Why we Don’t need Everything Figured out.

It’s amazing the number of times i hear people around me talking about having everything sorted. My parents constantly talk about leading life in a planned way, i have seen people give up on relationships and beautiful moments for the ever so far “figured out plan”. While i would mull over these statements time and again i went for the movie Barfi this weekend and what i saw in the movie about ‘living in the moment without a plan’, made me re affirm my idea of having a life without having it all figured out. Here’s why we don’t need everything in life figured out:

Life is very very vulnerable. It can extinguish in a minute, a jiffy, it comes with no guarantee card and wipes itself out anywhere, anytime. Death as we really know of it can come knocking the moment you walk out of that snazzy office making big plans of the next move, or when you are brushing away somebody’s fairy land dreams for them being too way ward. Living in today and not stressing out for what is to come tomorrow is essential because do you even know if you have the next moment?

Not having it figured opens the opportunities to experiment. Experiment with that random thought of starting your own travel cafe, that inkling of an idea of that story you can convert into a book. It keeps that mind open and ever so close to smelling the next big chance you may have.

It makes a fighter out of you. Simply put you know that you need to fucking work out whatever cs knocking on your senses. Things can come your way both as a pleasant experience or stuff that punches you in the face. If it is situation two , you emerge a fighter that will work out a way. Richard Branson hadn’t had it all figured when he decided to start Student Advisory Committee as a helpline for teenagers. All he knew was that unable to get a safe abortion for his girlfriend was a torture and he decided there are probably hundreds of teenagers out there looking for safer place and hospitals for the same. He did not have it figured as to what shape or impact this would have, all he knew was he needed to help. In a year of starting this he was hit hard on the face by getting arrested for going against an anarchic law! Arrested, on trial, he came out a fighter with getting the law changed! All you need is that one hearing to what the heart says at that moment.

Not having it figured also teaches you to become less obsessed about stereotypes. Stereotypes about  life, about relationships, about others, about the work you do, the people you give chances to- you become more flexible about these things. Living in today means you got to give all of these things a shot in today which doesn’t leave much scope for the mind to over analyse and rot things.

You start to learn that many around you don’t have life figured themselves. That life is a continuous learning process and you do not need definitions for everything or anything at times. You learn that  folks around you are also seeking out to create their own ways with your help. You learn that a reassuring smile works for that nervous new comer around you and you have done your bit.

Not having it figures means you do not necessarily fit roles and change yourself to become a new entity. Living in just the today always ensures that you do not lose the real you because there is no figured scheme of things to be achieved, bringing down the chances of you wanting to say things because it makes sense or is the right gesture to make. You would rather keep it straight and be the original you because it is here and now that you got.


Because waiting is a beautiful thing too:)

My “Problem” with Glamorized Awareness.

I am somebody who can today safely say “i have seen the world of television go through a sea of change”. I grew up with Star Plus having its 7-8pm slot of Barkha Dutt, Vikram Chandra. I was inspired to become a journalist and therefore the right cause. I then grew into a heralded era of it becoming a mixy matchy world. Television grew into a new animal with soaps, “new gen serials”, news becoming the empowering tool. I remember i started getting irritated, very early on, when i noticed news channels becoming the self proclaimed judges of the evils of society. I had started getting bemused by how medias role was going through such metamorphosis.

Alongside i was growing up, making my choice of legal studies over journalism, human rights study over corporate law, exposing myself to the world of “causes” and training myself to become a change maker. I trained with NGO’s, kept my theoretical knowledge in place by studying the subjects and learnt that the world has never been as nice as i imagined it sitting inside my home.

