Seasons of Storytelling
Welcome to 2021 - Seasons of Storytelling from Vayu
We made significant partnerships of words, light and the bridge of hope.
Thanks to Weavers in India whose lives and handlooms are valued through boutiques like Samasta we celebrated stories of thread across oceans and landscapes to doorways and smiles of the spirit of Sri-It is SHE. We spread the word about MannDeshi a super She cooperative in interior Maharashtra with women preparing Diwali feast-exchanges from the safety of their homes in a regulated distribution during the pandemic.
We had Rekha’s floral illustrations of Vayu’s Ramayana, Caryn’s reaching out from Hannukah to tell us tales and we had our young philosophy group of Balvikas creatively sharing their offerings for Christmas with the mesmerising and luminous telling of Emily Hennessy’s the birth and beginnings of a new light.
Here WE Are in 2021:
Thanks to The House of Talent, we decided in Making meaning of Myths. So often classical and folk myths are dismissed. Take a closer look : they have the enigma and potential of making meaning of ‘where am I now and how did I get here’, before shaping the landscape to walk on ahead.
North and south of the equator and lockdown Britain We looked at old myths, and why fairytales are different. What could this mean to us zooming across the time of Covid? And suddenly like peas popping out of pods the images, the words, the feelings of colours and all that had been suspended began to rain in tales of healing, escaping, co-responding. It proved that myths dare us on an inner journey to test the two sides to Truth of the way we have stopped seeing ourselves and how we re-act to others, expecting them to see us the way we would like them to!
Going deeper began the journey of deep connections of re-seeing time, the earth and ourselves as connected cells.
Storytelling in a new graft of self-science considering history, classics and now making our own myths - not unreliable, but meaning of our awakened reality of how we connect to the others in us and us in them.
Our first Story for the season rest for regeneration is by Dr Jane Riddiford, Director Global Generation.
Dr Jane Riddiford
It had been a busy morning, bouncing from one meeting to another and finally it was lunch time and I made my way in through the yellow gates of our Skip Garden. A little space for the wild and the free amidst the rise of glass and steel buildings that King’s Cross has now become. I saw some of my colleagues sitting around a table and without thinking sat down amongst them. It was only then I looked around, there were a few unfamiliar faces. It turned out this wasn’t our staff lunch, it was a meeting between our garden team, a patient and two GP’s from the Caversham practice. Coincidentally the practice is minutes from where I live in Kentish Town and where I am registered, although I have hardly ever been there. There was a good feeling between everyone at the table and I noticed that one of the doctors was smiling at me and so I stayed and joined the meeting. Something happened that lunchtime that would bear fruit months later.
Fast forward and I am walking down a long grey linoleum corridor, diligently following the yellow line down the middle, it seemed to go on forever before I came to the right sign and the right set of fire doors, made my way in and joined the rows of people sitting in chairs with blue plastic padding. I was in a patient’s waiting room of the Royal Free hospital, unfamiliar names were being called and then I heard my name shouted out across the room. I turned around and a nurse with a white coat and those special thick soled weight loss trainers was waiting to lead me into a consulting room where a doctor in thick black rimmed spectacles looked up from a pile of notes. Before he spoke, I took in his warm brown eyes and that he was wearing studded cowboy boots. He was relaxed but I felt worried … about the fact that he didn’t look very healthy. We have some good news and some bad news, he said, “what do you want to hear first?”. “The bad news,” I replied. “We have found some breast cancer”. My heart missed a beat and the room went all blurry … “and the good news”, I stuttered. “The tumour is small, we have caught it early and it is totally treatable …. I will now leave you with the nurse and she can explain more about what we have in store for you.” And with that he left, leaving me feeling out of my depth, like I was way out at sea. The nurse promptly led me into her tiny little office; it was more like a broom cupboard. There was a single electric bulb, no window and just enough room for a fold up chair for me to sit on. I wondered if this was really meant for the patients. The nurse reached up to a shelf and brought down a huge red folder stuffed full of glossy pamphlets, one by one she passed them over to me talking all the time; drugs, wigs, breast enhancements. My mind was swimming and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t take in anything she said, “it’s all going to be alright you’ll just need some surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy and maybe five or possibly ten years of hormone tablets”. I remember thinking, “I don’t think so,” but I really didn’t know. As I was leaving, she said, “a word of advice, don’t look on the internet, just follow what we say, it’ll be better that way.”
