan of Sameul Taylor Coleridge within the space of this musical piece.

In a way, I have memorized Kubla Khan much like a prayer and the magic of having first encountered this particular poetry remains with me to this day. I was in my 9th grade when I read this poem. At that age, I had just begun to write my own couplets and I was fascinated by the wildness of the poem.

My personal experience with the poem “Kubla Khan” is unique for the fact that my over imaginative mind was captured and encouraged to dream on. Much after the poem finished my mind would reel out images of on-going verses that Coleridge has missed out.

Alph river from its origin to its meandering down to the sea is such an exclusive experience for a dreamer like me. I usually see poems as visual effects. Even now when I think of my project for the Animation course, which was Kubla Khan poem’s visual representation; but sadly it didn’t come anywhere near what I was seeing in my mind.

That way I must say that nature part of the poem was extremely mesmerizing for my mind. I would be lost in the rhythm of the river in its course and the vibrancy of the river is such a wonderful moment to capture within my mind. The flash of images have been played into each counter points giving it the special touch.

I did try to intoxicate myself to write a poem so ethereal but failed miserably. My intoxication was a leftover wine bottle just put me to sleep and I failed capture any ethereal verses in the process. I am pretty clean person and don’t do substance abuse and I gave up after that total failure of intoxicating myself to write a poem.

But I am quite aware of the semi-aware state of consciousness. Given there is much past medicinal dose which had left me sleepy and half-aware, I was no stranger to being drugged.

Yet, when I learned that Coleridge got himself opium sedated for writing this poem, I was surprised that one needed to do drugs to be able to explore poetry. This poem in many ways explored my understanding at various levels.

I enjoyed the mystic nature playing subtle influences in the interpretation of the poem. The woman who is in love with a demon lover becomes an attraction factor which clearly defined the pitched mood for the poem.

The Woman with the Dulcimer is a magical touch that it mingles with the loop song that I am listening to in the present. The poem is combination of past memories and impressions.

Each time, I read this poem there is magic happening within me. I am looking at the cruel ruler who also has a woman who longs for him. The eeriness of the situation seems to give the poem an added flavor of uniqueness that beyond marvelous.

There was much in the poem that seems to have not been disclosed. I still think of the animation flick that I create was half-baked attempt to capture a poem which is completely a visual magic.

I’m Ok, You’re Ok and We’re all Ok!

Tags

, ,

My reading list over the three decades spans somewhat like this. This list is exclusively those books that I read about philosophy, religious practices, self-help books.

There was a time in my life when library was really important as a source of sustained strength. Books were my friends with whom I would agree or disagree. There is a search within me even now as I read books on spiritual realms.

  • “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale (read in 1988)
  • “Living with the Lama” by T S Lobsang Rampa (read in 1988)
  • “Education and the Significance Of Life” by Jiddu Krishnamurthi (read in 1989)
  • “I’m Ok, You’re Ok” by Thomas A. Harris MD (read in 1994)
  • “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life” by Thích Nhất Hạnh (read in 1995)
  • Books on Zen Meditation Quotes (read in 1996)
  • “Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma (read in 1996)
  • “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey (read in 1998)
  • “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda (read in 2011)
  • “God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization” by Paramahansa Yogananda (read in 2012)

This is a small list of books that has influenced my life. I must say I was shocked and surprised by Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s thoughts. I would keep turning those ideas in my head and try to understand it.

Given that I tend to over think a lot, it was very stressful for me to process his thoughts. But I enjoyed learning and always challenged my thought process in the exercises that place before my mind.

I recognized very early in my life that my thoughts were bringing me down. Mr. Peale’s book was just an accidental read; but from that point forward in life, I sought out books on self-help.

My reading expanded with every new author that I read. But my understanding levels were based on the level of my mind’s maturity. But then, I always had a sense of fairness in the things that I read.

But to this day, I would debate each thought that gets into my head. This habit is so set in me, that there is no book that I have read so far, with the exception of the fictions, has gone without being questioned.

My life as a series of books that influenced my mind, soul and spirit, would make an excellent walk in the clouds for a reader of my works. I absolutely enjoyed anything about God, Spirit, Well-being, Spiritual, Meditation especially Zen, and most definitely anything on Human and Spiritual love.