“Change” through the power of masses has always been a part of my training’s. Advocacy/ awareness are words integral to a person working in the social sector. Therefore when Jessica Lall solidarity march took place and masses walked to the India gate it mattered to me that people are “aware”. The throng of emails stirred the emotions about “the wrongs of law” and the masses were affected. I was a part of the walk too as a young law student and remember asking people around me do you know what went wrong in the court and did not hear a single yes. That somehow mattered to me but i brushed it away as a law student ego rush. Lot of years after that i was thronged with emails about “its time corruption is weeded out” and while i was trying to read the proposed law and the older one i kept away from the march, the protests, the frenzy. Somehow this time it mattered more, that the masses had no clue of the proposition being made but were gung ho becoming “part of the aware population”. I was questioned and re questioned about my non participation and my social sector work status vi-a-vis my complete indifference to “the movement of the century”.

Just when Anna and team decided to take a breather, the television started becoming interesting on a channel that is not the news channel. The promo having Aamir singing “meri jaan, meri jaan sunday ke sunday” had a lot of people around me having exciting conversation about what was to come. The first episode made the skeptic in me stronger ,about where the stream about “awareness” was flowing. Female foeticide as the starting episode, the tears, the gasps, the bewildered looks were nothing compared to what i heard around me in the “educated, informed class”. I was again asked about “my problem with awareness” and i started to think about it.

Aware implies knowledge gained through one’s own perceptions or by means of information. When i hear the reactions around me i see the two aspects of the definition getting mixed up! Issues like what the serial is trying to address are what have existed in the society forever. If a country with a growing rate of “educated, intellectual youngsters” needs to form perceptions now that “gosh it happens in cities” through the “informed knowledge” being fed by the show, i see a huge problem there. What such awareness is not doing is what ‘awareness’ is used for in the social sector. It is used as a tool to bring about factual knowledge to bring a perception change that triggers questions relevant to the context of the issue. There is responsibility attached to this, since awareness has to make action oriented people a reality. Perceptions cannot be fed to masses that are already becoming lethargic to the social realities. Creating real crusaders is far more critical and requires more responsible citizens created and not just high drama dose of crying victims! Does this glamourised dose ask questions beyond the typically expected ones? Did the episode on female foeticide probe into why are girls killed in cities? What has the affect of upward social mobility of women been on this trend? Did anyone question  the credibility of the evidences that are produced?

The medical debacle episode had the doctor writing a public letter to Aamir Khan stating the facts of the case and how the protagonist in the story (the husband of the dead wife) had hidden some key facts. Every episode did what it had set out to do- titillating the senses of the “empowered class” in the country. The actor reached places where activists should have been- in the PM’s office, in articles about social impact, becoming the mascot of change. What i found missing was his responsibility to say that i will also lead the actual change. I was saddened when a friend, who is a crusader for children’s sexual rights, called me after the CSA episode and said “i have media calling me to ask if Aamir Khan led to the releasing of the law in the country”! I have a problem with glamorized awareness as it does not answer the real question “who will bring the change if everyone is happy with just high drama sitcoms?”

Two Films and a Satisfied me:)

Past two weeks i have gone and watched two films that rekindled my liking for the art of films. I was introduced to Kshay by a random liking by a friend on Facebook. Having read up on the subject that the film was dealing with i was very intrigued as to what form of obsession would they portray the character taking on. I kept a watch on the film traveling all over the globe,the awards it was bagging and the steady facebook marketing that was in place. It was great reading reviews and every once in a while i went back to the video depicting the lakshmi and chhai’s obsession with it!

I ended up watching Gangs of Wasseypur before i got to see Kshay. Call it fate or the timing in Bangalore not working out fine, but i ended up with raw, uncut, bloody, lustful film before Kshay happened. I am no film critic, nor a part of an appreciation club i like going to cinema halls and so i prefer my cinema which is  beyond the daily doses given out to me. I invariably interpret characters and what they convey to me by their dialogues, their actions, their movements. I like the film playing with my stated views on everything about my senses. Gangs of Wasseypur, after a long time, gave me my dose of raw human emotions. The story of revenge and generations going through it did not feel like it was not a story next to me. The music added on perfectly and the lyrics being no holds barred kept me totally engrossed. I was all for the lustful attraction between Sardar and the Bangalan and then later the love stories of his sons. The colloquial sense did keep my senses awake and wanting more of everything. I came out a satisfied girl and went home high on the dialogues “hum shaadi shuda hain, jaanto ho na” and “permission liye the kya”. 

