Saturday, June 18, 2016

A PBChamp Jumps Into the World of Storytelling

We are always delighted when we hear stories of how a project we started went on to start another journey. We get to hear many such stories - especially with the Pratham Books Champions project. Here's the story of Vani Balaraman and her journey as a storyteller.

What influenced you to become a storyteller?

In 2012, I was at work and was looking for activities for my son who was 2.5 years then. Back then, I wasn’t aware of story workshops, kids’ events and libraries. I was just another working mom, with a small kid in the daycare, that fell sick often and me battling the corporate. It was September and when I look back now, I have no idea how I landed on the Pratham Books blog and learnt that a champion program was happening 2 days later on World Literacy day.

With just 2 days in hand for preparation, and with neither a hard copy of the storybook nor a banner in hand, I went ahead to do my first ever story event with just a color print out of the story – Susheela’s Kolam! The story is hence very dear to me and so is Pratham books and all their events! That was when Storytelling wasn’t as popular as it is today. I hadn’t visited a single event before. What I performed that day for kids from our apartments, was my first brush with storytelling and I think I fared well. This year in 2016 , I would complete my 5th year as a Pratham books champion.

Now when I look back, I think I always had a passion for stories. Even as a child, I wrote pretty good essays in school. While a Bachelors degree in Engineering and surviving the corporate might have blurred my true calling, I am glad I went back to doing what I did best as a child. Today I take story writing and spinning a tale as the best gift given to me, so as to strike a work life balance, something which is a MUST for every corporate individual!

What is the story behind Cuddles and Reads?

On the very same evening in 2012, I attended a Pratham books champion’s story event, organized at Atta Galatta, Bengaluru, by a bunch of theater enthusiasts. I was curious to know how different storytellers perform the same story. Atta Galatta was then operating out of their bungalow in Koramangala, in a lane laden with the most beautiful bungalows and old oak trees. Again my brush with Atta Galatta happened accidentally and since then there has been no looking back. I have attended various events, book launches, and even went on to perform at their book store for the Pratham Champion event.

Cuddles and Reads was started primarily to chronicle the many events I attended in Bengaluru. Now it has turned into a space where I share my passion for writing, narrating stories and providing reviews on books I enjoy reading or narrating to my son. I also share details of events happening across cities. It is a mixed bag where I share my passion for books, stories, story writing, story narration, etc.

People who perform put in a lot of effort to bring the best to the audience. Today social media is the nicest platform to say a THANK YOU to them and when I feel truly touched by a performance, I do a huge shout out on my page to THANK them.

Read the entire article. You can follow Vani's page 'Cuddles and Reads' on Facebook.

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