Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lit-sutra Writer Tours

Via British Council

China Mieville : 3rd March, 6 pm
China Mieville : 4th March, 11am
Andy Diggle, Denise Mina and Sarnath Banerjee : 4th March, 6pm

Mark Billingham : 27th February

Andy Diggle and Denise Mina : 3rd March, 3pm

Mark Billingham, Denise Mina and China Mieville : 28th February, 6pm

China Mieville : 1st March, 3pm and 6.30pm

Andy Diggle, Mark Billingham, Denise Mina and China Mieville : 2nd March, 6pm

Mark Billingham and Denise Mina : 1st March, 4pm
China Mieville : 5th March, 11am and 6pm

Click on the image above to see details of the events.

Image Source

Booklaunch: Under the Poetree

Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad's invite to the booklaunch of 'UNDER THE POETREE' on 27th February 2010 (Saturday) at 10:30am at the Akshara Bookstore. Please click on the image below for a larger view.

(Via Chintan. Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

Radio Mirchi and Pratham Books Join Hands to Share Stories with Blind Children

Remember this story : Radio Mirchi's Initiative to Reach Out to the Visually Challenged ?

A quick recap for those who don't remember : When we tweeted about the voice volunteers of the Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library, our friends @owos mentioned that Radio Mirchi had done something similar. A quick Google search ensued and with an email address at hand, a mail was sent out to the Radio Mirchi team.A few days later, we managed to speak to Pallavi from the Radio Mirchi team. The aim was to ask about their CSR initiative of recording books for the National Association of the Blind and write a blog post about it. During the course of the conversation, we got talking about Pratham Books. And thanks to some of our Creative Commons licensed books, our books were readily available for them to record.

Where would these audio books go? To the National Association of the Blind.

Recently we received some of the audio books recorded by Radio Mirchi and we were delighted to hear the results. Crowding around a laptop, we listened to the recording with a child-like eagerness. The recordings were so good that everyone in the room was smiling and clapping by the end of the story. The Radio Mirchi team has done a fantastic job and we are sure that the children who hear these stories will have smiles as big as the ones on our faces.

And we have more news...Radio Mirchi has agreed to record more books with us. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy! More books in more languages and more access for more kids.

A big THANK YOU to :

- Pallavi Rao from Radio Mirchi for coordinating this project
- Barkha Deva, who shared her experience on Twitter and then volunteered to record one of our books (Moon and the Cap was recorded by Barkha in English)
- All the people who helped record the books
- Rohit Suppal (@owos) for telling us about Radio Mirchi's CSR project

And we couldn't help but share the wonderful job done by the Radio Mirchi team. So, here goes.... It is storytime!

(Note : 1. If the links audio links do not work when you click on them, please right click and open them in a new window or download the file to listen to them.
2. If you are receiving this blog post in an email or through an RSS feed and cannot see the audio link, please open the link in a new page.)

Annual Haircut Day-English-Radio Mirchi

Annual Haircut Day-Urdu-Radio Mirchi

Moon and the Cap-English-Radio Mirchi

NOTE: If you do use this content to create more content, please share it back with us so there is more material for visually impaired children. Please credit Radio Mirchi for the audio conversion, Pratham Books for the content and the author of the books (Noni) for providing the story. If you do use this content to create more content, please share it back with us so there is more material for visually impaired children. We would rather that you do not use this material commercially.

This audio material is licensed under Creative Commons License
This work by Radio Mirchi, Pratham Books, Noni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License..

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yakking Away at HOO's Tales

Over 50 children gathered at the Art & Story Hut at Cubbon Park to make glove puppets and listen to the reading of 'Yakity Yak'. The session was part of Hoo's Tales, the carnival of stories, organised by Hippocampus Book Council.

Children from various private and government schools sat engrossed as Mala Kumar, Editor at Pratham Books, read out the story of the talkative yak, with ample assistance from a glove yak puppet. Artist Bhargavi Satyan who had made the smart puppet was the cynosure of all eyes as she brought out pieces of paper from the boxes set on the table. Every child wanted to make a puppet too. Soon the hut was full of eager children asking for 'pink ears', yellow 'fur', brown 'legs', black 'horns', all of which Bhargavi had lovingly cut and brought to the venue. With Gum Man Puttaswamy's help, colourful yaks sprung up. So what if some of the yaks had mis-matched ears, the children had fun, and the story of 'Yakity Yak' delighted them!

We enjoyed the show too, as our Brand Assistant Balkrishna's pictures show. We thank all the parents who helped with crowd management and were instrumental in the making of all the cute paper yaks.

All it Takes is Aspiration

A few years ago, while I worked as a journalist, someone said to me that even though we try so hard, we cannot change the mindset of Indians towards education. That thought stayed in my mind and I discussed it with my Editor.

We decided to do a story, which simply put, focussed on Aspiration.

On the trail of the story, I met a Principal who in passing, mentioned that her 5 star International Baccalaureate (IB) school had a few students whose parents had never seen a school, let alone been to one. Picking up on that, we visited a tiny village in Haryana, where the scene was exactly as expected. A mother cooking the evening dinner at a chulha, the father smoking a hookah and enjoying his tea from a steel tumbler, cows and buffaloes let loose to graze and the house itself, an open, Zamindari bungalow passed down from one generation to another. The only difference their two children, studied in Class 1 and Class 3, at a private IB school where they paid a five figure amount for each child per semester. The reason, Aspiration. They did not want their children to grow up to be like them. The mother said, her daughter should eat 'Pijjas' not cook rotis on a chulha.

Next bit that stayed with me was the resolve of hundreds of students who leave their home far behind, travel to a metro to attend coaching classes, stay ten students to one tiny room in the back alleys of the metro and study through the night, all because they want to pass that competitive exam. All because they were the first ones in their village to go to school and want to continue achieving new firsts.

I did not have to look too far for case studies. At home, my domestic help worked and cooked at five different houses so she could have enough money to send her child not to a corporation school but to the private school in the neighbourhood. She took days off to attend parent-teacher meetings and made sure her child did her homework on time. Sure enough, results showed. Her child was in the top 5 of her class.

The idea of giving your child an education changes daily in India. Lots of factors come into play. For parents sending their children to small corporation schools it is about making sure their children get one hot meal a day. For others it is a simple way of making sure their children move up the social strata.

These may be small examples, but in their own small way they seem justified and a world of change from their predecessors.

Well, sometimes all you need is to open your eyes and believe what you are seeing in front of you.

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a reporter with NDTV for almost 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

Image Source : The Advocacy Project

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Am I barking at the moon?

Yes, it’s me Dolly again the four-legged writer!
A wag of the tail for those of you who remember me from last week, and licks for those of you who actually wrote in telling me that you enjoyed my rant. I am glad there are some of you who appreciated me and your kind words have really helped, especially this week. ‘Cos guess what? I got a rejection letter this week. And gloom is me!
So if you think that picture of that snooty pug who lives two houses away, looking sad because someone stole his chewy toy is sad, I am quite a lot sadder.
It’s been hard to find the spirit to lift that tail and come out of it. I’ve pretty much been passing the week slinking around, tail slung between my legs or lying beneath Shweta’s bed with my head on my paws. The neighborhood community howl sessions did help me get out of it a little bit though. And mid-howl, the thought occurred to me, I’m not the only one who’s ever had a rejection letter right? I hear that a novel about a talking seagull got rejected twenty three times before readers finally got to lay their hands on it. So maybe I need a lot of rejections to make me the most successful writer ever right? I sure as hell hope not, because that letter my two-legged friend was so painful, that I doubt I can take a lot more of those. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!
Dear Dolly,
Thank you for your recent submission to the ‘Living with Pets’ Anthology. Unfortunately, I have decided to pass on your story. This is not reflective of the quality of your writing, I just didn't feel it was a good fit for this anthology.
I hope you will continue to submit your work us and wish you the best of luck in all of your writing endeavors.

