Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita Volume 2 | My Notes

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita | Volume 2

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha’s narrative style has the old South Indian tradition of storytelling clubbed with loosely knit story format that works wonderfully for this commentary on Andal’s Thiruppavai. There are so many micro short stories woven with such sensitivity that it is an experience of being in a timeless boat floating on the oceans of never-ending stories.

The Story in a Nutshell

Goda, the composer and the versatile story weaver of the Thiruppavai brings out the deep-seated desire of the girls in Ayaripadi to celebrate and to get Lord Krishna’s exclusive companionship. Goda in this volume is visiting every missing girls’ house to personally awake them from their slumber to join in the Pavai Nombu celebration.

The Volume 2 stories are as compelling as those from the volume 1. These are small incidences picked from various Puranas and Vedic time stories. She also picks up stories from the contemporary era too, when she talks about the Alwars who lived before her and their life stories. The never-ending link of stories and facts of the rites provides for an entertaining conversation among the girls.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all little and big stories. I didn’t feel tired from the constant deviations from the main event of the Pavai Nombu. The stories felt like an ambling aging river carries with slush pile of silt in its bed. The time spent on the three girls in Goda’s list of missing girls is well spent on learning so many interesting news bites about the Lord and His gracious benevolence towards His devotees.

Some of the stories were rehashed, but then, they still were entertaining to listen to again. For someone like me, if you are also interested in listening to stories then this Kindle book will entertain you immensely. There is a lot of information about the various religious figureheads and stories related to them are narrated with equal passion with which the other Puranic stories are narrated.

My Opinion

The Volume 2 keeps the interest going while providing new information about where the Pavai Nombu gathering has arrived at. This volume may be spent on waking up the girls, but at the same time, there is a lot happening with the internal cleansing process. With every discussion and arguments with the Goda and her friends to wake the missing girls, the internal thought is cleared and focused on Lord Krishna and his many avatars.

Radha Kalyanam A Musical Event 2018| My Take

flute and feather

I came to know about Radha Kalyanam from my mother. She would reminiscence about incidents from her life. One of her past incidents was about her youngest sister’s interest in the Radha Kalyanam event more out of necessity than any spiritual import. She attended the event and participated in getting alms from the brahmin community, dancing around in the celebratory wooden press, and free meals at the end of the event. So, Radha Kalyanam was a reference that I got from my mother and I always thought of my aunt who passed away at a very young age.

I never really understood about Radha Kalyanam, since it was not my topic of interest. Naturally, I never could relate to the program format that my mother explained to me. But there were moments when I could imagine my youngest aunt jumping around the Ural or Wooden press pounding stick and finding whatever connection that she found in it.

Radha Kalyanam brought back sad notes for me and surprisingly, I attended the Radha Kalyanam for about most part on 29th and 30th December 2018. I feel that being a semi-passive audience could be a little hard on one. I definitely feel, that it the hardest to sit it out on a hard cold floor covered with a thin carpet and the AC in full blast. Apart from a bad back and butt after the program, I was left with a feeling that I really don’t know anything about Jayadevar’s “Gita Govinda” work.

My neighbor’s family has been holding this function during Marghazi Tamil month for the past three years. It usually coincides with the first day of the new year. Marghazi falls between mid-December to mid-January. Interesting thing is that Chennai climate is pretty cold in this month compared to the other months in the Tamil Calendar.

The past years, I had just quickly visited for a few moments and listened in from the comforts of my home since their function happened on their terrace. This year they had booked a hall for this function. I had no clue about the format of the program until this year and would always wonder why the singer was not doing a good job. I enjoy solo more than group singing. The only time I am fascinated by the group singing is when they have practiced a lot as a choir. The group singing is all about coordination and mellifluous voices that appear as a single unit.

