Posted by ramblinginthecity
I was back at Bookaroo yesterday, and it was a whole different experience. Why? Because this time, I was accompanying Aadyaa. Not only is she a totally different person, but she is only four and a half. And a crowd of people looks very different from the eyes of a child who is four and a half. No no, she isn’t shy or afraid of crowds. But I didn’t really see many little ones that age or thereabouts who could concentrate on a story being told in a venue with nearly a hundred people listening in. The kids got there by enthusiastic parents, the parents who would have enjoyed the narration but for their anxiety that their little ones weren’t paying attention and looking here and there, or eating, or wanting to go elsewhere.
So this is how the Sunday visit to the Bookaroo played out for us. We attended the first session with Anupa Lal was telling the children stories in Hindi. Now, this got Aadyaa’s attention as she is most familiar with Hindi as a language of narration and conversation. At home, I have to tell all her favorite stories (Peter Pan, Clifford, Rapunzel, Lion King..) in translation. So Anupa Lal’s story about a ghost and a boy got some of her attention, though she kept asking for biscuits and munching through this, not because she was hungry but because she wasn’t totally involved in the event!
We then took a walk through the venue and the sandpit, the steps, the green grass was far more interesting than any of the workshops, activities and narrations. The attempt to sit through Penny Dolan’s animal stories in which she used small soft toys as props, was not successful. I honestly think smaller groups would have worked much better for the little ones, but I can see how that is a logistics nightmare!
So I gave up, and decided to enjoy the sunshine and the charms of Anandgram as a location instead of getting stressed about how much exposure I was giving my little one! We migrated to the little raised platform with the large terracotta horses. And Aadyaa and her pal Eva proceeded to spend the rest of the outing playing ‘ghar-ghar’ at the Bookaroo, eating ice cream and running around!
Moral of the story: What will be will be, go with the flow and without expectations, if you are to truly enjoy time with a bunch of kindergarten children 🙂
They will make up their games and play. Company, outdoor spaces, interesting spaces and unconditional love from a trusted adult, and maybe some food and drink thrown in (and ice-cream), that’s pretty much all they need!
While we judge foreigners writing on India harshly, Indians writing on India can be hypocritical as well! Apr 23, 2012
Posted by ramblinginthecity
Patrick French, author of ‘India: A portrait’ wrote an enlightening piece in this Sunday’s Hindustan Times. He wonders why the Indian establishment of writers and critics is so touchy about foreigners writing or expressing themselves about India, when the same bunch are happy to be feted and accepted in the international media?
To me, the touchiness that Indians exhibit has always struck me as a peculiar trait. We simply have no sense of humor, especially when the joke is on us. That is true of Indians as individuals as much as it is true of us as a society, as a nation. So it isn’t surprising that we are sensitive about what people of foreign origin write/think/say about us, while we feel at liberty to create and believe in stereotypes (and make fun of these!) about the rest of the world.
However, the piece really got me thinking about Indian writings about India. There is this particular type of writing that is about India, but very obviously caters to a foreign audience. The type that picks on the quirks and then explains them in a terribly simplistic fashion. And the type that caricatures a very specific situation, but makes it sound like a norm. The type that paints India in a deliberately negative or ridiculously positive light for dramatic effect alone. I am all for artistic license and freedom of expression, but when you read stuff that is being written with the obvious thought of packaging it for those who do not know India first hand, exploiting the fact that India is a hot flavor in the international market and there is tremendous curiosity for things Indian, it gets a bit much! For those of us who live here and can see through the gimmicks in these books, they can be a humiliating experience.
And where is the category of Indian writers who live here, but write in the global context? Because India sells easy, do we writers in India not bother to step outside the context we are familiar with and create characters and narratives set in other geographical and cultural contexts? Are we then scared of the criticism, the quality of our research? Are we defensive as well?