Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It`s all a Story!

I`ve always wondered why I remember certain things more in a certain way, while other things which are taught to me in detail are easily forgotten. I`ve always wondered why I remember certain places, know their cultures better, than certain other places, where i`ve even lived, but still am in the dark about them.

And one fine day, I struck upon the answer, all those things, which I remembered well, all those places, about which I knew so well, all of them had a story associated with them. A story about the land, people, culture, nature and the goodness. A Story is a wonderful art form, which involves the passion of it`s author and casts a permanent impression upon our minds.

I have recently been reading “Our Favourite Indian Stories”. A collection of all the stories famous in all the different states in India, by different celebrated authors, and it is so great a work, to collect all of them, have them translated and published. Kudos to Khushwant Singh and Neelam Kumar, it`s authors.

In my childhood, after taking bath, my father used to tell me to wipe my back first. I used to ask him..”Why? “ He used to then tell me a story about how two types of ‘bhagawatis’ (Godesses ) would be waiting for me to jump on my body after my bath. One, an evil one, and the other the good one. The evil one was supposedly faster and so it was assumed it was safer to keep it on our backs. Later on, I found out that the scientific reason behind this practise was that the skin on our backs are thinner and so we have more chance of getting cold, if we don`t wipe our backs. To this day, I wipe my back first. Every time I remember it, it is not because of the scientific reason, but because there`s a story there and I want to keep myself safe from the evil bhagawati.

There are lots of things which we learn, about the world, about different persons. If today I know a lot about America, it`s because of the stories, i`ve read like ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ or ‘Huck Finn’. If I know something about England, it`s thanks to the stories of Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creation, Agatha Christie and the like.

In fact, why do we even remember certain people more than others. There were a number of scientists in this world, but we still remember Newton for the story of the apple, Edison for the incidents from his life.
The book about the Holy Blood and Holy Grail was published long before 'The Da Vinci Code', but it wasn`t as famous till then. It became famous only because Dan Brown so cleverly crafted a story into it. Today we are so interested in Mary Magdalene and her family lineage, in unravelling the hidden mysteries in Leonardo`s paintings, all because we know of a story called 'The Da Vinci Code'.

Students in chennai schools know about the Hindi heartland through the stories of Munshi Premchand, Mahashweta Devi or Jawahar Lal Nehru. The Malabar coastline is most aptly described in the stories of Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer or Kamala Suraiyya. Short stories of Indira Parthasarathy, Ashokamitran or even bigger works like ‘Silappadikaram’ are the greatest possible source of knowledge about Tamil Nadu, it`s land and culture.

After all India, itself is the land of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha to lend philosophical insight to millions, Stories of Mughal rulers and their conquests and stories of British colonisation. India becomes a land of great diversity, due to the multitude of stories about it. It is known more globally due to the likes of Ruskin Bond or Rudyard Kipling, not forgetting our own Indian Authors, the great writers like Tagore, who brought India into the limelight with the sheer magic in his stories.

I feel like writing a story, but I`m not yet good at it. But to all the other bloggers who write stories, Great work!, you could be drafting a knowledge base for the generations to come.

On a rather lighter note, today if Ice cream vendors give mystic names like 'Arabian Delight' to their delicious sundaes, it`s because we have all at one time or the other read and marvelled at the aura and splendour of the land of camels, sheiks, jewels and genies, the land of arabia as described magnificently in the '1001 Arabian Nights'.


Maya Cassis said...

As always a truly enjoyable post.
And yes,it's so true...your theory about how we remember things that have a story behind them.
Infact I think i remember all the stories told to me from childhood and i have many stored to narrate to all the lil kids that i come across.I love the way they sit and drool with the eyes and mouths wide open if they understand what we are saying he he
and wow...amazing the story about wiping your back after the shower.
no one told me that one
I do believe you have it in you to craft a story
Good luck:)

Srijith Unni said...

Hi Maya,

Thanks for encouraging me to write. I`ll surely put in a grand effort next time.


Ram said...

I second Maya's belief re: your writing. Go Srijith! [and when you become rich and famous, and are collecting those royalty checks, you can thank us in more tangible ways, right Maya?!]

But your point about stories is right on the mark. A few years back I took a wonderful class on Theories of Learning. One aspect we discussed was how stories help learners learn because they ground knowledge in a context that people can relate too. And certain scientists believe that the human brain functions in a way that enables us to encode knowledge when it is added on to something we already know or are aware of [like stories, characters, situations etc.]

Of course, it is all the more powerful for children, but even among adults, this is still widely applied.

Good post Srijith!


Maya Cassis said...

You have been tagged!;)

Maya Cassis said...

Ram: Right on:)
Sri rights beautifully.And so I keep coming back for more helpings

Srijith Unni said...

@Ram : I never knew about "Theories of Learning".. great so it`s official now. Thanks!
And.. royalty checks.. :-0 Well.. let`s jus wait and see.

@Maya : What do you mean.. TAGGED..? what am i supposed to do.. :-( I don`t know about tags...
Thanks for coming back though.


HAd to read this one too : agreed some things linger on our minds for more time than the others. Your wiping the back practice is something new to my ears. I love RK Narayans books. I adore "Bachelor of arts". tht guy wrote such simple stuff and I always believed I was living in his stories. :)

Srijith Unni said...

@Scribblez : Thanks for coming by, Yeah I too love R.K.Narayanan`s writings, They are just so natural and induce so much of happiness @ heart. In fact I remember I posted something on him here