This Marghazi of 2018 I felt an interesting need to attend this program and understand its import. So even when I did get the invite, I was thinking of just giving a quick visit and leave after taking tambulam. But somehow during my research on Andal’s work Thiruppavai, I came across a connecting reference to the rasaleela of Vrindavan and Andal’s call for Pavai Fasting.

The event format was not clear until I read a little more about the source work and the significance of the Radha Kalyanam. As an aftermath of attending the event, I had a hard time to forget Radha. The principal human Atmas are represented by Radha and gopikas who become unified with Krishna consciousness.

Around the second week of the new year, I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery that was making my mind so confused. Radha and Krishna’s relationship has a mystical quality to it which by the way, does not fall under the common human definition of love. But the audience can relate to the lower level resonance of love and the affection of human qualities and its human plane references.

So during my research of Radha Kalyanam, I found the following sites very informative:

So, I decided to get back to the main text written by Jayadevar in the “Gita Govind”. The Tamil version of the Astapathi of Jayadevar’s poetry is sung with great fervor of devotion. The translation of the Astapathi provided an incline into the poetic structure of the Gita Govind’s 24 verses of 8 couplets in a pastoral lyrical ballad.

There is a huge difference in the format of Thiruppavai and Gita Govind. Both speak of pastoral scenic places and settings. In the expression of love there lies the difference. The poetry is definitely conservative in the case of Andal’s Thiruppavai compared to the Astapathis. The view of the exact transliteration of the poetry may not provide a clear understanding of the central theme if the context is not fixed at the beginning.

Out of context, the Astapathi sounds very erotic since the poetic format is structured in such a way that it brings out pastoral love of Nayika and Nayak. It parallels the universal sought spiritual goal for each individual atma to get unified with the supreme Paramatma. This time Radha Kalyanam was interesting to follow and observe the various elements of the event. I am yet to find the Supreme Krishna consciousness.

In that I believe, Andal’s Nachiar Tirumozhi is closer to the Astapathi, yet Andal is very conservative in her expression. This conservative expression is essentially very south based poetry rules. Given that Andal’s exposure to various literary works at that time would have been provided by her adopted Father Periazhwar. Given that she was educated and learned to write a pastoral poem on her ishat devatha first as a communal prayer event and later as a personal one-on-one conversation leading to individual aspiration of sainthood. In that I liked the poetic quality of both the poets for different reasons. Though the pastoral quality of Gita Govind is sublime experience for me.

 

Image Source: Timelines.com

Healthy Life of Full Circle Recycling! Pratham Books Champions 2018

This year’s book  for the Pratham Books Championship Programme was “A Cloud of Trash,” written by Karanjeet Kaur and illustrated by Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi.

I enrolled late in the programme with less than two weeks. When I read the story, I got curious about trash!

The topic of Trash was interesting in two ways.

First, I have never thought about what happens to the trash that I throw away! Seriously what did happen to them?!

Second, I cannot wait for an extraordinary event of a trash cloud chasing me to change my ways?!

These might seem relatively not so important questions. But when it appeared in my mind I needed to know what can I do better than what I have been doing?!

Following that twisted questions, I researched on the topic of Trash. Many weeks were spent just getting to understand what trash really was! What was good effects of fully recycling the natural way!

Not surprising, I found some really interesting sources that provided more light on the trash. Currently, the Chennai Corporation has to deal with Mixed Trash which contains wet, dry and harmful wastes all in a huge messed up mix. The current method for managing it is called Integrated Solid Waste Management.

All the mixed waste from house goes into the garbage bins in the street corners which the corporation collects from the corners and dumps in sites without the city limits. The two dump sites in Chennai are Kodungaiyur and Perungudi which take in the mixed waste disposed from the entire city.

Source of Waste are 68% Residential, 16% Commerical, 14% Insitutional, 2% Industrial

Per Capita Waste Levels in various cities are:

City Kg/Person/Day
Chennai 0.71
Kokata 0.66
Delhi 0.65
Mumbai 0.51
Hyderabad 0.65
Bangalore 0.45
Pune 0.53
Ahmedabad 0.42
Kanpur 0.49
Surat 0.47

(Source: Green Earth)

I got so engrossed, that I had not even found a school where I can read to the Children until the very last week of the International Literacy Date!