Sigh. Each time I re-read that my heart sinks a little lower and I feel much older than my ten dog years.
I don’t get it. If I was rejected how is it not reflective of my writing? And if I a dog cant make it to a Pets anthology, then on what grounds do I resubmit work to these publishers?
Each time a rejection letter comes by I get the feeling that I’m barking at the moon. Maybe all the quotable things about everything have already been quoted.
Maybe all the possible stories about everything possible have been told.
Maybe my bark does sound exactly like that sad pug who stays two houses away…
Wait a minute, that’s not right! Even if we howl about the exact same things, we sound totally different! And that’s what counts right? Now where do I get a publisher who gets that?
Oh well here’s hoping that this week is not all about living the stereotypical dogs life.
So with as much spirit I can muster here’s a wag for all of you,
Yours truly,

Image source : tickr/Flickr_pug
Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a journalist turned NGO activist turned Writer/Blogger/Author who finds bliss in traveling to places known and unknown! She blogs about life, travels and food here , here and here
And can be followed on twitter here

Dr. Seuss Cakes

Found a link to some Dr Seuss related cakes on @mediamacaroni's Twitter stream ...

Via Cake Wrecks

View more cakes here.

Image Source

Indicorps Fellowship : House of Books

Via Indicorps

In 1990, 30 youth from various colleges in Chandigarh started a newspaper named Yuvsatta, which means youth power. The newspaper evolved into an organization (registered in 1996) that steers young people towards voluntary individual & community action.

Today, Yuvsatta is primarily a volunteer-run organization with a permanent staff of 20.

Need for Project:
To encourage holistic development of the children living in Bapu Dham, Yuvsatta started a volunteer-run library. Yuvsatta procured several hundred books with the help of funds raised by volunteers of ‘Be the Cause‘, ‘Children’s Suitcase Library’ and members of Yuvsatta. Books available vary from story books to animation series, books on basic science, computers and spoken English. Children have to pay a nominal fee of Rs.10 for membership to ensure ownership and responsibility from their side. Kitab Ghar currently has 300 members.

As an August 2010 Indicorps Fellow, you will infuse the Kitab Ghar with energy and make it a popular hub for the community. There are three different layers to this project.

Popularizing Kitab Ghar:
You will need to think of creative ways to increase the Kitab Ghar traffic. Poetry recitals, literary events, book readings, and cultural performances could make Kitab Ghar a vibrant hub of community activity. You can also conduct focused theme weeks with poster competitions, debates, guest speakers and documentary screenings. Book fairs, discussion groups, and family memberships could all attract more members to the Kitab Ghar.

Tuition Program:
You will strengthen and expand the existing English and math tuition program being conducted at Kitab Ghar. At present, 40-50 children attend these tuition classes. However, classes are not formally structured and attendance is irregular.

Volunteer Program:
You will manage the current volunteer system as well as recruit and engage more volunteers at Kitab Ghar. This could begin with an understanding of the number of existing volunteers and their reasons for staying connected. Understanding what drives them will help you devise an outreach mechanism that draws other like-minded citizens to the fold.
Read more here and read about Yuvsatta here.

(Thanks for sending us this link Chintan! Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

Image Source : The Advocacy Project

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Scholastic Aviva Storytelling Night

Via Siyahi's Facebook page

Every child loves to hear stories. As part of the efforts to encourage children to read and love books, Scholastic India has started a nation-wide series of Storytelling Night. It has already been started in Delhi, and there are plans to organise it in ten other cities across India every three months.

Jaipur will witness its first Storytelling Night on Friday, February 26, 5:30 pm onwards at MELA. Deepa Agarwal, Sushmita Mukherjee, Vaijayanthi Savant Tonpe and Vivek Gopal will read out stories to the kids. There is no age limit for this exhilarating event. Storytelling Night is an occasion to celebrate stories, and to go back to an earlier time when gathering and listening to stories was a part of every child's life.
More information here.

Image Source

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Spotted a short video on Daniel H. Pink's new book. Today, the Pratham Books team is meeting to discuss and brainstorm about how we can get more books into the hands of more kids. About how we can help spread literacy and manage to create the fantastic worlds that books took us to when we were kids. This video is an apt video for a day like this.

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

We know that we want our sentence (as an organization) to be 'a book in every child's hand'. As we work towards new goals and work on new ideas, THANK YOU ALL for helping us along the way. Feel free to send us any ideas you may have on how our books can be used, people/organizations you want us to meet or talk to and help us build this small little community we have here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

कुछ आपबीती कुछ जगबीती

(21st February is International Mother Language Day and we have a series of posts related to this subject on our blog today. This post has been written by Manisha Chaudhry from our editorial team)

हाल में एक प्रकाशक मित्र ने पूछा की बचपन की यादों की कंदराओं में कौन सी हिंदी की कहानी छुपी बैठी है?
यादों को टटोला तो सबसे पहली छवि 'पराग' की उभरी. "आओ मेरी खिड़की में बैठो" और जाने कितने स्तम्भ जिनको पढने का बेसब्री से इंतज़ार होता था और भाई बहनों में छीना झपटी हो जाती थी. उम्र के साथ 'धर्मयुग', 'कादम्बिनी', 'नवनीत', 'सापताहिक हिंदुस्तान' में माँ की चहेती शिवानी, मालती जोशी, मेहरुन्निसा परवेज़, मन्नू भंडारी, राजेंद्र यादव और कभी कभार कमलेश्वर जी से परिचय बढ़ाने का मौका मिलने लगा.

जब तक भारी भरकम उपन्यासओं को उठाने-निभाने का आत्मविश्वास नहीं आया था तब तक पाठ्य पुस्तक के संकलन जिंदाबाद जिनके ज़रिये प्रेमचंद, जयशंकर प्रसाद, दिनकर बच्चन से मुलाक़ात हुई. महादेवी वर्मा की मर्म स्पर्शी लेखनी भी कहीं दिल की गहरायिओं तक उतर कर ऐसी बैठी की आज भी 'अतीत के चलचित्र' और 'श्रंखला की कड़ियाँ' मेरे अतीत और वर्तमान की श्रंखला का हिस्सा बन गयी हैं.

आज जब मेरे बच्चे उन्हीं लेखकों का सामना सिर्फ कोर्स के हिस्से के रूप में करते हैं तो कहीं यह ख्याल मन को कचोटता है की उनका रिश्ता मात्री भाषा से, अपनी मादरेज़ुबान से इंतना क्यों बदल गया? क्यों मुझे एक सांस्कृतिक पर्यटक के जैसे उन्हें ईद गाह के हामिद के साथ कसबे के रास्तों में घुमाना ज़रूरी हो जाता है? क्यों मन्नू भंडारी की 'अकेली' में एक बेसहारा स्त्री की वेदना और उसकी जिजीविषा उनको छू सके इससे पहले रिश्तों, मोहल्लों, बिरादरियों स्त्री विमर्श से जुड़े कितने वार्तालाप मुझे करने पड़ते हैं. मेरे दोनों बच्चों को हरी पोट्टर पढ़ते समय ऐसी कोई ज़रुरत नहीं हुई. आज जब वे 'टु सर विथ लव' पढ़ते हैं जो उनके परिवेश से भिन्न है, तो भी उन्हें उसे समझने में कोई अड़चन नहीं आती.

