Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Writing with Children in Delhi

I'm visiting Delhi after nearly 20 years. It's changed beyond recognition but it's still bursting with stories, from the tombs of emperors to the remains of the Raj, to more personal family stories of houses lived in, schools attended, events and mishaps and memories.

Speaking to young readers at the India Habitat Centre and at Vasant Valley School, I found that while of course everyone knows Harry Potter (my son and I even found a Hindi edition in a book shop in Connaught Place) they were also eager to write and share their own stories.

We wrote together, and the students (mostly 2nd to 5th standards/grades) read their drafts. Many of the India Habitat Centre stories focused on the room, which was round and colorful and quirkily decorated with posters and polka-dots on one section of wall.

At VVS, we wrote about what might be hidden in this picture taken in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi. Who's behind the hedge? Where's the man going? Who's waiting for him? What if a squirrel were to shin up the lamp-post? How could you write this so your reader would care?

The only expectations worth holding about writing are those that relate to such story questions. The answers get more complex as you get older and more conscious of markets and audiences, but living with the questions is the whole point of the exercise.


  1. Hi Uma,

    Thanks for posting the pictures and the blog. I felt really nostalgic as I haven't been back home (Bombay) or India for that matter, in eight years.
    I wonder how HP would read in Hindi...
    Hope you'll post some more so I can enjoy vicariously.


  2. How exciting for you to travel back. Sounds like you had great fun writing with the kids while you were there.

  3. Sounds like a great visit!

    Thanks for the Robert's Snow Contest! I got my book from Stephanie Roth yesterday!

    Seems like I’m on a winning roll. I posted about it and linked your blog. Oh, and tagged you. If you want to join, just stop by. Thanks again!


  4. Oh, the power of a picture ! I look at them and my heart beats faster, because I remember being there, I remember touching those carvings, looking through the latice work in Humayun's tumb... and it's another connection. Good luck with the VC packets.