A few days before September 8, I had approached Jaigopal Garodia Hindu Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School in West Mambalam, Chennai to present this story. The school responded with affirmation to my request to hold a session for grades 3 and 4.

The experience of presenting the story to the children was so enthralling that I think I was inspired to do more for the children.

I collated all the details to make an informational flyer, which is still an on-going activity that was inspired by this book.

Bookworm’s Corner is my small effort to get stories across to children. Every child that I come across has a story of its own and the joy of spending a one-on-one session with a single child is so enriching and so are the group session.

Not surprisingly, I spent one session the previous day with the child from my residency. The next day, when I had to present it to Children at the school it was much more fun.

When I reached the school on Saturday at 9:50 am to converse with the teacher and to present my Session Plan, I was a nervous pot. The school was celebrating Vinayaka Charthurthi. I silently thanked my favorite lord and hoped that He would guide me in the story-reading.

The Head Mistress and the teachers of both grades were such helpful beings. They smoothed the way for me to present the story to the children.

The most interesting thing that got away from this story was the concept of segregating at source. Among the various research sources, I found the place which used a scientific method for making compost of the wet waste.

It is also important to know that when the wet and dry waste are separated, then the value of both the wastes increases.

  • Wet waste can be composted and the by-product of compost can be used in kitchen gardens or gardens near the locality.
  • Dry waste which is not corrupted by the presence of wet ingredient can now be recycled or reused.
  • Harmful chemical waste can be provided to proper channel to prevent leachate of the chemicals.

The take away in my session was not only to use the dustbin, which was what the student took away; but also, to separate wet and dry waste so the trashed out material can be recycled or reused based on their quality.

One happy thing that came out of this experience was the fact that I have begun composting at home using the Daily Dump product, medium Kambha. Watch the video to know how it is used!

There is a sense of excitement and a need to get this story further to other children. This might be a whole year round sharing for me.

Pictures of the session:

Larking at Larkin Main Branch Library in SFO

Larkin’s Main Branch Library was my hangout space on days when I felt that I made a wrong choice to study MFA in Writing at CCA. Especially, during the winter my mood swings were really bad, I made sure that I picked my mood dead carcass to the Library. The choice was between Mission Library and Larkin Main Branch. Mission won mostly.

During my stay in San Francisco, I was entirely dependent on Google Maps for directions to any place in US. It was almost close to real address. I am a person who gets lost in my bedroom, so it was quite a challenge to reach places. But it used to be so exciting to take that printout at the Writer’s Studio, kind family members house or even jotting it down on a piece of paper.

This also meant that I had to plan my visit to the place way ahead of the time, since I needed the printout of the directions. I would only take printout of those directions, which are really crucial; but for the rest, I would depend on writing it down.

Surprising thing about the Google Maps would be, that you can actually plan to the last minute of your travel plan. Of course, I took longer to walk to the BART and Muni stops, so I would plan a couple of minute earlier departures from my start point.

So the first time that I went to Larkin Library was on a sunny chill morning of October. I needed to find some material which the Mission Library indicated as available in the Main Branch.

It was pretty much easy to go to Larkin Street, if I took the BART from 24th Mission Station to Civi Center Station. I would find a spot to sit down to dream away hugging my backpack.

My backpack was special because it had everything that I needed. There have been times, when I felt, if I started to walk away with just my backpack, then I really didn’t need anything at all.

The interesting thing about going to the Main Branch Library was that I would be confused which exit to take. It happened every single time I get out of the Civi Center Station, even if I have visited the place almost many times, I would get lost and have to figure the place despite my jotted directions. I simply don’t get the left or right directions and get confused very quickly.