पर हिंदी साहित्य के साथ ऐसी मुश्किलें क्यों आती हैं? कहीं हम वैश्वीकरण से इतने अभिभूत तो नहीं हो गए हैं की हमे अपना घर का पता, अपना परिवेश बिसारना भी सामान्य लगता है? विश्व बाज़ार में अपना स्थान बनाने के लिए हम बड़े फक्र से कहते हैं की भारत में मध्य वर्ग की कितनी बड़ी संख्या अंग्रेजी अच्छी बोलती है. पर मुए अँगरेज़ हमारी अंग्रेजी की खिल्ली उड़ाने से बाज़ नहीं आते हैं! इन्दिअनिस्म्स को चटखारे ले ले के सुनाते हैं!
सच तो यह है की मध्य वर्ग का अधिकाँश भाग अंग्रेजी पढ़ लिख लेता है पर यह बहुत निम्न स्तर का भाषाई ज्ञान है. अंग्रेजी के उत्कृष्ट साहित्य से उनका कोई वास्ता नहीं पड़ा है. साथ ही, अपनी भाषाओं से उसका रिश्ता कमज़ोर होता जा रहा है. अपनी भाषाओं के साहित्य क्या ज्ञान तो उन्हें नहीं के बराबर है. हमें अपने विचार भावनाओं की सरल, सहज अभिव्यक्ति के लिए किसी भाषा पे तो अधिकार होना चाहिए.

संस्कृति निरंतर रूपांतरित होती रहती है और आर्थिक सामाजिक परिवेश के साथ उसका बदलना स्वाभाविक है. मीडिया का प्रभाव भी हमारे जीवन की नयी वास्तविकता का अभिन्न हिस्सा हो चला है और भाषा भी इससे अछूती नहीं रह सकती परन्तु अपनी भाषा उससे जुडी संस्कृति को हम जिस उपेक्षा से देख रहे हैं उसे देख के ज़रूर ऐसा लगता है की कहीं हम अपने ही देश में पर्यटक बन जाएँ. कहीं ऐसा हो की हम अपनी संस्कृति को अपने प्यार से इतना वंचित कर दें की हमारे बच्चों को इंडियन studies विभागों के माध्यम से अपनी दादी नानियों के परिवेश को समझना पड़े.

क्या यह एक 'भाषा fundamentalist' की गुहार है? क्या यह एक हिंदी पढ़ाने वाली त्रस्त माँ की पुकार है? या अपनी भाषा से अपनेपन का रिश्ता बनाने का इसरार है?!

Hindi Aur Hum

(21st February is International Mother Language Day and we have a series of posts related to this subject on our blog today. This post has been written by our guest blogger Choxbox. Choxbox believes that education is the key to changing lives and works for an NGO that rehabilitates abandoned girl children. She lives in Bangalore where she often goes for walks with her two children and always comes back amazed by the drama of life. Visit her blog :

One time when my firstborn was an infant I took her for a regular check-up to the surgery (as a clinic is called in the UK) and as I was unwrapping the layers off her I kept 'talking' to her. The doctor turned around and started listening with interest. Then she proceeded to give me a pamphlet which talked about bilingual children and explained the correct way of introducing a second language to her because otherwise it could result in speech delay. I thanked her but was also slightly amused - after all, it is normal for a child growing up in India to learn several languages at the same time. By age 5, I could speak Gujarati (my mother tongue), Hindi (albeit the Hyderabadi version!), Telugu and English. And I was known to be a total chatterbox from the minute I entered the world (still are one, I can hear 'em say) and speech delays seemed to have pretty much missed me.

We noted with interest that folks who had moved countries could broadly be categorized into two types: one bunch who'd go out of their way and get their kids to speak only in English so that they would be able to integrate better, a fact borne out when school admission assessments come around - some private schools clearly prefer children who can speak fluent English with the local accent. Then the other bunch, like us, who'd go equally out of their way to ensure their kids absolutely spoke only their native tongue till they went to school - because hey they'd anyway learn English later right? We were so fanatic about the idea that we switched over to Hindi (the husband's language) so that the kid could hear it around. In our quest to find more resources (no youtube then remember?!) we hunted down a couple of audio cassettes. This is how we bumped into Karadi Tales' Bandar Bindaas Bandar compilation. Every India visit thereafter would find us searching for more stuff we could use. And as happens sometimes, we became more desi than folks in India and thus landed in the interesting situation where our daughter would speak to her Bharat-nivaasi cousin in Hindi and he would reply in English!

We waited till the concept of English letters and sounds was mastered and fluent reading kicked in before we introduced Hindi letters. In one of the talks for parents in her school I saw how language is taught in the Montessori methodology. I was floored. In our next des trip I dragged along my ever-willing-to-help FIL, my children (one outside and one inside me) and myself to Turkman Gate - I had learnt from a family friend that a supplier of Montessori materials lived somewhere there. With a vague idea of where to find him, we marched up and down the labyrinth of lanes, some of which were so narrow that not even the rickshaw could go in. Finally we arrived at a dark and dank workshop and met A Bhai, a frail old Muslim gentleman who talked to us only after he noticed how excited I was upon seeing the stuff he'd created. He crafted a beautiful Maatra Box (or the Hindi Moveable Alphabet) for us. Wooden letters from this and a wall chart saw us through the initial learning of Hindi letters.

Next we moved to the maatras. I told stories of how 'aa' and her friends up to 'ahaa' are a rather busy bunch and hence send representatives called 'maatras' when they are needed. Once she got this concept and the fact that consonants in Hindi already have the 'uh' sound unlike in English, it was all a piece of cake. Teaching Hindi was simple because it is phonetic. No complications at all.

At this point I needed books. Ones which would interest her. On the next annual trip to India I did rounds of the local bookstores only to find textbooks and some very basic non-textbooks. It was then that I bumped into Pratham Books via a friend who volunteered for them in London. I was thrilled to bits and that would be an understatement. I could not believe their prices and placed an order like a kid in a candy store. The low prices meant that I could buy the same book in both English and Hindi, something I thought would help comprehend the nuances of the two different languages. Imagine my delight when I discovered bilingual books when they came into the market later! I now know of many publishers who bring out awesome books in several Indian languages and one is literally spoilt for choice.

We happened to eventually move back to India. It has been a huge plus point that the kids knew Hindi - for one it did not restrict our school options and for the other they picked up Kannada in no time given that the structure of most Indian languages is similar. We loved that they could communicate beautifully with their great-grandmother and also talk easily with the kids in the street or with anyone else. And I guess it helps them understand and appreciate the drama of everyday life in this beautiful chaotic country better.

Image Source : tanvi_s19in

श्यामची आई-आनंदाचा ठेवा.

(21st February is International Mother Language Day and we have a series of posts related to this subject on our blog today. This post has been written by Sandhya Taksale from our editorial team)

श्यामची आई हे पुस्तक म्हणजे मराठी बाल-कुमार साहित्यातला अनमोल संस्कारांचा ठेवा. एक अभिजात साहित्यकृती.