The week after i went for Kshay. With just one show playing, it was a lot of planning and getting the timing right with friends who were as keen. I was happy that we didn’t miss anything from the beginning because i loved the opening scene and then the film just gets better with it. The slow depiction of black and white engaged my visual senses amazingly well. The sub-urban house and how their lives fit into that structure plays with me. How Chhai takes on the role of lakshmi in her life is a steady movement and the growth of her obsession is bang on. Rasika has a lovely smile that plays on very well when she sees any of the lakshmi pictures, locket etc. I go through her life with her small smiles, her obsession, her frustration seamlessly. The narrative is perfect for me and the black and white innovation does do the trick for me. The screen plays slowly even for the story surging ahead and the games of the psyche become so clear that it starts to play with my mind. Obsession in its purest form comes through so fluidly that Alekh’s last two scenes are perfectly synchronized for me. I cringed a bit, got saddened at times but mostly was captured by the moving scenes of her  manifestation of the goddess in her life. The corroding is so real that i can almost relate to the obsession to some part or other of me at different times! The music reminds me of requim of a dream, but unlike that film this one does not leave me disturbed but feel obsession. 

I left the hall discussing with another watcher why the scenes about Alekh hallucination in the end fits in and all i said was “you got to relate to obsession and ones love for the other to understand why that scenes fit in.”


In this one year.

I am coming back to writing on my blog page after more than a year! That’s not too much of good but then again   i gave a lot to this past one year. I learnt a lot more, i traveled new places, i reconnected with myself. I do intend to write more often now, get the thoughts down in words, write more about things i see and more importantly i feel.

I learnt about myself that i truly can take on completely unknown new stuff. Right from the time i pursued law, i have been on with stuff totally unrelated to legal studies. Joining work that i loved seemed like the most natural thing to do. One year into work taking on something that is not my “core domain knowledge” taught me that i do actually have the innate capability to learn amazingly fast and become a knowledge holder. It translates into something very strong about myself- the fact that i can do new stuff every time i want to.

I traveled a lot during this past year. I did some really fun trips while i was in Delhi packing my bags and just heading out and lot of work trips. I learnt that i trust almost impromptu and as much as this can hurt it’s been a wonderful experience all this while. I traveled with people i “hardly knew” and went over to people i “hardly knew”. All the time its been wonderful experiences and so much fun. Trusting people is a cool thing to do, i learnt.

I transformed new friendships into long lasting relationships. As my first work place and a city i wasn’t too sure of, i met amazing new people and made friends. They have now become relationships for life and i learnt i am not that bad a person after all.

I learnt what office culture is about, how feelings and emotions are still a part of the cultural blood at small and socially driven organisations. I saw colleagues leave and learnt that corporate culture is very different from the socially driven organisations. I learnt that questions like “how are you driving a larger social agenda” become critical in the space i am working in. That these questions matter to every person who is a part of this movement.

I tried change. I experimented with change at a personal level, i moved out of the comfort zone i had set for myself and it did not work out perfect. I learnt a city grows on you and at the same time  you can come back to a familiar place like a perfect stranger! I realized distances become exponential and i can get lonely.

I met some really wonderful people along the way. I had moments and days of unexpected bliss and it helped me with my personal pain.

I fell in love and it broke a lot of my personal myths. I was of course also stupid and stupidly fearful of losing him and did not tell him enough how much he had become to me and did mange to lose him at the end. I am now waiting to fall out of the love i felt for this man. I also learnt i ain’t cut out for rebounds and that sex is totally over rated for me.

I started visiting my folks more often and realized they are getting older and i want more time with them even if it means spending most of it just convincing them why marriage is not my ultimate settling down plan.

I feared for my little brother more as he got into accidents and every time i learnt life really is that sensitive.