One of my heartfelt desires is to become a Zen monk. I have been aspiring since I found the Moon a spiritual companion during my hideout days as a teenager. I always had this confusion: “Am I good enough to be a monk?” Because I had this intense pleasure in little things and that is when I started to question the term called Monk.

So in that pursuit of becoming a peace-loving monk, I decided to be a common woman who searched for God in her private moments. I have touched that supreme calm about four or five times. I also had figured the way to be less agitated by artificially creating the meditative calm.

Things in the space of spiritualism are still in fluctuation within me. I am not unhappy about having volatile answers to spiritualism. But in the process, I have found, that “I’m ok, so are you and so are we all!

Magic of Fairy Tales a Lifetime’s Pleasure!

Tags

, , , , ,

Book Title: Fairy Tales From Around the World

Author: Andrew Lang

Translator: N/A

Rating:  4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | Snap-Deal |

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Andrew Lang was a poet and a journalist who through his works gifted book readers with so many well-known and unknown fairy tales. The author of these fairy tales worked more as a recorder of the stories taken from the available sources. His childhood influence for outdoors and topics connected with his interest areas have greatly influenced his works.

Story in a Nutshell:

Fairy Tales from Around the World have stories picked from his Color coded Fairy Tales books. It covers stories from Arabian Nights, Scotland, and other countries, thus giving it a rounded feel for stories about fairies and magic.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

It is really hard to like or dislike a book. I love fairy tales and given that I love to read stories that involve magic, this book was a treasure trove. Oral storytelling is really interesting to explore because all my childhood had been filled with some family member telling a story. All forms of moral at home was disguised in a story. So, it is not surprising that oral storytelling has become my greatest influence in my life. There was nothing to dislike in this collection thought now that I know there are lot more fairy tales written by Andrew Lang, there is a desire to read it all.

My Opinion

This book makes an excellent bedtime read. The stories are in its rough and ready state which gives it the spice of pleasure in reading them. There is something more interest about this fairy tales and that the element of magic and unbelievable pushing of truth. I would rather believe the blatant lies than have the fire of truth extinguish the magic of the moment in these tales.

Image Source: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fairy-tales-from-around-the-world-andrew-lang/1112044044#/

Pratham Books Champions Program 2017

Tags

I was searching for storybooks when I came across Pratham Books, a not-for-profit organization. Affordable books from Pratham Books are great material for teaching English for junior grades.

I love spending time with Children, especially, if there is a story folded into the interaction. This time I took up the Pratham Books Champions 2017 and enjoyed sharing stories and discussion with my wards.

My apartment children enjoy hanging out with me, as much as I enjoy spending time with them. Both my wards knew about my interest in stories and I tried to spice it up by telling them to wait for a funny story.

The day when the mailman brought the book and banner, my wards were hanging out with me at my living room having general conversation. I got to open the mail because it was in my name and the cat was out of the bag.

All the start dates were all forgotten when we all sat down to read the story of Kottavi Raja and his Sleepy Kingdom written by Yasaswini Sampathkumar and illustrated by Henu. We didn’t stop at merely this story but read rest of my collection of Pratham Books that I use as teaching material. Well, sometimes the best way to get stories to children is not bound by time or space.

But the interesting part was the conversation that followed on completing the story. I always believed in having conversation with children, where they are the adult and equal to express their views. Yeah of course, conversation can be riddled with the Child’s quirky perspectives too.

In that way, books from Pratham allows a teacher to creatively use their material in the class for maximum impact and knowledge transfer. But sometimes, I am surprised about the learning the teacher gains in sharing stories. I think stories told for Children are a two-way channel. The experience of sharing a gaff together is in a way a great space to explore.

Of course, they busted my well planned structured reading by their extempore let jump in and read the book now attitude. I am the least bit worried that my plans became tomato ketchup in front my wards’ exuberance. The point was about sharing one story one day.

Image Source: http://blog.prathambooks.org/2017/08/the-pbchamps-programme-is-back.html

The Diverting History of John Gilpin | My Take

Tags

,

Whenever I am not well, I go in search of a poem that would move my mind. If that particular poem turns out to be a humorous one, then I believe I’m set for recovery. I happened to like the early 19th Century poets for their raw sense of humor.