२०१० हे या पुस्तकाचं अमृतमहोत्सवी वर्ष. सलग ७५ वर्ष एखादं पुस्तक जनमानसात रुजून बसणं ही काही सोपी गोष्ट नाहीं. आईचं प्रेम हे या पुस्तकाचं मध्यवर्ती सूत्र.

एका साध्या, बाळबोध, सुसंस्कृत घराण्यातल्या संस्कृतीचं आणि त्या वेळच्या समाजाचं चित्रण या पुस्तकात आलं आहे. श्यामची आई म्हणजे साने गुरुजींच्या बालपणीच्या आठवणी. तुमच्या आमच्या बालपणासारख्या त्या रम्य-सुंदर मात्र नाहीत.हे बालपण खडतर आहे, गरीबीचं आहे. पण या सगळ्याला पुरुन उरतो, तो आईनं कलेला प्रेमाचा वर्षाव, दिलेली मूल्यं आणि कोणत्याही खडतर प्रसंगातून आपलं चारित्र्य अभंग राखून बाहेर कसं पडायचं याचं मिळालेलं शिक्षण.

या कादंबरीच्या रचनेतही वेगळेप़ण आहे. श्याम आपल्या मित्रांना रोज रात्री एक याप्रमाणे ४२ रात्री आपल्या आईच्या आठवणी सांगतो. अतिशय साधी, सोपी आणि ह्रदयाला हात घालणारी भाषा हे याचं वैशिष्ट्यं.

साने गुरुजींच्याच शब्दात सांगायचं तर" ह्रदयातला सारा जिव्हाळा इथे ओतला आहे. या गोष्टी लिहिताना माझे ह्रदय अनेकदा गहिवरून आणि उचंबळून आले आहे."

स्वातंत्र्यसेनानी म्हणून १९३३ मध्ये नाशिकच्या तुरुंगात असताना पाच दिवसात साने गुरुजींनी या आठवणी लिहून काढल्या. १९३५ मध्ये पुस्तकाची पहिली आवृत्ती प्रसिध्द झाली. या पुस्तकानं प्ऱभावित झाला नाही असा वाचक विरळा. आचार्य प्र. के. अत्रे यांनी त्यावर काढलेला चित्रपटही खूप गाजला आणि त्याला राष्ट्रपतींचं पहिलं सुवर्णकमळ मिळालं.

साने गुरुजी हे महात्मा गांधीचा प्रभाव असलेले स्वातंत्र्यसेनानी, विचारवंत होते. त्यांनी सत्याग्रहात भाग घेतला, भूमीगत राहून चळवळ चालवली. पंढरपूरच्या विठ्ठल मंदिरात दलितांना प्रवेश मिळावा म्हणून आमरण उपोषणाला बसले. सर्वात महत्वाचं म्हणजे भारतीय संस्कृतीचं भान असलेले ते लेखक होते.

'भारतातल्या प्रांताप्रांतात हेवेदावे असू नयेत, एकमेकांनी एकमेकांच्या भाषा शिकाव्या, चालीरीती समजून घ्याव्यात यासाठी ते प्रयत्न करीत.

आंतर भारती हे त्यांचं स्वप्नं होतं. यासाठीच आजच्या मातृभाषादिनी त्यांची आठवण ठेवणं फार गरजेचं आहे.

मराठीवर नितांत प्रेम करून, त्यात श्यामच्या आई'सारखं जागतिक दर्जाचं साहित्य त्यांनी लिहिलं. इतर भाषांतलं साहित्य मराठीत आणलं.

त्या भाषांचा आदर केला.

आज गरज आहे ती याच विचारांची.

Image Source


(21st February is International Mother Language Day and we have a series of posts related to this subject on our blog today. This post has been written by our guest blogger Naga Chokkanathan. Naga Chokkanathan , writes with pen name “N. Chokkan”. He is the author of 30+ tamil books, some of which are translated in English. He lives in Bangalore and works for CRMIT Solutions Private Limited. He regularly blogs at )

1998ம் வருடம் ஜூலை மாதத் தொடக்கம். நாங்கள் செகந்தராபாத் ரயில் நிலையத்தில் வந்து இறங்கியபோது எங்களை வரவேற்க ஒரு நண்பன் காத்திருந்தான்.

அவனும் கோயம்பத்தூரில் எங்களோடு படித்தவன்தான். கடைசி வருடக் கேம்பஸ் இண்டர்வ்யூ(வளாக நேர்முகத் தேர்வுகள்?)க்களில் எங்கள் எல்லோருக்கும் கிட்டத்தட்ட ஒரே நேரத்தில் (ஆனால் வெவ்வேறு கம்பெனிகளில்) வேலை கிடைத்தது. அவன் எங்களுக்குச் சில வாரங்கள்முன்பாகவே செகந்திராபாத் வந்து செட்டிலாகிவிட்டான்.

அதுவும் ஒருவிதத்தில் நல்லதுதான். பாஷை தெரியாத ஊரில் போய்த் திண்டாடுவதைவிட, அவனுடன் தொற்றிக்கொள்வது சௌகர்யம்.

அவனுக்கும் அது பாஷை தெரியாத ஊர்தான். ஆனால் சில நாள் அனுபவம் இருக்கிறதில்லையா? அந்த தைரியத்தில் எங்களை வரவேற்க வந்துவிட்டான்.

ரயிலில் இருந்து இறங்கியவுடன் அவனிடம் நான் கேட்ட முதல் கேள்வி, ’இங்க தமிழ்ப் பேப்பர், புத்தகம்ல்லாம் கிடைக்குமா?’

’எனக்குத் தெரியாது’ அலட்சியமாகச் சொன்னான் அவன், ‘போலாமா?’

நாங்கள் எங்களுடைய பெட்டி, படுக்கை, பைகளைச் சேகரித்துக்கொண்டு பிரம்மாண்டமான செகந்திராபாத் ரயில் நிலையத்தை அளந்தபடி நடந்தோம், ‘இங்கிருந்து ஹைதராபாத் எவ்ளோ தூரம்?’

’பக்கம்தான்’ என்றான் அவன், ‘இது ரெண்டும் ட்வின் சிட்டீஸ் ஆச்சே!’

எனக்கு ‘ட்வின் சிட்டீஸ்’ என்பதன் அர்த்தம் தெரியாது. ’இரட்டை நகரங்கள்’ என்று தமிழில் சொன்னாலும் புரியாது. வெறுமனே தலையாட்டிவைத்தேன்.

அன்றைக்கு நாங்கள் செகந்திராபாதில் அவனுடைய அறையிலேயே தங்கிக்கொண்டோம். மறுநாள் தொடங்கி ஹைதராபாதில் எங்களுக்கென்று தனி அறை தேடுவதாகத் திட்டம்.

21 மணி நேரப் பயணக் களைப்பில் நன்கு தூங்கி எழுந்தபிறகு, குளித்துவிட்டு வெளியே வந்தோம். அசட்டுத் தித்திப்பு சாம்பாருடன் தோசை சாப்பிட்டுவிட்டு ரோட்டில் இறங்கியபோது, ஒரு புத்தகக் கடை கண்ணில் பட்டது.