I had very few friends and I tried not to disturb them with my pestering company. But I must say my friends in US were really interesting people, who I enjoyed spending time with. The pull of a quiet library is very stronger than talking with people. I still remember the day when I shared silence with a fellow writer Veronica. She didn’t mind my being quiet and talking intermittently.

That’s one thing you can say for the friends from CCA, they provided me space to just shut off and remain silent. I read so many of their works for the workshop and I wished that I could talk to them about it on a one-on-one bases. But my shyness got the better of me and I couldn’t really talk to them all. I always landed not stating what I felt about the piece even in the workshops.

My first semester was such a huge stress for me. I didn’t know the place but it was not strange that I was in a new place. Since I could connect to the place at a higher level, it was the people that I needed my energies to settle down. Once I settle down, then it is so easy to converse.

One fine October Sunday in 2010, my mood swings were really high and I needed the calm space of the library. I got ready and started towards the Larkin branch library and religiously jotted down the details of the directions. It so happened that I had arrived early to the destination. So I had to hang out until the library opened for the day.

Out there at the location, I found a Sunday market and hung around to look at things being sold in temporary stalls. There was this sense of places mixing in my head and I remembered markets of Singapore and Chennai. All my commerce day lessons came rushing to my mind.

The sense of place in my life is very connected and especially when I needed to find my inner balance. After hanging for about an hour the library doors opened and I went in.

My first impression of the library could be summed up in a word, Palace. The architecture of the library was so Roman and I felt like Alice floating in air. For the first visit, I was just hanging out there on polished floor and tall rooms. I felt I might have lost a few inches, since I felt the rest of the people were taller than me.

I remember the grey shades of the library warmed by brown shades of desks, shelves and splatter of colors that were the bound books. The first visit was just spent walking around the place. It was only in my second visit that I even try to take out the book that I had searched in Mission Library.

I relaxed to the moment spent in the library and my peace restored with my confidence in me to go on. There is no amount of talking can get me to calm down, as much as a visit to a library can accomplish. Larkin Main Branch Library was my angel in disguise.

Image Source: https://sfpl.org/

Memorable Personalities

I have a quirky habit of listening to song in a loop. I would listen to any new fancied song in an almost unending loop for days together. When that happens, the lyrics of the song would evoke people from my memory.

I always count my blessing more than my challenges. But then sometimes within the challenges lies the true lessons of life. My recent loop song is from the movie “Noor” titled “Hai Zaroori” sung by Prakriti Kakar and composed by Amaal Mallik.

Yes, it is true that I meet some very interesting people in my life. I must say that I have many a journal entry about various incidents in my life. But among the many I am reminded of a few people who touched my soul. I cannot finish it in one blog entry.

In my school for a short while, I used to eat alone, since I had fallen out with all my friends. I am a person who loves to eat with other people and so would feel so lonely often when eating alone.

Naturally, I would cut short my lunch by stuffing myself and rushing to the library, where I would pick Anne of Green Gables series. I used to be so emotional when reading that series, the story was around a positive heroine who would see the I’m Ok and You’re Ok side in all the events in her life. A forced sense of happiness and well-being appealed to my sensitivity, so that I would also see positive signs even in the most negative incidences.

Around that time my book reading had helped stabilize my emotions and so I was not even looking for a friend. I believe I was in my ninth grade when R sat by my side and I was a little frightened of her.

I was also unwilling to open my heart for another round of disappointment in friendship. But in my hindsight R has been one of the most soft-spoken person with brilliance that left your soul colored with her idealism.

We talked in dribble and nibbles which lead to the gentle drift into a friendship that stayed on. Even though I am not in touch with her, I believe she would have become a strong woman. She loved Chemistry and she even completed her graduation in the subject after all her Polio corrective surgeries.

I remember to this day that assembly experience. She never joined the assembly and I felt that she had to join us. She was no different from us. So one day, I told her that I would be crazy enough to skip the assembly, if she didn’t come with me.