I saw a lot of close friends get married- arranged and love both. I saw the movement from apprehensions to acceptance of the idea to the pen ultimate question- why the hell am i doing this? I was a part of merriment, beautiful colors, grandeur and celebrations. I saw the pheras ceremony closely and it moved me- the vows that the two people take. I learnt that i am not there yet, mentally, to get into the institution.

I read some really interesting books. Stories that took me into a realm of characters and what we make of them. A lot of these stories made me want a home in the mountains and a baby.

I reconnected with friends i thought i had lost for life. But they walked right back in and its beautiful having them back.

I got a new tattoo and realized my threshold for pain somehow is a test for my mind as to how much i can really endure. Surprisingly its not so strong when it comes to the matters of the heart.

I lied at a lot of personal levels and am always hoping it doesn’t hurt me too much in the longer run.

I got truly inspired by the entrepreneur stories around me and have my own dream shaping up.

I put a closure on a chapter in my life and it feels good personally. I also learnt i will give it all up for a man i really fall for. I can hold my ground in my profession, nobody can challenge me there,but i will bow down to a mans will in my personal life.

The last one year has been an amazing roller coaster ride and such a rush. And now i want to get back to writing more.

Love Always Around Me!

Its interesting what BlogAdda and “Life is what you make it” have brought about on ‘Stages of Love’. Whats nice is what they say ” Because love isn’t only celebrated by partners after all. We are celebrating love at your adda. Share your love journey between you and your parents, siblings, friends, partner, kids and even pets!”

Love in my life grew right from the time i guess i saw how we were treated at home. My folks had a very typical eloped marriage. My dad being a fauji met my mom on one of his tenures in Dilli back in the summer of ’83. He was there in the HQ to get his posting orders, instead getting his posting cancelled so that he could stay on and woo my mom! He did manage that and what followed was a very typical bollywood saga. She being a punjaban wasnt accepted as the bahu and he being a kumaoni was not the ‘match’ my grandparents would have preferred. They eloped, got married and started a family with I being the first baby. Post marriage they fell into the usual family life pattern, it didnt matter to them that what one liked in the other and what they liked for each other! The kids became the centre of the universe and for him since he was growing up in his service his work was all he needed.
Interestingly they never told us that they belong to different parts of the country or that they have had a ‘love marriage’. For i and my little brother mom was always a kumaoni, although i was always curious how she spoke punjabi with her cousins etc. It was only when i turned 18 that my cousin told me the complete story! You can imagine my shock, excitement, bewilderment on discovering this!
The love between evolved as we grew up. As a kid i dont remember seeing my father too much at home and my mom was always too busy making us grow up as perfect kids! There love that time centered around what their kids become, what part of their lives they give to us. Once i had left home the moment i turned 18 and my brother followed two years later, they had time for themselves, for each other. I had always heard that testing times try your love for each other and that stands totally true for my folks. They fought, almost got a divorce and were so difficult that it amazed me! But then i saw a change in what they were becoming. My folks started doing little things for each other. It mattered to my mom that it was his birthday and she should get him something. It became important to my dad that if he is travelling somewhere he get her a little something.
I notice that there is that little something that keeps them bound together. They still find a lot of stuff annoying about each other, my mom still tells me at times ‘of all the gadhas written in my luck i find this one’. And yet they can never walk away from each other. Especially now when they don’t have the kids as their mission and have each other to be with completely. For me this is still the love story that i would want to have (yeah ok its a spot tied with DDLJ).

Love also means how i can be to people around me. My mom has been working with disabled children for over 3 years now and every time i see her with the little children, teaching the same thing every day and going back the next day knowing they don’t remember a thing amazes me! She come back home every evening knowing that the kids remember her fondly and goes back every morning that she has them around her. It given me the ability to see what unconditional love is all about. Just being able to give the kids those 5-6 hrs of un-matched happiness makes her smile throughout the day. This kind of love is what i believe i can imbibe in my life at every stage and take it forward.

Define “able body” for me will you?