கோயம்பத்தூரில் எனக்குப் புத்தகக் கடைகள்தான் திருத்தலங்கள். அதிலும் பழைய புத்தகக் கடைகள் என்றால் சாஷ்டாங்க நமஸ்காரத்துக்குத் தயாராகிவிடுவேன். சாய்பாபா காலனி, காந்திபுரம், டவுன்ஹால் ஏரியாக்களில் ஒரு கடையை விட்டுவைத்தது கிடையாது. மாத நாவல்கள், தொடர்கதை பைண்டிங்குகள், லைப்ரரியிலிருந்து திருடிவரப்பட்ட (அல்லது எடைக்கு அள்ளிக்கொண்டுவந்த) புத்தகங்கள், வார, மாத இதழ்கள் என்று Dust Allergyயைக்கூடப் பொருட்படுத்தாமல் புரட்டிப்போட்டு மேய்ந்திருக்கிறேன். அப்பா எனக்குக் கொடுக்கும் பாக்கெட் மணியில் 70% (மிகை இல்லை) புத்தகங்களுக்குதான் செலவாகும்.

ஆனால் இப்போது, இரண்டு நாளாக ஒரு தமிழ் எழுத்தைக்கூடப் பார்க்காமல் தவித்துப்போயிருந்தேன். ரயில் வரும் வழியெல்லாம் ஜிலேபி ஜிலேபியாகத் தெலுங்கு அட்சரங்கள்தானே!

‘செகந்திராபாத்ல எல்லா தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகையும் உடனே கிடைக்கும்’ என்று யாரோ ஒரு நண்பர் தைரியம் சொல்லியிருந்தார். ஆகவே, அந்தக் கடையை மிகுந்த ஆவலுடன் அணுகினேன்.

ஆனால், அங்கிருந்தவை அனைத்தும் தெலுங்கு இதழ்கள்தான். ஓரமாகச் சில ஆங்கிலச் செய்தித்தாள்கள். மற்றபடி மருந்துக்கும் தமிழ் வாசனை லேது.

ஆந்திரத் தலைநகருக்குப் பக்கத்தில் நின்றுகொண்டு தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகைகளை எதிர்பார்ப்பது கொஞ்சம் ’டூ மச்’தான். நம் ஊரில் தெலுங்கு, கன்னட இதழ்கள் அத்தனை சுலபத்தில் கிடைக்குமா என்ன?

ஏன் கிடைக்காமல்? கல்லூரியில் என்னோடு தங்கியிருந்த ஒரு நண்பன் வாராவாரம் தன்னுடைய மனத்துக்கிசைந்த தெலுங்கு இதழ்களை உடனுக்குடன் வாங்கிப் படித்துவிடுவான். கோயம்பத்தூரில் அநேகமாக எல்லாக் கடைகளிலும் மலையாள தினசரிகள், சஞ்சிகைகள் கொத்துக்கொத்தாகக் கிடைக்கும்.

அப்படியானால், செகந்தராபாதிலும் கொஞ்சம் மெனக்கெட்டுத் தேடினால் தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகைகள் கிடைக்கவேண்டும், இல்லையா?

நான் பராக்குப் பார்த்தபடி யோசித்துக்கொண்டிருக்க, நண்பர்கள் என் தோளில் துண்டைப் போட்டு இழுத்துச் சென்றார்கள், ‘முதல்ல வீடு தேடணும். வாடா!’

அடுத்த சில தினங்கள், செய்தித்தாள்களின் வரி விளம்பரங்களை நோட்டமிடுவது, புரோக்கர்களுடன் அரைகுறை ஹிந்தியில் சம்பாஷிப்பது, வீட்டு உரிமையாளர்களிடம் பேரம் பேசுவது என்று பரபரப்பாக ஓடியது. கடைசியாக எங்கள் அலுவலகத்திலிருந்து சுமார் இரண்டரை கிலோ மீட்டர் தூரத்தில் ஒரு தக்கனூண்டு அறை வாடகைக்குக் கிடைத்தது.

செகந்திராபாதுடன் ஒப்பிடும்போது, ஹைதராபாத் ஒரு பிரம்மாண்டமான ராட்சஸனைப்போல் தெரிந்தது. எல்லோரும் தெலுங்கு, ஹிந்தி (உருது?) பேசினார்கள். இந்தியாமுழுவதிலும் இருந்து ‘fresh-out-of-college’ இளைஞர்கள் சங்கமித்திருந்த பயிற்சி மையத்தில் ஆங்கிலம்மட்டுமே பொதுமொழியாக இருந்தது, வீட்டுக்கு வெளியில் தமிழ்ப் பேச்சைக் கேட்பதே அபூர்வமாகிவிட்டது.

கோயம்பத்தூரில் இருந்தவரை, நான் அநேகமாக பத்து அல்லது பதினைந்து வார, மாதப் பத்திரிகைகளைத் தவறாமல் வாசித்துக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். இப்போதுகூட, அந்தக் காலகட்டத்தில் வந்த இதழ்களில் யாரெல்லாம் எழுதினார்கள், எந்தக் கதைக்கு யார் ஓவியம், எந்தத் தொடர் எத்தனை அத்தியாயம் வந்தது என்று என்னால் ஓரளவு சரியாகவே சொல்லிவிடமுடியும். அப்படி ஒரு பித்து.

ஆனால் இங்கே, குமுதம், விகடன்கூடக் கிடைக்கவில்லை. அல்லது, எங்கே கிடைக்கிறது என்று தெரியவில்லை. ஒரு பிராண சிநேகிதனைப் பிரிந்து வந்த உணர்வு.

கொஞ்சம்கொஞ்சமாக நான் இந்த (ஏ)மாற்றத்துக்குப் பழகிக்கொண்டேன். தமிழ்ப் புத்தகம்தானே? எங்கே போகுது? எப்பவாச்சும் ஊருக்குப் போனா மொத்தமாக வாங்கிப் படிச்சுக்கலாம்!

அது இன்னொரு பிரச்னை. ஹைதராபாதிலிருந்து எங்கள் ஊருக்குப் போக ரயிலில் 20+ மணி நேரம், போதாக்குறைக்கு, அதன்பிறகு பஸ் பயணம் வேறு. இப்படிப் போக, வர 3 அல்லது 4 நாள் காலியாகிவிடுவதால், மிக நீண்ட விடுமுறை கிடைத்தாலொழிய ஊருக்குப் போகமுடியாது.

சுருக்கமாகச் சொன்னால், உடன் தங்கியிருக்கும் நண்பர்கள் பேசக் கேட்கும் தமிழ்தவிர வேறு தாய்மொழி வாசமே இல்லை. எப்போதாவது அலுவலகத்தில் தமிழ் வார்த்தைகள் காதில் விழும். அவையும் உடனடியாகத் திருத்தப்பட்டுவிடும் – காரணம், ’கார்ப்பரேட் என்விரான்மேன்ட்ல ஜெயிக்கணும்ன்னா, முதல்ல உங்களுக்குள்ளே நல்லா இங்க்லீஷ் பேசக் கத்துக்குங்க, ரொம்ப அவசியம் நேர்ந்தாலொழிய தமிழ்ல பேசிக்காதீங்க’ என்று எங்கள் சீனியர் ஒருவர் எல்லோருக்கும் ‘அட்வைஸ்’ செய்திருந்ததுதான்.

அப்போது எனக்கு ஆங்கிலத்தில் மொத்தம் தெரிந்ததே 500 வார்த்தைகள்தான். (இப்போது கொஞ்சம் பரவாயில்லை, 550!) இதை வைத்துக்கொண்டு எப்படி ‘கார்ப்பரேட் என்விரான்மென்ட்’டில் பிழைப்பது? யாரிடமும் வாயைத் திறக்கவே பயமாக இருந்தது.