When we eventually made it to the assembly, I was very nervous and didn’t like it being the center of attention when the entire assembly waited for us to join the line.

Even today I don’t like being the center of attention, but then, I know how to fake being brave-faced. I also know if one harsh look from audience, then it would crumble like bread crumbs. But then, R suggested waiting in the ground way before the assembly bell rings fearful clarity. But I was happy that she decided to join the assembly.

When we were in tenth I was made to sit by the side of the class topper so that she would be able to help me. Osmosis effect! But then studies never made any sense to me. But I always kept my contact with R. I remember going to her place in the front and she would keep track of whether I finished my Math worksheet and revised all the other subjects. She would take liberty in scolding me if I tell her that I hadn’t done it.

By then I was more of a once bitten twice shy kind of person, but I liked something about R that build my faith in her. I became very selective of picking friends and even to this day I follow that unwritten rule, even though I am always polite with all.

She took a break after her 10th Exams and did her high school in a different stream. As for me, I was back to being free drifting spirit with I hope no friends or enemies. By this time I was happy with who or what I was and didn’t wish to change myself. Maybe my earlier experiences helped me to grow older fast.

So the next interesting person that I was to meet in college was K. Now I used to walk with her to the disabled students’ hostel run by a charitable institution. She lived there for the duration of completing her graduation. She would absolutely showcase me to her hostel-mates. I enjoyed talking non-stop with them, by then I think I had learned to be sunny happy person. I think I was trying to be Anne of Green Gables, a grabbled version at least.

When I think of K, I remember that I had a hard day at college once and I was major time pissed off with the entire world. I had decided to walk down to my home to contain my anger. But then universe had other plans for me.

Because on that fateful day K decides to stop me and informed me, that she wanted to walk with me to her hostel. Her hostel was just a slight detour on the way to my home. I was fuming and yet didn’t have the heart to refuse her desire, so I reluctantly agreed to walk with her.

So for a while, I was silent and then started talking in anger. I started describing the street that we were walking.  How it looked and felt with such violence that she became silent. Then I used words that K would have trouble understanding but she was still patient with me. But at the point when I had covered everything in the ground, I said, “The sky was blue.”

I think that was her last straw and K must have had enough of me. She stopped walking and I naturally stopped too. She pressed my armed which was linked with hers and asked in a small voice, “How does blue look like?” I believe that evaporated my anger completely. Here was the challenge for me. How do you describe blue to a person who has never seen blue?! I calmed down immediately.

I understood that I had been an angry jackass. From that day forth I would never describe using visual blackhole words. I linked all description to physical or emotional links.

I also remember that I would walk to blind people after politely suggesting to them that they fold their guide so that I could link their arm with mine. It would seem like two friends walking peacefully. This also gave me control over how I guided them by making sure they were safe with me.

So one day during my Freshman year of college, someone close to my age wearing a ray ban and holding a folded guiding stick asked me to help him board a bus. Now the fact that he was a young man and there were a lot of people around was pressurizing for me. Since girls don’t talk to boys an unwritten social rule. But heck, I still wanted to help him since he asked for help.

I threw my social consciousness up in the air and I promised to help him board a bus while I eyed my empty 37D go by. I sighed and the person immediately asked me if something was wrong. I cleared the lump in my throat and said nothing really.

All the while we were waiting for the bus I was worried about guiding him. Actually he did look pretty handsome and quiet heavy. I don’t know where that fact is coming from but then he was healthy and seemed to work-out on a regular basis. In all categories, this person if sighted wouldn’t require my help at all.

I was not thinking of that all at that moment. Because my one fear factor was that will I be able to get him on board the bus as quickly as possible. Since the public transport don’t provide a lot of time for passengers to get in the bus and he had to find the steps and so much other factors for person with impaired sight. I feared for his safety and the huge responsibility on my shoulders.