I always thought working with humor is rather difficult, especially in poems. Poetry for me is like breathing. I don’t know when my desire to read moved toward creating my own poems. I think it was an almost natural transition for me. But I was the most surprised person!

Among the various humor-filled poems, The Diverting History of John Gilpin by William Cowper was at Ek level up with the others. I think I fell a little in love with John Gilpin, even though he is one-woman-man, who never made it to his wedding anniversary dinner.

What really makes for a good humor filled poem? I have asked this question many times and every time, my answer would be the element that builds up the humor.

In my imagination, John Gilpin was slightly on the heavier side of England’s rural milieu. Add to his unfailing attempt to please his wife without questioning his own ability in accomplishing feats for her.

So the poet slowly builds up on the moment of making the entire poem a pleasurable experience. The initial main characters fine-tunes to just the horse and John living the experience of a run.

There is much that was pleasing and comical about that hilarious ride. There is something about how world sees things and how they take it. Everyone believed that John is participating in a cross country race while John alone knew about the fear chemistry between him and his friend’s horse.

John is even keeled sense of humor give it a perfect camouflage for his good humor. The poem could have been done with just one side run; but the poet got extra gaffs from sending John back to his house resulting his missing his wedding anniversary dinner with Mrs. Gilpin.

Humor is really unique where sadness brings the prettiness of things in a poem. I found that very few poets actually achieved it. I have been working on my humor for quite some time, only to settle down to fact that it would be dark humored.

Image Source: https://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/caldecott-randolph/gilpinsrideillustrationfr.html

Prince of Persia – A Wow Movie!

This English movie is exceptional though not so colourful as Indian movies. So when I saw the Prince of Persia dubbed Tamil version, I still felt the same magic.

The time and place holder is needed for this movie. Around 1 pm on one free Saturday, I believe the movie began in a channel that my father was randomly watching before IPL games.  I was not even aware of it…since I was busy rangoling the prayer space.

But one word from the announcer stopped me midway through my task. ‘A long time ago’ …that is more than enough to stop me from almost anything. I love stories and if they are real-life stories told by people who can tell a story well I am caught, stumped and clean bowled.

I love fantasy and anyone can murder me in the interim that I am listening to one. Surely, I will not put up a fight. Story makes me come alive and my imagination can play riot…that was one of the reason that I took Literature against all opposition.

As novel upon novel piles upon my reading desk as I explore the imagined world. This world I believed in while I was reading the book is true for me until I finish the book. But there are rare moments when the magic of the book remains way after the reading session came to an end.

I remember seeing this movie in US on a Friday evening on Netflix. God was I a happy soul? For the next few hours…Yes I was and now in dubbing I was again totally taken in. The story was the main hero of the movie. It is a commotion of movements and the camera is never still. It was a wonderful spell-binding movement of special effect and gymnastics filled action.

A mysteriously magical knife that reverts time, a princess trying to save the world from total annihilation, a hero who is street smart, a villain who excelled in villainy, the right mix for a story and add dash of some fantastical elements, you have a winner for my pleasure.

I have been opened to all forms of stories but almost since 2001 internship at Chandamama I have been taken in by folktales, fairy tales…but no I am wrong…even to this day I know the physical feeling in my stomach when it was Saturday evenings around 4-5 pm when Doordarshan would telecast Grimms fairy tales by Faerie Tales theatre company with some basic baby step in special effects.

I also remember the Frog Prince in which Robin William played the role of the frog…it was supercool. I love stories where things happen magically and there is a villain who is cardboard villain. To this day, I still don’t know why I am interested in tall tales. I remember an aunt who would tell me story so she could feed me quickly…the summer round of moonlight food with all the cousins. I believe we are all taken in by stories.

When I read Silas Marner by George Eilot, for nearly one fourth of the book it was very slow moving and I was struggling to get into the inner rhythm of the story but once the skeleton was discovered I was all perked up and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. So who was that person who has left behind a trace?

I started filling in for the novel as I was reading. Mystery is a sure-fire way to get me wondering and solving the issue in a story. Maybe a part of me is still old-fashioned and not ready for more advanced present day story. I used to read book on violence and secret army officers who are sent on mission that are high priority and high risk ones.