Its been a while since i wrote here and yeah its been all about getting caught in the “new work new life” maze! There have been some topics in conversations, at work, just around me that i have wanted to put to paper but well just haven’t been doing that. So here goes after quite a break.
This one has got to do with my conversation the other day with my mother who works very closely with little children who are disabled. Now i don’t use the term with any solid ascription to the social usage, but being a legal person that’s the term that i have always used. She spends almost 5 hours with little children with various forms of disability and i do join her at her school when i go back home for vacations. She was talking to me the other day on how these children were growing up and how their chances at a normal life were so bleak.
I instantly related it to my work space where under the “Accessibility Initiative” we try to get more and more companies become sensitive towards this population. What was interesting is what my mother said and what the world perceives of disability. She said that ,”these children are just brought up with a mindset that there is just as much they can do and it’s we “able body people” who decide it”. It instantly made me relate to the way recruiters look at hiring from this segment of population. These individuals can or cannot do a job according to what we decide!
So bring whatever law you want, whatever you impose as reservations etc we will still have barriers. When these children don’t grow up believing that they are as much humans and capable as we are, how are we ever going to create an environment where they are accepted? Isn’t it time we accept the fact that we don’t deal with the problem right from its bud, we just want a superficial closure. If parents aren’t made to believe that every individual is able and has the right to a dignified life, then how will they bring up their children as resources of a nation?
Making an all-inclusive society needs redefining the terms not after the individual has been let into the big cruel world on his own but right from the time he/she takes birth. It’s pertinent to invest in mainstreaming these children right from childhood and then making them face the world. To redefine ‘able” is what we need to do to ensure that they live with as much dignity as anyone else.

The Youth, The Reservations and Super power India!!

Past couple of weeks have been very exciting for the country. We managed getting the Women reservation Bill through, Save the Earth by switching off the lights has become a huge campaign, virtual world becoming a factor for social cause has become huge and many more such events. I have been following these trends closely and reading comments, blogs about this stuff. Whats struck me has been the underlying current of focus on the youth, the school children, college students, young working people etc.
I can probably write about a lot of things here and link them but i somehow drew a connection between a few things i read. A post on what IIM-B has shown , the women reservation bill and the discussions surrounding them and what it means to me and this small initiative on facebook by kids of defence personnels.
The Reservation law has been discussed in detail all over with all its aspects being dissected and the whole topic of equality coming back to hound us. Honestly whether or not “Protective and Positive discrimination” is good or not is very contextual. India with all its myriad of cultural, traditional, religious dichotomies and adding to that its experiments with all kinds of reservations, does have what i can call a very skewed under standing of development. How and what of it is something i am sure can be a whole range of discussion all over again, but here i am drawing a link between this “ground breaking law” and the IIM-B news. The reservation law has been hailed as something that will bring in women to the political juncture and we will have the new age woman striding ahead in policy discussion process. The men all around have been talking about how getting more youth participating in this process is also needed. The Congress drew upon it young and vibrant band of leaders to get mileage in elections and still does actually. So reservation coming should actually be a reason for the youth and young women to get out and be there- becoming a part of the policy deciding structure right. despite what ever is being said and spoken about it shouldn’t it be something that positively encourages me to stand in the elections and try and become a part of that system? So for that comes the whole range of debate of this law helping only the “women from strong and powerful families” and what it will become. I am wondering then that are we such skeptics and actually have no faith in the “not so powerful family women” doing well. And secondly we have a lot of young people discussing this aspect too and therefore this kind of skepticism should have probably been followed by discussion on what this can mean as a future for young women who should get into politics. Maybe i have missed those kind of discussions but why is it that its not been so resounding! here i bring in the IIM-B post which is an indicator to me of what the youth is thinking actually. The organisation had absolutely no takers for social development sector despite the fact that the fee was being waived! two things disturb me- 1. the institution has to bring a “fee return” clause to make the social development field become lucrative! 2. A student saying that if “the trend catches up probably students will take it up”. Now when i read this i am able to draw a link between why a step like reservation which can be made a new step ahead has become a skeptical topic! If we have the Generation next not looking at social development as “lucrative” or “enterprising” or anything at all actually! So then how do we leverage this whole segment called “that-women-in-a-simple-life”? Why then do we complain that only the powerful will leverage this opportunity at all? The SC/ST reservation had a whole history that was not only started out wrong but also became a skewed reality when implemented. But why can’t we look at having more seats in the parliament etc as that one step at getting into the change mechanism! Are realities only meant to be dealt by “jhandaadhaari group”, only for speeches and not for the youth to get into at all! I look back at my under graduation days of law and the fact that out of a batch of 100 students in the college and many more in the university i was the only student who pursued human rights! There is nothing to boast about it but i do remember what my colleagues had to say. There were things like “i would rather have a safe career option” “i am not cut out for this” “you are passionate about causes”! So really are we to blame for this whole process of condemning the reservation law too soon without even realizing its worth!
I will say yes to this. The women today have this as an opportunity to utilize. maybe it is unfair on the men, i am no feminist, but then why not make social development a career choice? I look at this as a dismal portrayal of what we are becoming. Just like many other things we will dissect, post mortem everything and talk and discuss. But it isn’t “lucrative” so well why try it. Am i disheartened completely? Not really actually. I see discussions like these and i know there is a segment of youth which is talking. They are people who have seen what giving is all about. Coming from the defence the discussions there are what i call passionate and thought provoking. Am i biased? I come from the forces myself so yes i probably am but then i see that at least this can be taken forward. The youth is creating a dialogue of prospective roles in the politics of this country. Maybe that is the way forward which needs nurturing and guidance. Even if it is a group somewhere on a virtual world it’s at least something that makes me optimist and a believer that i will see some young guns break it out in the world of policy making soon.

