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Monday, 23 September 2013

Silver storytelling

Historic: Pune University. Photo: Vivek Bendre The Hindu Historic: Pune University. Photo: Vivek Bendre Often during childhood, one grows up hearing stories and tales from their grandparents. Many a times, their stories include quirky episodes which could only have occurred prior to the onslaught of the metropolitan culture in various cities. In an enthusiastic initiative to capture all these stories before they get reduced to phantoms of a memory, writer Sudha Menon brings through ‘Telling our Stories’ project, the Memories Project which will attempt to capture stories from the senior citizens of Pune.

As a part of the project Menon will conduct free writing workshops and invite senior citizens across Pune to come and share their stories on paper. After a few weeks of assistance, Menon will ask them to write an essay to record some memorable parts of their lives. She aims to capture the evolution of the city through the lens of personal accounts of the people who live and thrive there, as their experiences will be able to provide a window to the world that no history book can. The senior citizens are the ones “who have seen the transition of the city of Peshwas, warrior princes and great social reformers who made it a city of culture and learning and if we don't catch their stories and preserve them, I think we will lose a precious slice of history forever,” said Menon.

The cultural hub of Maharashtra and the ‘motor city’ for the country, ‘Puniya Nagri’ boasts of residents belonging to various cultures, ethnicities and even spiritualities. A fast growing industrial and education city, Pune today attracts a lot of young population for study and work. To capture the history and spirit of this city is a task that Menon is most excited to undertake, “There is no bigger and credible source for stories of our past than the people who lived in those times --- from them we can know the cultural and social fabric of society, preserve precious traditions...”

The stories will range from the inhabitants of the traditional ‘wadas’ (old housing structure in Pune), people who came here as refugees after the partition of India, the traders and the famous Irani bakers of the city, who have seen the city evolve from a major political hub in the pre-partition days to becoming a major military hub of the country and simultaneously developing as a progressive industrial township.

Each unique anecdote will prove to be a live-museum of the city’s residents. Ultimately, the stories would be complied into a book.

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