For me, I love to read about mysteries, action in moderation, romance in loads and suspense in galore.

Poster Credit : Wikipedia

Dwelling in the Simple Minds of Religious Fractions

Tags

, , ,

Book Title:  Silas Marner

Author: George Eliot

Translator:  N/A

Rating:  3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  N/A

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

George Eliot is the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, who was a popular novelist of the 19th century. As a writer, she was more inclined towards topics related to religion and she has explored the various interpretations; while holding a more radical view on the subject. Her novels play on plot events and its human reaction to religious rules that get violated or modified for individual use. Evans’ life was filled with not being accepted by her people and she gained some acceptance from her written works which was a small relief from the disowning she had faced for her belief system. As a radical writer, she comes out with some really appealing books that I enjoyed reading.

Story in a Nutshell:

Silas Marner was a weaver by profession with a dark past that has taken away his belief in a just God in his known world. His only activity was to weave and to sell his product with minimal human interaction. His aspiration after he had collected couple of gold coins was to increase it. He gets obsessed with the gold coins, that it to an exclusion of all other things. This Gold gets robbed, which shakes his sense of security and being subjected by God to an unjust second verdict on his life.

On New Year’s eve Silas finds an abandoned child in his home. He first mistakes it for his gold; but then, warmth of the golden curls of the child wakes his sense of being among the living. The girl child becomes his sole support and getting recognized as an agreeable person for the society around him. From the time of the Child’s presence in his life everything changes for Silas.

The story revolves around the various Characters struggling with their issues and belief systems. The religious thoughts that are found in two different places becomes a comparison grounds for religion based discourse through the characters’ thought process. How the issue of faith and questioning of it is handled by the author is the most enjoyable part of the novel. There is much that gets analyzed using the Characters as a main members contributing to the issue of faith.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

The one thing that I liked about this novel, was the fact that, the author was willing to question practices that were not scientific. There are much radical thoughts, that get introduced in the process of the plot progress. I loved the fact that the author questions some of the thoughts held in the religious ground without stampeding the general accepted sensitivity of the age in which the author lived in and interacted. But given that, it was written in the early days of radical questioning days, I feel the novel is made of great stuffs for intellectual wondering even in the present day intellectualizing.

One thing that I disliked about this novel, was the fact that, the author didn’t have to raze the Lantern Yard to non-existence. It was an easy way out by removing the entire place and leaving just the prison alone. There was much that could be explored if the place had remained.

My Opinion

The plot seems deceivingly simple but it isn’t. Silas Marner is the central figure around whom the entire story revolves. Silas has epileptic attacks which leaves him in an unconscious state for some duration was a great place to explore. The author plays around the medical condition which was interpreted as an unnatural interference from the divine or the devil in varying degree of interpretation. This sets the stage for the entire novel in many ways. The odd practice of deciding using a lot was an actual practice was surprising; but quiet fresh understanding. As a radical read, I found this book very interesting to intellectualize in my mind.

Image Source: http://www.loyalbooks.com/book/silas-marner-by-george-eliot

On the Wings of a Butterfly | A Hope!

Tags

,

Life is always about perspective. There is much joy in observing the world from various angles. I feel the best view is yet to happen in my life. In search of such a view, I keep my heart in a state of baited breath, which is held within me.

There is much to be spoken about dreamscapes and when these dreams happen I feel an intense longing for more. One such frequent dream is when the flight happens on the wings of a butterfly. I hold on to the slippery wings only to be colored by the spectrum of the wings’ colors.

The view is from the upper cut perspective. Sometimes, they are sharp and sometimes, they are far off. The littleness and greatness of things become clearer as the dream progresses. I happily fall for the spell of the moment.

Then, when flying over the vibrant river, it becomes a pleasure to trail my fingers on the flowing water. The night and the moon for company, I become a formless spirit who is in communion with nature.

The finer points of the view from a butterfly’s wings are when the view tilts, dips, swings, sways in any which way. The landscapes pass by in varying speed, thus making the experience magical. There is much that happens within the dream.