Census to Become Disabled Friendly!

2011 will now be a more interesting year in terms of the Census happening and the population getting to be enumerated in the database. What is being discussed now is who all will be included in the census and what parameters will enumeration include. The disability sector has taken it as the next step to ensuring that the disabled in the country are no more invisible and have a more resounding voice in the matters concerning them. The news rooms have been constantly writing about what NCPEDP the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People an NGO has been doing for the same. As a first step it has got the government to include question related to disability and train the people who will be volunteering for the census process. Very effectively the organisation has been able to bring out how the enumeration process was a regular exercise in the British era and then was lost out! The census in 2001 had only one question and was hugely ineffective in getting the numbers right.
The disability sector has had to fight many a battles to ensure that they are given access to their rights and also at some level given protective discrimination for their growth. What came about with that is guarantees in form of laws and policies which were aimed at providing a growth stimulus for the disabled of the country. It becomes pertinent to note that though the law has been place for the longest time now whether or not it has been effectively implemented has been debated, discussed and brought to the government’s notice repeatedly. The laws though clearly indicate about how children with disabilities should be given inclusive eduaction, workplaces should become more disabled friendly, health facilities should become more readily available for the disabled and plethora of reports and findings by organisations etc stressing on the need to make the spaces around us more disabled friendly , the truth remained that the disabled did not get their due. Umpteen reports and investigations and studies indicated how the diabled were being condemned to a life which was dependent on others help, charity and whims of the abled.
With the enumeration demanded in the up coming census there are people discussing if this will help at all? With the implementing machinery in India always being at its worst its worth asking if it will really help to know how many disabled actually live in the country?
I believe that the numbers being accounted for will have a certain impact on how we look at disability as an issue in the country. Look at how the situation stands now- An access audit done by NCPEDP in colleges in Delhi gave a dismal state of affairs of the accessibility of the colleges. The reason that was glaring in the face is lack of awareness amongst the community. The same stands true for almost all the other sectors like employment etc. Lack of awareness, insensitivity by the abled community, poorly guided schemes are in some sense out comes of a collective voice being easily ignored. The disabled have been un accounted for in the counting of the people and therefore their statistics stand at whatever someone reads or hears from organisations etc. This does have an impact on how the “majority abled community” perceives disability. Enumeration in the census is expected to increase the numbers from the present 2.7% to about 5-6% which in terms of “inclusive” policy formulation and amendment of present laws becomes a big number. Service providance for the diabled and inclusive practices at educational institutes, work places, public places etc is a big problematic issue that has been the topic of discussion for a lot of decades and yet nothing seems to be done . The numbers being changed with the enumeration could mean that there will be acknowledgment of the fact that things have to be changed for the disabled.
Larger numbers always have an impact on the social psyche too. The society that has also been a hurdle in acceptance and mainstreaming of the disabled could become more sensitive by the numbers being brought about and told to the public. The public at large has always been affected when numbers have been portrayed to them in complete ways and the concept of charity and pity can give way to inclusive living and mainstreaming. Advocacy of disabled rights will also get a big leap when the numbers come out right and the community can seek increased grants, funds etc for the realization of rights of the disabled community. It is essential to keep in mind that the allocation of grants, funds, schemes are based upon the official numbers that a community has and therefore for the disabled section to be able to assert for more medical services, more grants for assisted mechanisms the increased correct numbers will hold a real value. Medical research and further technological advancement will also depend on the increased numbers becoming official and a part of notifications and government papers.
The disabled have been fighting for the realisation of their rights for a long time now and the up coming census will be a test for coming through of the campaign. The state’s real effectiveness will be show cased when the people doing the census are sensitised on the question to be asked during the census relating to disability. The state has been on the back foot for too long on the rights of the disabled and the census is that first step forward for this community to move ahead.

