Friday, April 15, 2011

Reading Gulla and the Hangul in Kashmir

Well known theatre director and educationist Feisal Alkazi has been doing wonderful workshops with teachers and children using many of Tulika’s books. One of them was Gulla and the Hangul, a story from Kashmir written by Mariam Karim-Ahlawat and illustrated by Proiti Roy. He writes about the experience...
The Lolab valley lies the extreme north of Kashmir, kilometers away from the LOC. The Shah Anwar Memorial School run by a prominent Kashmiri NGO, the HELP Foundation, is named after a well known Kashmiri writer.

Surrounded by snow capped mountains, this valley is full of apple orchards and rice fields. It is here that a Delhi based NGO, Creative Learning for Change is conducting the first of three workshops for teachers. Fourteen young teachers actively participate in the range of activities.

On the second day two hours are spent reading the book Gulla and the Hangul. Working in small groups of four each, the teachers excitedly follow the words and the pictures. It is a story rooted in their own environment and they resonate with it. In the animated discussion that follows it is clear that they are struck by the theme and its inventive depiction. By the next morning it has been translated into both Urdu and Kashir(Kashmiri)! The coordinator from Srinagar is so thrilled by this local tale that he is already working on a dramatization that he hopes to have ready by June! Amazingly enough of the 40+ titles we have carried from Delhi in Urdu and English, it is the only one with any Muslim character. So much for Indian publishers!!
- Feisal Alkazi

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