Sometimes, life’s issues are also best to be seen from varied angles. The dreamer within me keeps seeing positives in all situations. There is insulation around the sensitive mind that filters out information in general. The need to remain positive at all times is a hard victory in the game of life.

The daily news hasn’t been my favorite read; but then, I get my most of the information of the world around me in the partial view from Social Media. I frequent social media channels only on fixed time and logout after the fixed time is over.

I sometimes feel that what is right doesn’t exactly fit with what is expected. There is a huge difference with reality based truth and assumed truth colored by views. In all these views there is a huge debate that keeps rotating within the intellectual mind.

Then, I think about the way I handled views and news in my life. Sometimes, I think I become a deaf frog climbing the mountain of improbability. There is hope only when humans don’t complicate their thought process with negativity.

Reading should happen with a sense of hope and aspiration for the future. But of late, the newspapers have been showing stark pictures of a future that looks like a death wish.

I remain eternally hopeful for the future. The Golden era of just and fair world is not far off. The process through which it gets created is equally a soul-wrenching experience. There is much to learn and process within me, that I find satisfaction in the self-discovery.

Sometimes being this stupidly optimistic becomes a desperate need with me. If I let this process drop, then there is no opportunity to make something better. I keep shamelessly being hopeful at every dark event, steeped in the hope that things will change for the better.

 

A 100 Year After of Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken”

Tags

,

The poem has been written over a 100 plus years ago; and even today, it has the power to move my inner thoughts. There have been many routes that converged, turned, split across, and continued on to another without returning. In this process of my life’s marathon, I found solace and comfort from walking through them.

There isn’t anything about taking the well worn path or the path less traveled, because both were equally enjoyable with varying degree of past advises to be passed on to me. The point was the joy of the travel and the experience of walking through it.

Smithsonian Magazine carried an article titled “What Gives Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” Its Power?” by David C Ward. The writer of the said article has done such a wonderful analysis of the poem that brought back my college memories.

I remember being the only person who wondered about his choice of poetic form that was simultaneously modern and old-fashioned. It puzzled me why the Poet wished to be a rural poet and not picking more cosmopolitan topics. But then, his very choice defines him as my favorite poet.

The interesting part is that, I am also at a threshold to take a serious decision in my life. Two roads opened up in front of me and I will have to make a choice much to my distress. Writing is more than my passion, because it defines me as an individual. Unlike Mr. Frost I don’t have a plan for my publishing route with clarity.

But then somehow I watch the publishing road dramatically keep changing right in front of me like a time warp window. I fear if I don’t step into that gaping hole, then I will be left behind in the ancient times when fire was just being discovered. Not that it would make an interesting novelette worth exploring.

But as a writer, I’m still trying to find my audience. Since, my writings are in my adopted mother-tongue: English, my expression contains the influences of my natural mother-tongue: Tamil. I am essentially a Chennaite with clear view of my almost rural thoughts. I merely had to decide, how I wish to share and feel satisfied in such a sharing.

Much like Robert Frost, I keep trying to find Native speakers of English for their feedback in the hope, that if there is any changes, then that would make me improve my Poet-Writer voice. Hidden within these lines of aspiration is the desire to see my work be seen and talked about.

That way, I think I like the simplicity of Robert Frost’s work which sings to my soul. Life is never simple; it is filled with choices, regrets, nostalgia and sickening tendency to pull the rug out from under me. But it is so much about enjoying the freefall too.

I always thought of the two roads in the wood actually were somewhere in the milky-way. In the vast endless route, I choose one time tunnel and find myself within a unique situation with no point of return.

It is over a hundred years now since the publication of “Road Not Taken” created by my favorite poet who made me feel that sense of surprise every time I read it. Every poem brings with it a sense of surprise that converts a dramatic event into something life-changing.

This poem invokes a lot more feeling within me. I can sense completeness in the words strung together. The most captivating lines where in the third stanza which remains folded within my thoughts even today.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back”

 

~ Robert Frost

There is a spiritual pleasure in walking out on the complicated streets of Chennai, while dreaming in waves of determination. I have very few rural experiences, since I have been essentially a city girl.

I find my pleasures in experiencing rural settings by reading up on rural stories, poems and the works. This poem is one such rural poem that is well crafted.