Stories and What They Become to Children:)

I have been doing story telling for children for a lot of time now, but never thought of writing about my experiences probably because it was always a part of my growing up. I am finally putting it down after being encouraged by wonderful people who are doing amazing things for children. So here i am sharing what amazing and wonderful wonder a child’s creativity is.
Over the years my story telling experience has been with different sets of children.
I remember my first story telling for our maids children back in class 7, when they came home for learning lessons. I would see the two kids just doing nothing in evenings and then got to know one of them was in nursery, the other in std 2 and the maid then one day asked my mother if i could help them with their lessons since they didn’t get much english exposure in the government school. I agreed and started my “tution” sessions (i liked the whole grown up feel actually!). After a week of figuring out “good mornings” and “good evenings” and almost two months of the elder one getting started on words, lines etc i noticed that the two kids looked fascinated by the whole lot of story books that used to lie around in my room. Since i never ever really got over my fairy tale, Enid blytons or classics i had a whole lot of them all over my room. The kids were always looking for a chance to see the pictures etc. So one day we sat down with the little red riding hood with all the big pictures and for an hour they just skimmed through the pictures. Then the elder one looked at me and asked me to tell them the story, which was a difficult thought because translating it to hindi and explaining it scared me. But the next day we started reading the story together, the elder one and me and the little one looking at us. We read through the first few pages with him repeating the lines after me and then getting an explanation from me as to what was happening and we did this for 3-4 days. The next week he picked up the book again and started to read the story (with my help on sentences etc where he stopped) and started to enact the story to his little sister. me and my brother became a part of the scene and suddenly we were 4 little children enacting the “Little red Riding Hood” and having a laugh.
At the end of it Manu(the boy learning english reading) started to talk about how the girl in the story could have lived in a different place and how he would have preferred a tiger to a wolf! It was probably nothing to me then, but i guess some where a little child was thinking on how he could change a story. Manu then started to bring his school text book of english for me to help with the stories in them. Although graphically not appealing he liked the idea of learning the words and knowing the story and then would imagine his own characters.
I still help such kids when ever am home on vacation etc and though am not home for too long a period i still see children warming up to the stories in their english text books once i start the process of reading them together and then enacting/almost enacting them.