எரிச்சலில் நான் இன்னும் தீவிரமாகத் தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகைகளைத் தேட ஆரம்பித்தேன். குமுதம், விகடன், கல்கிகூட வேண்டாம். ஒரு ’ராணி’யோ, ’தேவி’யோ, ’ஞான பூமி’யோ, ’வேளாண்செய்தி’யோ கிடைத்தால்கூடப் போதும், நெருப்புக்கோழிபோல் அதில் முகத்தைப் புதைத்துக்கொண்டுவிடலாம்.

என்னுடைய அதிர்ஷ்டம், நான் எவ்வளவு தேடியபோதும் ஹைதராபாதில் தமிழ்ப் பத்திரிகைகள் தென்படவே இல்லை. எனது நண்பர்கள் யாரும் இந்த விஷயத்தில் எனக்கு உதவியாகத் ‘தேட’ அக்கறை காட்டவில்லை. பல வருடமாக இங்கேயே தங்கியிருக்கும் ‘சீனியர்’ தமிழர்களிடம் விசாரித்தால், ‘தமிழ் புக்ல்லாம் எதுக்குடா? வேணும்ன்னா தெலுங்குல ஆனா, ஆவன்னா எழுதிக் கத்துக்கோ’ என்று நக்கலடித்தார்கள்.

வேடிக்கையான விஷயம், என்னுடைய ஆந்திர நண்பர்களுக்கு எப்படியோ என் தவிப்பு புரிந்தது. எனக்கு உதவ விரும்பினார்கள். ஆனால் அவர்களுக்கும் தமிழ்ப் புத்தகங்களைத் தேடிப் பிடிக்கும் அளவு செல்வாக்கு இல்லை. கூகுள் தேடல், இணையத்தில் உதவி கேட்கும் Forumகளெல்லாம் அப்போது அறிமுகமாகியிருக்கவில்லை.

கடைசியாக, நான் ஒட்டுமொத்த நம்பிக்கையையும் இழந்திருந்தபோது ஒரு செவிவழிச் செய்தி கிடைத்தது, ‘செகந்தராபாத் ரயில்வே ஸ்டேஷன் பக்கத்தில தமிழ்ப் புத்தகமெல்லாம் உடனுக்குடன் கிடைக்கும்.’

இது உண்மையா, அல்லது என்னுடைய ‘நண்பர்’கள் என்னை அலையவைத்துக் கேலி செய்யத் திட்டம் தீட்டுகிறார்களா என்பதுகூட எனக்குத் தெரியவில்லை. வண்டியைத் தூக்கிக்கொண்டு புறப்பட்டுவிட்டேன்.

ஹைதரபாதுக்கும் செகந்தரபாதுக்கும் இடையே நடு வகிடு எடுத்த இரட்டைப் பின்னல்மாதிரி ஒரு நீண்ட ரோடு உண்டு. அதன் மையத்தில் விமான நிலையம் இருந்ததாக நினைவு (இப்போது அதை வேறு எங்கோ மாற்றிவிட்டதாகச் சொல்கிறார்கள்).

அந்தச் சாலையில் அப்போதுதான் நான் முதன்முறையாகச் செல்கிறேன். செகந்தராபாத் ‘இப்ப வருமோ’, ‘எப்ப வருமோ’ என்று தவித்தபடி வண்டியை விரட்டினால் சுமார் ஒரு மணி நேரம் கழித்து பெயர்ப் பலகைகளில் ஊர் மாறியது. ரயில் நிலையம் எங்கே என்று விசாரித்துக்கொண்டு வலதுபக்கம் திரும்பினேன்.

அங்கே பிளாட்ஃபார ஓரமாக ஒரு சின்னக் கடை. சுற்றிலும் புத்தகங்களை விரித்துவைத்து ஒருவர் நடுவில் சம்மணம் போட்டு உட்கார்ந்திருந்தார்.

ஏதோ சிந்தனையில் அங்கேயே வண்டியைச் சாய்த்து நிறுத்திவிட்டு மேலே ஏறினேன். தமிழ்ப் புத்தகங்கள் தென்படுகிறதா என்று நப்பாசையுடன் தேடினேன்.

அந்தக் கணத்தை எழுத்தில் சொல்வது கஷ்டம். உணர்ச்சிவயப்படாமல், மிகைப்படுத்தாமல் இயல்பாகச் சொல்வது இன்னும் கஷ்டம். கொஞ்சம் செய்தித்தாள் நடையில் underplay செய்தால்தான் உண்டு.

அந்தக் கடையில் தமிழ்ப் புத்தகங்கள் இருந்தன. குமுதம், கல்கி, விகடன், குங்குமம் என்று ஆரம்பித்து ஜூனியர் விகடன், வண்ணத்திரை, பாக்கெட் நாவல், க்ரைம் நாவல், மாலைமதிவரை சகலமும் கிடைத்தன. அத்தனையும் லேட்டஸ்ட் இதழ்கள். நான் எதையும் வாங்கத் தோன்றாமல் அந்த இதழ்களின் அட்டைப்படங்களைமட்டும் பரவசத்தோடு பார்த்துக்கொண்டிருந்தேன், தமிழ் எழுத்துகளின் வளைவு, நெளிவுகள், புள்ளிகள் ஒவ்வொன்றும் அப்போது கூடுதல் அழகோடு தெரிந்தன.

அன்றைக்கு நான் இருநூறு அல்லது இருநூற்றைம்பது ரூபாய்க்குப் புத்தகங்கள் வாங்கியிருப்பேன் என்று நினைக்கிறேன். அந்தக் கடைக்காரர் ஒரே transactionல் அத்தனை ரூபாயை அதுவரை பார்த்திருக்கமாட்டார். எனக்குத் தெலுங்கில் அவர் நன்றிகூடச் சொன்னதாக நினைவு.

நான் எல்லாப் புத்தகங்களையும் பைக் கவருக்குள் திணித்துக்கொண்டு இரட்டைப் பின்னலின் இன்னொரு வழியே ஹைதராபாத் திரும்பினேன். அடுத்த இரண்டு நாள்கள் ஒரு வரி பாக்கி வைக்காமல் படித்துத் தீர்த்தேன்.

அதன்பிறகு, வாரந்தோறும் செகந்தராபாத் பயணம், அதே கடை, புத்தகங்கள், அப்புறம் யு டர்ன் எடுத்து மீண்டும் ஹைதராபாத். அரை நிமிட வேலைக்காக, கிட்டத்தட்ட இரண்டு மணி நேரப் பயணம்.

இப்போது, நண்பர்கள் என்னை விநோதமாகப் பார்த்தார்கள். என்வசமிருந்த தமிழ் இதழ்களை லேசாகப் புரட்டிப்பார்த்துவிட்டு, இதற்காக நான் செலவிடுகிற பெட்ரோல் மொத்தமும் விரயம் என்று கருத்துத் தெரிவித்தார்கள்.

போகட்டும். ஒவ்வொருவருக்கு ஒவ்வொரு போதை, எனக்கு இது!

என். சொக்கன் ...

Image Source : Ravages

Friday, February 19, 2010

HOO’s got a story?

Via HOO's Tales

Get creative and win attractive prizes. All you have do is use HOO – The Hippocampus mascot as creatively as you can in a story and you could be one of 3 lucky winners!

Win couple passes for our double bill performances as part of HOO’s Tales on the 22nd and 23rd of Feb. Send your stories to


  • Should be original
  • Should not exceed 200 words
  • No use of abusive/offensive/discriminating language
  • The winning entry will be posted on Facebook and on

Last date for entries Feb 21st 2010! So hurry!

