Sister act

CREATIVE CORNER

Sister act

Who wants to grow up?! Janhavi (left) and Jayashree find immense joy in working with children.  DH pic/Kishor Kumar Bolar

When grandmothers narrate fascinating bed-time stories to their grandchildren, they sow the seeds of imagination and inspiration in young minds. Likewise, when mothers make time to indulge in creative pursuits, they inspire their kids to develop a hobby. Jayashree Raju and Janhavi Lakshmi-narayanan are proof of this.

Jayashree performs puppet shows under the name ‘Bombe Mane’ and teaches art and craft to kids, while Janhavi, her younger sister, runs a children’s library named ‘Mymetra’.
The sisters say they picked up many interests during their childhood, which was full of fun and games.

Their mother was a skilled seamstress, who ran a boutique. “We learnt skills like embroidery from her. We were told a lot of stories by mother and grandmother and I often visualised myself narrating these stories to my friends. The urge to express myself was definitely there from the beginning,” Jayashree recalls. She says she spent a great deal of time with her mother, learning the nuances of stitching and needlework from her.
After completing her graduation, Jayashree got married and got busy setting up home. But it did not take long for her to start teaching art and craft at various schools in Bangalore.

“There was a great urge to take up something more creative.  I realised I had little to keep myself occupied at home once my own children grew up. I was stressed out with nothing to do! So, I decided to start puppet-making classes,” she says.

She tested the waters with a show for her own kids and was inspired to set up puppet shows at birthday parties of friends’ kids. “I was apprehensive in the beginning, but my family and friends encouraged me to think big,” she says.

Over the last few years, she has conducted over 600 shows and has a collection of 100 handmade puppets.

“I use eco-friendly material and I do everything by hand,” she says. The storyboarding too is done by her. She makes up stories, narrates them and has the kids enthralled. A versatile puppeteer, she sounds like a playful child one moment and a grumpy old man in the next!

She also conducts craft classes at her sister’s library — an interest which came quite naturally to her.

While Jayashree thrives in her world of puppets, her younger sister, Janhavi, strikes a balance between various ventures like running a children’s library, conducting creative writing classes for school children, working as a freelance content writer and taking classes in Spoken English for housewives.

“I’ve always loved to work with children,” says Janhavi. She started a play home and named it ‘Mymetra’ in the US, after her first child.

Janhavi, who is a highly qualified software engineer, says her  sojourn in the US gave her plenty of opportunities to pursue her creative interests. “I used to spend hours reading in public libraries there. The libraries there are very good and I was inspired to start one on similar lines when I returned to Bangalore,” she says.

When she packed her bags to return to India, she loaded  3,000 books, exclusively for young readers.

She says she was rather surprised to find that parents are willing to fork out thousands of rupees for toys but think twice to spend on books. “My focus is to provide lots of interesting books to kids through a basic library. Mymetra is a ‘no-frills’ space,” she adds.
The sisters, brimming with ideas on how to utilise their time effectively while raising  kids and running their homes, wish to encourage young women  to take up activities that will keep them busy and happy. In mock seriousness, Jayshree adds that their creative pursuits have helped them maintain their sanity as well!

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