But the minute I sighted his bus I just touched him on his arm and he moved smoothly in the direction that I was moving my arm. He did not seem so heavy and didn’t resist me either. One of the important things about a blind person would be the confidence with which they would place their faith in your motives for guidance.

My eyes filled with emotional tears that someone had that faith in me. I cleared my throat and yelled the person’s destination to the bus conductor and informed him to help the person to get down at the right stop. Once I got the confirmation from the conductor.

I bide my goodbyes by yelling at the person, since lots of people were getting into the bus and he was already in the bus. I waved my hands while shouting out goodbyes. I did get weird looks from others. In India we don’t give way to disabled people to board the bus first when I saw that in US I think I felt pride in US because they were considerate.

Tulika – A Children’ Books Publisher in Chennai

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

My Numero Uno Pratham’s Champions Programme of 2015

I have been linked with Pratham Books from my Creative Remixes days. I had used their ‘Creative Common’ images to create an original story. So I was not unfamiliar with the organization but Champions Programme was new for me. Pratham has been creating awareness and exposure to this programme through their twitter and facebook social media spaces.

The organization aims to increase readership among children for the International Literacy day falling on the 8th of September 2015. This year’s programme was flagged off on Teacher’s Day 5th September to bring more children towards reading books. It had special connotation because the teachers bring the world of books and knowledge to a child in their unique ways.

I got to know about the Champions Programme from my co-worker Anitha Selvanathan. This year’s featured book was “The Boy and the Drum” by Umesh P N and Illustrated by Rajiv Eipe.

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The Boy and the Drum

Even though I registered for the drive of getting books to children to inculcate reading habits, I was rather excited and felt a little challenged. I am crazy about books and if I can generate interest among children for reading then the very sharing is a reward by itself.

I had planned on having a Reading session in my house for my home tuition students. But something kept egging me to seek out a bigger challenge. I wanted to share it among a larger audience since I was equally passionate about sharing a story.

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Home Tuition Students

Quite by accident, actually, I came across the Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS), Ashok Nagar, Chennai. I approached the Headmistress Mrs. R. C. Saraswathi who felt strongly about encouraging reading habits in Children.

She immediately linked me up with the Drama teacher K. S. Latha who had been a great source of help for smoothing my way for the reading drive. The school was closed for the Teacher’s Day and so we scheduled to have the reading session a day earlier on 4th September at the school.

On the D-Day, I was conscious of the enormity of my challenge but I was also happy to bring them a story to enjoy reading. The Drama teacher offered to set aside two periods for the reading and enacting session.

I was able to prep-talk the children on how to read the text without the stage instruction. The Drama teacher added in her spicy instruction to make the play alive. The selected 10 Children read the story first as a practice and then as a finale.

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10 Lively Characters of the play

(Photo Courtesy: K S Latha)

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Play in Progress

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

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The children were spirited about the reading session each trying to out-do the other in making the play come alive and giving it their touch of unique interpretation. We had a discussion session after the reading to further understand and gain insights into the story.

The Children showed such enthusiasm towards being exposed to reading that they felt an annual event would be a long wait for them. They gave me the inspiration to take these sessions to more children and give them the gift of reading and to explore stories with their imagination.

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Champions Programme 2015 Participants

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

I enjoy making the children desire befriending a book, because one gains a friend who would remain an inspiration through all seasons of life. The One Day One Story drive was the first step towards a long journey ahead. For there is nothing as rewarding as watching those sparkle in the eyes of the children who have just finished reading a story and have found enjoyment in it.

 

Insightful Bliss Seeker’s and Their Zen of Achievements

I usually write my blogs with some music on. I am listening to Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore album. I am fascinated with the opening piece

Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore

A refugee salesman carrying a bundle of jaggery on his head was passing by a long and broad path. A buzzing umbrella of bees was hovering over his head on top of his bundle. When the sun rose, the heat from the burning fire ball started to melt the bundle of jaggery.

The innocent refugee was not aware of this fact. His thirst builds up that he begins to lick the sweat flowing down his face. He was quite surprised to taste sweetness in his sweat, as he is walking on the deserted open space all alone.

