Folklore, fun and more...

Stephen Alter

Story about a cloud rollercoaster

Stephen Alter, author of 18 books of fiction and non-fiction, spoke to children about his book ‘The Cloudfarers: How to Run Away from School’.

The topic got all children excited, but the book isn’t as much about running away from school as about a boy who did.

“Those footprints tell us of our origins, recalling the first Cloudfarers, a lost tribe of beings from another planet, who came to earth, exiled from the sky,” he began.

The book is about a boy sent to a boarding school. It traces his adventures as he begins a stormy adventure on the clouds and through dangerous cliffs and
mountains to reach a safe haven.

Alter’s other books for young readers include The Phantom Isles, Ghost Letters, and The Secret Sanctuary.

Hyper-social media and its perils


Naresh Fernandes (left) and Chidanand Rajghatta

Journalist Chidanand Rajghatta and Naresh Fernandes, editor of Scroll.com discussed the question, 'Is India illiberal?' Incidentally, the title of a recent book by Rajghatta is ‘Illiberal India.’ He wrote it in the wake of the murder of his former wife Gauri Lankesh, who was editing a Kannada weekly critical of the BJP dispensation.

“Impatience, resentment and anger among present-day Indians have heightened,” said Rajghatta. He believes the country is not just illiberal but is sliding to ‘something worse.’

Sharing his memories of growing up, he said Bengaluru had been more calm and gentle. Rajghatta attributed the ‘heightened intolerance’ to what he called ‘hyper social media.’

“It is resulting in the polarisation of our society,” he said. “Centrist positions are diminishing as a result of the gradual widening of the political ideology pendulum.”

What’s the mark of a good translator?

‘Translating Classics’ was a session that put the spotlight on translation of Telugu works into English.

Velcheru Narayana Rao said Indians used to read their classics in the original language, but “English has made us monolingual now.”

A vegetable vendor is considered illiterate even when she speaks four or five Indian languages, while those who speak only English consider themselves literate, he said. A translation, he said, helps bring out hidden meanings in the original. In his words: “A good translator translates the poem and brings out a poem hidden in that very poem, so that the native speakers of that language are exposed to another meaning which they might have missed out while reading it in their native language.”

A good translator explains the meaning of a native book to native readers, he concluded.
Hyper-social media and its perils

Yellamma stories for city audiences

Urban FOLK Project introduced the audience to an ancient Kannada folktale from the northern part of Karnataka. It is about the transition of princess Renuka to goddess Yellamma.

This year-old group draws inspiration folk singers from different parts of Karnataka.

Shilpa Mudbi Kothakota, hailing from north Karnataka, travelled in rural Karnataka for seven years. Her tours triggered her interest in reviving Kannada folk songs.

Accompanied by Adithya Kothakota and Sumitra Sunder, the group aims to connect urban audiences with the folk arts.

“We started travelling around the end of 2016. We went across Karnataka and met many folk artistes, who connected us to many others in their group. They taught us folklore. That is how ‘The Urban Project’ started,” says Shilpa.

The group has already presented 35 concerts, and hopes to present Renuka Bai and Manjamma, who inspired and taught them the songs, to city audiences. “They are the last line of practitioners, we can’t let them go,” she says.

The group also plans to conduct workshops in colleges. An upcoming event is on November 18 at the Bangalore storytelling festival, Rangasthala, MG Road.

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