Hoo's Tales begins tomorrow. Pratham Books is conducting a storytelling and paper-craft activity too. The schedule of events for Saturdaycan be found here. The schedule of the main events being held from 20th-27th February can be found here.

Yak Away with Bhargavi Satyan - Storytelling and Paper Craft Activity

(Please give on the above image for a larger view)

Story of a Children's Library in Bangalore

Chintan Girish Modi writes about a library he visited on his trip to Bangalore.

Via Chintan's Chatter
Imagine having a little pond in your school library, where you can look at colourful fish swim by as you read your favourite book. A spiral staircase leading up to a tower from where you can see almost the entire school. Quiet corners that let you sit alone and undisturbed, lost to the world as you sit immersed in your own world of stories…

Does it sound like an unbelievable fantasy? You might be pleasantly surprised to know that such a library truly exists, in a school called Centre for Learning, on the outskirts of Bangalore. I visited them recently, and had the opportunity to meet Usha Aunty, an inspiring lady who loves books and children, and introducing children to the wonderful world of books. She has introduced simple and beautiful ways to involve children in their own learning space. Firstly, there is no librarian acting like a monitor, giving you a million instructions. You can simply pick up any book you like, and make a note in the computerised system placed in the library, without waiting for an adult to do it for you. This openness extends to many of the library activities.

Children are encouraged to ‘adopt’ books and care for them. The library has a small section called the Book Hospital where torn and damaged books are kept. These are stuck together and bound properly. If you have adopted a particular book, you make a new cover for it, and write a short description at the back of the book. You also get to interview a few students and teachers who have read the book, so that you can compile their comments to attract new readers. Apart from this, you can make book marks, write book ads, paint posters and display lists of favourite books — whatever that makes reading exciting and fun for you.

If you are wondering ‘All of this sounds great, but this might never work in my school library’, spend some time thinking of ideas that your teachers or librarian might be open to. When they see that you are genuinely interested, they will put aside their doubts, and join in your enthusiasm.
Read the entire article here and you can see more pictures here.

Image Source : cfllibrary

Akshara Foundation is looking for a Fund Raising Manager

Akshara Foundation is looking for a Fund Raising Manager to manage fund raising activities for the Foundation.

The job involves :

1. Developing innovative fund-raising strategies

2. Building and maintaining long-term relationships with donors

3. Organizing fundraising events

4. Increasing funds through researching and targeting charitable trusts and foundations that are aligned to our cause.

5. Raising awareness of the charity at local, national and international levels.

6. Preparing proposals for donors.

7. Preparing donor reports and sending them out to the donors as frequently as expected by the donors.

8. Organizing field visits for all our donors

9. Creating and managing volunteer programmes


Belief in the cause!

Apart from a passion for social change, you do not need a specific qualification. However, a degree in business-related subjects or sales and marketing would be useful.

Please email your detailed resume to:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Penguin's Metro Reads

Via The Hindu

Train journeys and novels have a long-standing camaraderie. And we all, at some point of time, have gladly chipped in to keep this association sailing. Now, with shifting times, trains have journeyed from that experience of an occasional ride with friends and family to an average Delhiite's daily life. Boarding a train to get to one's workplace is no more the distinctiveness of a Mumbaikar or a Kolkattan alone. Over a million Delhiites reportedly use the Delhi Metro every day. So why keep the ‘novel' idea away, reflected Penguin India.

Vaishali Mathur, senior commissioning editor of the ever expanding publishing house, throws light on the ‘whys' and the ‘hows' behind the introduction of the concept to the city's commuters. “We have been studying the market and felt that there was a gap as far as literature for the people on the move with busy lifestyles and shortage of time, was concerned. These are people who like to read but don't have the patience to carry around heavy tomes.”

And so Metro Reads come to life. Penguin has introduced the series with a trio — “Love Over Coffee” by Delhiite Amrit N. Shetty, “Where Girls Dare” by Roorkee-resident Bhavna Chauhan, and “Dreams in Prussian Blue” by Pune-based Paritosh Uttam. Sticking to the concept of racy quickies, none of the novels spans beyond 250 pages, and the stories are severely metro-ish.

Read the entire article here and visit the Metro Reads website.

Image Source

Bookworm Illustration

Chanced upon this incredibly cute illustration on Tanvi Choudhury's blog. Tanvi says "This is one of my water color experiments. I did this one for my nephew, needless to say, he's a book worm!"

Pssst: Click on the image to view the details and to find out what her nephew is reading :).

Visit Tanvi Choudhury's blog to view her work.

English vs the Mother Tongue

Via The Times of India

The National Council of Education Research and Training lists a few guidelines on desired outcomes for children learning English as a second language in Classes I and II. These include being able to talk about themselves, follow simple instructions, requests and questions, read simple and short sentences with the help of pictures and understand them, and write simple words, phrases and short sentences

However, a recent report by the NGO Pratham shows that less that 50 per cent of children in Class I could even identify capital letters in English. The gap between desired outcomes and real outcomes is obviously huge.

Parents, especially from rural and semi-urban families, see English as a gateway to better opportunities for their children. They send their children to English-medium schools. In most of these schools, children learn Maths, Sciences and other subjects in English, without knowing English.

This situation has led to an increasing number of educators advocating that schooling should be in the mother tongue only.

There is a failure to recognise that the major elements of language are best learnt intuitively, making it an "associative" task (where you perform a task without having to single-mindedly focus on it).

When approaching the learning of language, we must make a very clear distinction between the intuitive elements of language (understanding and speaking) and the logical elements (reading and writing). Intuitive elements and logical elements of language are learnt entirely differently. This is the reason why you will find individuals who understand and speak a language but cannot read and write and vice versa.

Having said this, we are still left with the challenge of facilitating intuitive learning in a classroom. How do we bring these into the classroom?

Language learning must be considered complete only when understanding, speaking, reading and writing proficiency has been attained. The progression of learning should also ideally proceed in the same order. An indigenously developed language learning programme has demonstrated outstanding results in teaching English to first generation English learners in rural, semi-urban and tribal areas. The process is described as intuitive, immersive, non-instructional and non-linear. It mirrors the learning process of the mother tongue.

A learner is immersed into a structured language environment through a variety of interesting activities that are designed to stimulate intuitive learning. There is no overt teaching. The learner is led through different kinds of language experiences. Language is learnt using the body, through music and through stories. The programme does not teach meanings of words but allows the learner to figure it out.

With the right pedagogy, there is hope that every child can learn English and other languages enjoyably and without conscious effort irrespective of their background and without compromising the mother tongue. For this, we must look at our successfully multilingual society and draw lessons from it.
Read the entire article here.

337-year-old book to be reprinted

Via The Hindu
Collectors of rare books will soon be able to lay their hands on a facsimile copy of 17th century book India and Persia by British cartographer John Ogilvie. It is being reprinted by the authorities of the Asiatic Society here.

Published in 1673, the book, which is a part of the Library of the Asiatic Society, is the only known copy in India, said Nirbed Ray, publication secretary of the Society.

While the condition of the original had deteriorated owing to effects of age, the reprint would probably be available in March, nearly 337 years after it was first printed.

The book has unique artwork and maps from India and Persia. It provided the merchants of the East India Company valuable information on India and the Gangetic plains, Mr. Ray said.