I am such an innocent refugee who is wondering at the trickling sweetness from the bundle of Tagore’s poetry placed on my head, I lick the sweetness in trickles of joy.

– Gulzar

I believe this introduction aptly links up my experience of The Bliss Catchers series which was 30th Session as per Avis Viswanathan. I accidentally came to know of this event in the facebook space. Then, I spent some time trying to find out about this talk show and saw some of Avis videos. I was curious and I love bookstores but the timing is seriously offensive for me.

Since my self-imposed curfew is 6 pm kind of a hindrance by itself; but I needed this experience so curfew got sidetracked for once. That never stopped me from worrying my brains about the ticking clock. But, despite that fact, the ladies got my entire attention.

I decided to go only at 6 pm after much debate. A lightening decision to visit the store to attend this event resulted in two important things; I got an Anchor Quick Stitch Kit and attended an exceptional event with interesting controversial insights.

AVIS Viswanathan of Avis Initiative wears multiple caps of professional ventures. He curates a talk show titled “The Bliss Catchers” to present prominent celebrity to understand their processes and their game plans to handle situations of opportunities and hurdles in their pursuit of happiness.

Today Avis was in conversation with two modern day women achievers | Ms. Janaki Sabesh and Ms. Akhila Krishnamurthy. Both these exceptional ladies were proofs to the fact that when beauty and intelligence are available in the right mix, nothing can be unachievable for the bliss seeker. Both of them come from a Tam-Braham community which supported their pursuit to intrinsic happiness in fields of Media.

I was fascinated to listen to both the ladies. Janaki and Akhila talked about their career from the subjective perspective. At times, I wanted to hear them talk about the choices that they had to make between personal commitments and professional commitments. Both of them spoke about their family backing them in their route to pursuit of happiness.

Both talked about handling different profession based requirements and how the journey started and how it moved forward. How the life process brought to their forefront those events that led to their various projects in their respective careers.

Janaki broke into a storytelling session with the group and I was totally fascinated though a little reluctant to repeat her cues for the story that she performed. Singeri Rangarajan’s Haircut Day. I would have played around the initial part of the story with putting in right date for cutting his hair and various finer points of haircuts and his superstitions that he had about haircut. But then, that’s the storyteller in me.

Those 90 minutes of conversation with them showed their various aspect of their life and choices, which resulted in their flow of lives’ achievement in their timeline. I was nervously eyeing my mobile for the ticking time. Akhila sang a song for the audience on viewer’s request during the Q&A session. But there was one question in my mind and that I wanted to ask them if they ever experienced the “state of flow” in their work. But eventually in my nervousness I asked a question about, if happy ending was really necessary for stories? Is less than happy ending acceptable? Both in stories and in concepts charted out for cultural events?

Janaki played it safe and kept to the beaten track, said she preferred to work with happy endings stories more than sad ones given the existence of sadness all around. But she did incorporate stories which is much more complex emotional materials. She believed in striking a balance. But felt happiness was more important than sadness. I slightly disagree with her; but then, that is me.

Akhila had space to work around the question and spoke of the existence of all forms of expression of human experiences pitched in the various events organized in the Arts Event Management. I was partially processing their response while waiting for Avis to windup, so I could leave ASAP but not without buying that cross stitch kit. Gulzar’s album brings me back to the present.

Gulzar voice concludes saying that the saint seeking alms is the same, so is the spiritually lost Jogi is the same, and so is that girl waiting eternally is the same ~ by Tagore.

Somehow, I don’t know how long the album has been playing for now; but within my space of writing these thoughts of my experience, I have found my positive flow and desire to have a process based conversation with both the ladies, if possible.

Thank you Avis, Janaki and Akhila! I had a wonderful time.

Pictures from the Event

 

[Photo Courtesy: Self | Need to work on my photo taking skills! :-P)]