Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mega Learning Experiment – Part 2 - Workshops, Friends

I woke up early on the 4th February. I had to catch an early morning train to Churchgate from the suburbs, before the rush hour started in the morning.

I reach Churchgate by 9 30 am. My workshop was to start at 11 am. So I decided to explore the street book stalls in Churchgate. Most of these stalls have a good collection of latest fiction and non fiction books. You can even pay half the price sometimes, if you return the book after reading it. I spent an hour and a half looking through the collection at these stalls after which I headed for Kala goda for the workshop.

Writing Workshops at Kala Goda

The first workshop I planned to attend was a writing workshop by the then editor of the paper Hindustan Times. His name was Saumya Bhattacharya.

He started the session by reading a few passages from a memoir on cricket he had recently written. He followed that with some advice on the art of memoir writing for the participants. He explained why reading was such an important skill to write good memoirs. He mentioned that reading a dozen memoirs would teach the participant a lot more than just listening to a talk.

He shared a list of his favorite memoirs with us that included the books by Julian Barnes’, titled ‘Nothing to be frightened off’ and by Nick Hornby, titled ‘Fever Pitch’.

He spoke about a memoir he had written on cricket. He described how cricket was a parallel universe. For the viewer disappointments were not taken personally, but wins were theirs to keep. And he added that writing a memoir was not an easy task and every time he finished a book, he felt he had a little less of himself.

Friends at the Festival
Before the workshop I made two new friends, Mrs Patricia who had a writers club in Mumbai and a student from a local college by the name of Anish. The student had a love for language and literature. He told me how fortunate he was to understand three regional languages Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi as he could read the great works of literature in their native language through this skill.

The workshop was very informative and there was quite a lot to learn from Mr Soumya's extensive journalism experience.

The second workshop I planned to attend that day, was a cultural journalism workshop by the writer Jerry Pinto. He started the workshop with a quote from Mark Twain stating, ‘Journalism is literature in a hurry.’ As a cultural journalist we had to answer the questions of What? Who? When? Where? How? He spoke about how he took up an interesting cultural journalism exercise of watching over 5000 foreign language films. He also described his personal writing experiences and the stories behind the books he had written. He had won a National Award for best book on cinema at the 54th National Film Awards.

He told us why it was so important to have rich and wide sources or means of inspiration. The richer the sources the richer the output or production.He ended the workshop with an interesting exercise. He told us to pick a partner from the audience, to interview the partner and then to write a one page description about the person.

When you find a Kindred Spirit

I told the girl who was interviewing me, about my gap year and educational experiment of the past year. After describing my story, she shares with me her story. Surprisingly she too was a homeschooler. She had studied at the Rishi Valley School in Coimbatore till the tenth grade and after a year in a normal school decided to finish her 12th grade through the national open schooling method. She had taken some time off to travel and get some new experiences. She shared with me her experiences at Rishi Valley, a TEDx Conference she organized and some of her travel experiences around India. It was such an extra-ordinary coincidence that I had met her. I was thinking about contacting someone from the Rishi Valley School the week before, and that day I got to meet her. We exchanged contact details, hoping to stay in touch and share more adventures and stories from our self-education journeys.

Let us Learn Together
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