The Day It Rained Letters:Nury Vittachi

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MARCH 6,2010

March 6, 2010, is a date I will remember for a long time. No it’s not my birthday but yes felt like rebirth for me. Today I relived my childhood with the tiny tots from class I and II. This happened all thanks to the Habitat Centre Book Forum. By now you are all aware about the HCBF and its activities, so leaving the preliminary introduction I would come to main event.

Well friends, as always HCBF organized another fun filled and entertaining session. And this time I was accompanied by Ms.Alka from the junior school. It was memorable for both of us and an event that will be with us till we live. Now I won’t bore you further with the whole emotional trip of how we felt. Let’s get to the main program now without further delay.

When we reached Habitat Centre, the gates of Eatopia were closed; yes the restaurant is where we have our discussions. The ambience is jut fabulous. The moment you enter you are surrounded by colours and make one feel all happy and the vibrant colours gets you all pepped up. See again I got sidetracked. Well, the atmosphere is such that it gets you engrossed in no time. And it goes for both kids and adults.

So we took another route to come to Eatopia and finally entered the place. The moment children entered the area they were charmed by the place. They loved every bit of it. They were dazzled by the interiors that were not only colorful but also had banners of cartoons and superheroes like Batman, Superman, Phantom, etc. And with them I too got the chance to appreciate the whole place. I have gone several times for the discussion, but the kids opened not only opened the windows of my heart but my mind as well. With them I observed everything around me and was able to relish in every detail.

Ok now, for the discussion the book chosen was Nury Vittachi’s “The day it rained Letters”. The story is about a world where there is no written language; a little girl encounters some letters of the alphabet. The find leads her and her best friend on an adventure. They eventually discover books- mental meals which you “eat with your eyes”. And storytelling- food for thought which you “eat with your ears”. But best of all she discovers that reading unlocks a wonderful dream-machine hidden in everyone’s head called Imagination. Interesting Na!!..

The program began with a game of alphabets wherein each child had to speak a word he/she would buy from the market starting with alphabets they came upon. Te came is called ‘I went to the market and bought a … each child then followed the alphabets and spoke. E.g.: I went to the market and bought an Apple, the second child would then say a word with B then C, D, so on till Z. But the child following on had to say all the items bought earlier, each time becoming more difficult to remember. Now let me see if I remember. “I went to the market and bought an Apple, a Brinjal, a Cat, a Doll, an Elephant, a Flag, Grapes, a Hand, Iron, a Jeep, a Kite, a Lion toy, a Mango, a Nose, an Orange, a Peacock, a Rod, a Snake, a Tiger, an Umbrella, a Violin, a Whistle, X…, a Yacht, a Zebra. It was really funny to follow the ABCD in this manner, but at the same time was engaging.

Next was the story telling session conducted by Ms.Vatsala Kaul Banerjee (Editorial Director-children’s and reference books), Hachette India, along with Neel Debdutt Paul (Editorial Assistant), Hachette India. Neel had the children magnetized by his storytelling skills. They sat bewitched by the story and more so by the storyteller, who had them all dazzled and wonderstruck. Neel had the kids arrested by the story. The boisterous crowd now sat silent and hypnotized, transported to the land where there were no stories and storybooks.

After the story session all the kids were asked to imagine a new alphabet and later tell how it would sound. Children came up with many new alphabets and sounds. It not only exercised the brain but also released imagination from the shackles of monotony of rules. Having enjoyed the activity a lot, all the kids were geared up for some more. Hence Ms.Vatsala had them draw a picture where it was raining, but not the usual rain. Rather a different rain just like in the book where it rained letters. The kids drew till their hearts full. They drew rain of flowers, chocolates, candies, ice creams, books, toffees and our very own Divyansh drew rain of diamonds and 1000 rupees notes. It was really a sight to see them all excited about their drawings.

Next the kids all participated in a round of ‘Dumb Charades’. Neel enacted some words which the children had to guess and must say the kids are intelligent. They easily guessed all the words. Some of the words were- princess, bed-time, story-time, library, moon, etc.

Finally it was time to come back to school. The kids were dragging themselves out of Eatopia same as Alka Ma’am and me. It was heartbreaking to move away from the magical world spun by stories. The kids kept saying “we don’t want to go back to school”, “we want to come here every Saturday and hear stories”. Hmmmm I too miss the magic and the wonders of stories. Looking forward to next month where I shall enter the world of history with Rani Lakshmibai. Any takers here???

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