Once i joined my under graduate course for law and would come back home for one month-two month leave periods i started going to the army schools to spend my time. Always too scared of what science and maths questions the grown up kids may ask i invariably went to the junior block. I love the way nursery to KG classes kids light up seeing those colorful books and nursery rhymes become so much more fun. These children have a way with words that you cannot understand initially but once you are into the story with them you realize its so much more. After the stories have been told i have seen the children draw the little princess’, the mouse or the tiger and in their own way imagine different stories and maybe expand their horizons about characters!
For kids between 1st to std 3 stories become a way of thinking. I have tried making the children draw, paint, write again stuff after they have read a story. Its always been amazing to see what the kids come with. Imagination takes wings and a lot of times children have given stories like cindrella etc a different look altogether in their depictions. With children from 4th standard onwards i have been able to do something what we call ‘lets write what we want”. Here i talk to the children about what they see around themselves and the class gets involved into the discussion when one kid talks about a little boy on the street or a girl talks about her little puppy she got home yesterday. Then we decide to write whatever we think about one of the chosen lead. So a little boy on the street becomes our protagonist and children then write a few lines, paras centering around him. They relate the topic to their lives, fictious characters etc. Some children bring in their noddy stories background too. What i do follow it up with is reading those ideas with all the kids around and more often i am asked by them to read mine. That leads us to at least trying and make children think about the world they see around themselves more closely. I do story telling twice or thrice with the kids in the school and for the month or two i am home i have had some very interesting ideas being bounced around.
For the grades above i try making them try and write stories how they want. I tell them they can write in any form, sentences, the flow doesn’t have to be what every book has and stories can take any form. So i have had some kids changing the form of the daily storybooks to what they want it to be and most of the times we have an amalgamation of so many ideas on scattered sheets of paper and yet so very resounding.
Story telling also has the power of creating a chain mechanism. We once did a story discussing session on what it meant to give with a happy heart and how we had to take out time for it.We decided that we will think about it and everyone had the chance to have their own hero for the story and what they thought was actually giving somebody something with a happy heart.The story could be developed in what ever the kids thought was a good form. This was with kids from 5-7th std. At a mess party i met a mother of one of the kids and she had a very interesting conversation to share. Her boy (Ryaan)was a part of the class and an avid reader. He was also a very strong participant in the story discussion class. After the whole discussion about giving he went back home and spoke to his mother asking if she gave her old clothes etc to the maid with a happy heart. He also asked her if like our protagonist in our story she knew she would do this even if there was a way of just disposing off the clothes and the old things in the house. That evening he spoke about his story with the maids son (who was his cricket buddy too) and the maids boy said to him, “i will give you my toffee if you want which i buy from the one rupee i get from home everyday, because you have been my cricket friend.” Ryaan came back home to tell his mother that this was giving with a happy heart and then started to share his stories with his cricket buddy every evening. Honestly i have so many kids that i probably don’t remember Ryaan’s story idea but i keep in touch with his mother and she tells me that he now helps his friend with his lessons.

When i help my mother with her kids at ASHA schools where she works with differently abled children, stories become a lot of things. For children who are able to comprehend things the characters in the books become something that they talk about amongst themselves. For a child with more serious nervous disorder he sits around and watches the books with a lot of attention and pictures are fascinating to them. Then when i try teach them simple words like king, queen, or maybe apple over and over again, some day randomly a kid picks up the book and points out to the king or the queen or the apple. For me their level of understanding is so beautiful that i still them stories while i help a kid make a castle out of the jig saw. Who knows what really is sinking into him/her and what it becomes to them.
I saw this movie “Happily Never After” which started with things like centuries after centuries the stories have had the same endings, the same lines and the movie itself does end on a happy note.I have made children see it and a lot of them do like what it says and love giving stories their own shapes. So for me story telling, reading,sharing are all such wonderful experiences that its never enough.
I was once asked, how do stories happen” and i said “people happen to us and then stories become as if they were meant to be…” So i guess what we tell out children, narrate to them become a part of them to keep…FOREVER…

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