While the decision to reprint the book was part of the Society’s constant endeavour of historic revival, it was decided to reprint it as a facsimile to retain the original look and feel of the book, he said.
Read the entire article here.

Myself Dolly, Job - Family Pet!

Despite the title though, I have dreams that are very, very different!
Greetings everyone! It’s wonderful to get this opportunity to interact with you all and I wish you could see how fast my tail is wagging as I bark this out to Shweta. You see, I would type this out if I could, but someone’s yet to develop a keyboard that is user-friendly to users with paws or even a bark to text software. Sure there are dogs who try to type. Like my friend Betsy, you can see in this picture here. But she ends up on these ‘not-so-nice’ sites by mistake! But then knowing Betsy, that’s where she wanted to end up in the first place.
Anyway, coming back to me, I’m stuck dictating to Shweta till I get the technology issue ironed out. We have the communication thing sorted out you see, ‘cos I’ve been training her for the ten years I’ve known her. That’s how old I am, ten. Which in my terms is pretty old. Long enough to have had quite a number of experiences and wise enough to know that I need to be putting them down for future dogs that aspire to be family pets and writers.
You see the sense in that right? So does my family. My point is why don’t the publishers? Let me tell you what I mean.
My autobiography is pretty juicy, even though I say it myself. It’s got evil vets and jealous Alsatians, snooty Dobermans , mean kids and locations from across the world. Its got action, drama, romance, comedy and all those things my family harps about when they watch movies together. It’s got the makings of a best seller is what Betsy says. Well, she’s my best friend so I doubt she’d bark otherwise, but still, its good, nose smacking good.
Anyway, after months of slaving away on the first draft and then edit, revise and then revise some more, I send it out to the publishers that accept manuscripts by email. Why only email? First of all, I’m all for the environment. Where would my community relieve themselves if all the trees were gone? And second, paper brings back bad memories of being house-trained a long time ago! UGH! But I digress.
So coming back to the point, I mail it off to publishers who all say that they get back within eight weeks to six months. I’m ok with that. I can wait. Well, sure I expected an acknowledgement mail or two, because I’m thinking how many people get manuscripts from a dog right? But I soon realized that, that was wishful thinking.
So six months and no responses later, I dutifully send out “Hallo, did you get my manuscript letters?” Yes, I phrased them better! But still, no response!
At this point I start getting upset. I mean, I’m a dog, we’re used to reactions and responses! You show me affection, I do one of the following – Wag my tail, give you a lick, prance all over the room madly. If you are mean to me, I might snarl, growl, bark and in extreme cases bite. You try to leave me at home as you waltz off for movies and parties, I make puppy dog eyes and sulk, making you feel miserable. When you come back, even if you had just gone out to take the paper, we pounce on you like we haven’t seen you in years.
So you get what I mean? We’re all about the response! Indifference really gets me down. I’m sure it’s the same way for all those thousands of aspiring writers out there, struggling to get their book published, irrespective of their species. I feel for you and my tail droops as I think about you.
And that is why I wrote in asking to be a guest writer here. As during these months I’ve spent, eyes glued to my inbox not even caring for walks on some days or responding to the community howl that happens every Wednesday between 1 and 2 am, I’ve realized that I’m not alone. There is a huge community of us who believe in the manuscripts we have written and the stories we have to tell. A whole lot of us who are driving our loved ones to run behind their tails in frustration, as we walk around looking like that silly hound on TV with a long face that practically touches the ground, as we wait for that elusive letter of interest from our soon- to-be publishers.
And I thought what better a forum to connect with you all than on a blog that is made for book lovers. There is no other place where I can whine and be understood. Well, except at the Colony dogs welfare association meeting, but you get my drift.
So with expectations of responses, be it a snarl or a whistle, I end here, wishing that you don’t judge me by what I am, but by what I aspire to be.
With a wag for each one of you, till next week,
Yours truly,
Image source:
Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a journalist turned NGO activist turned Writer/Blogger/Author who finds bliss in traveling to places known and unknown! She blogs about life, travels and food here , here and here
And can be followed on twitter here

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guide to Online Book Shopping in India

Veena Venugopal writes about her online book shopping experiences.

When I moved to Delhi a year and a half ago, Strand Bookstore did not move with me. The consequence of that and the fact that my parking skills are dodgy under the best of conditions is that my book shopping is almost entirely online now.

This then is my guide to buying books online. I have, so far, tried to buy books from three websites – (what was formerly known as Fabmall), and To make it all scientific and marginally less floozy, I’ve classified the process into 4 categories and assigned a grade from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) to each of these.

1. Availability
2. Ease of ordering/cancelling
3. Price
4. Customer service
Read on to find out which website passed the test with flying colours. Where do you buy your books from?

Image Source : Guillermo Esteves

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Imagine, No Television

This is a guest post by Rati Ramadas

One of my favourite memories from childhood, is of my school teacher reading fairy tales aloud in class, and asking us to draw our favourite character. The moment we finished we would hang them up on the class wall and see who had drawn their favourite character best. No matter how outrageous, our imagination would hang on that wall for a whole week till the next story session. One glance and you could see that the drawings were all different. Each princess had a different face, a different gown. If my Rapunzel had long, yellow hair with blue ribbons, someone else's Rapunzel was fair with rosy cheeks and had long blue hair. But try as you might to change it, that image stuck. That was our Rapunzel.

What about Panchatantra. Every story with it's moral and it's talking animals. Visits to the zoo were never the same for me. I always thought the monkeys sniggered when I turned my back! And then there were the Secret Seven and Famous Five. Imagine crawling into a den with a door, whispering the password and entering to sit on overturned crates, discussing the next mystery while munching on Oatmeal biscuits and Cream Scones. Just the sound of cream scones conjured up a long pastry filled to the brim with sweet jam and cream, crumbs falling as their dog licked it up. I remember, trying unsuccessfully, to buy cream scones at pastry shops and growing up thinking it was an exotic English tea time snack completely out of my reach.

Or what about Malory Towers and the Lacrosse team? Try imagining the whole game with those strange bats and balls, with no help from pictures. Want a more modern example? Try Quidditch from Harry Potter. Imagine what Quidditch would be like if you had no help from the movies. Now isn't that good enough to keep you busy your whole childhood? Well, apparently not.

For kids of today, things have been made a lot simpler. Fairy tales have been made into TV shows, shown one episode at a time. Now, kids can only think of Cinderella in a blue gown with a blond bun. Beauty is the one dancing in a canary yellow ball gown with Beast in a blue tuxedo. Every dwarf has its own colour and Walt Disney has made sure all princesses look almost the same. Long, flowing hair and big, dark eyes.

Sure, cartoon channels like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and the others have made sure stories reach a larger audience. Enid Blyton and Brothers Grimm are not limited to books at the library but for anyone with a TV and some time to watch. Parents do not have to take out time to read, just switch on the TV and there is a show to watch. Is your favourite show not on? Well, rent a DVD! Now children can not only read about their favourite characters they can take it with them to school as their book bag, eat out of their fairy tale plate and spoon set and after dinner, complete a Sleeping Beauty and Seven Dwarves puzzle.

Ask a child now to imagine a character and draw it. Chances are it will resemble something from a recently watched cartoon. Why can't Cinderella wear a gown of fire-flies and glow as she runs down the stairs or Beauty dance in a golden gown that she stitched from nettles and daisies? It is alright for Spongebob Squarepants and Tom and Jerry to be on TV, but let books be books. Let us go back to those days.

Image Source: kjirstinb