The path ahead seemed like a maze, “perhaps the nurse is right” I thought, “the easiest thing would be to not think too much and agree to whatever is suggested. At the same time I knew I needed to call on everything I had at my disposal before making any definite, irreversible decisions. It didn’t take long before I called on the smiling GP who I had met all those months ago on that hot sunny day, sitting in the middle of the Skip Garden. On our first appointment we talked a lot or rather I talked and she listened and slowly I began to feel I might be able to navigate my own way through. It was a long appointment, and as the talk went on, time seemed to slow down. The myriad of choices that lay ahead of me turned into steps that I could face and I realised that I could pace out the times when I needed to make each decision.
The second time I met with my GP, she suggested I come early, at 7.30 in the morning, before her clinic started. She led me into the beautiful organic garden in the middle of the Caversham practice that is known as the Listening Space - there was a basket and a thermos flask and I watched in amazement as she laid out homemade bread and jam and picked fresh herbs from the garden to make our tea with. We didn’t talk much at all about my health; we ate and we talked about the things we both shared; our sense of nature and healing, and how a GP practice with all the many relationships that are held there, had the potential to be the heart of a community. Through the conversation I forgot that I was now meant to be a ‘disease person’, instead it made me realise I was a ‘well person’ and from that moment on I decided that is who I would be. No matter what was happening in some part of my body, I would try and see it from the part of me that was a well person with a miraculous body that I knew very little about. I even decided to love those little tiny cells that seemed to be performing in an unusual way, who were they? What were they saying to me?
I did have surgery and people were very kind to me, lending my husband Rod and I places for convalescence; a cottage on the sand in Whitstable and a caravan on the Gower Peninsula, right by the sea. In the early mornings we would run along the beach and float and stand in the water, roaring at the top of our voices to match the crashing sounds of the waves. I felt the strength of the ocean enter into my cells. Then came the news, the surgery was successful and the boundaries on the cells they had removed were all clear. Good news, well sort of. We had moved into the next phase and I knew that now there were even harder decisions to make.
The next hospital visit was with the oncologist; afterwards I called her dragon lady. I sat in a wrinkly t-shirt in front of a smart young woman in a crisp white blouse and shiny black patent leather stilettos … not much good for moving quickly on the linoleum I thought. As we began to talk she sat up straight, looked me in the eye and said, “I can see you’ve thought about this a lot, I don’t know about many things but I can assure you that I know everything about your condition, I sit on this advisory panel and that advisory panel and even another very select European panel.” I could feel myself shrink in the face of her most expert expertise, after all who the hell was I to have an opinion about what might be right for my body. I only just managed to pluck up enough courage to say, “can we slow things down, can you give me a month before I make any decisions.” I wished I had gone with Rod that day. I walked home slowly across the heath ... stopping and sitting amongst the trees.
Finally I got to the street where I live and just as I was going past the Caversham practice my phone went; it was my GP. “Do you want to come and see me now?” I couldn’t believe it. We sat and wrote letters together in her little practice room; letters to other oncologists so I could at least see what others had to say. Eventually return letters with appointments and opinions came. It was helpful in an unexpected kind of way. One of the consultants said, I definitely should do most of the treatment that was on offer, in other words, a full course of chemotherapy as it would make a 2% difference. Even to my untrained mind, this sounded like a miniscule amount; it was disturbing that she was un-hesitating in her advice. Perhaps she was expecting me to read between the lines. On the other hand when I discussed the option of chemotherapy with a kindly consultant from UCL, an older Indian man, he looked at me with a tear in his eye, “it’s the only thing we’ve got” and then he went on to say. “whatever you choose will really only work if you are completely behind it. If you can find a way to not be afraid of your fear it will make a big difference, but there is only about 2% of people who can do that when faced with this disease.” Could I even dare to think I might be one of those people; I was curious how he came to that number. Time was running out and my mind was swinging like crazy, between going this way or that, more treatment or none or ... I just didn’t know what to do. A few days later I took a nap; as sometimes happens, I dreamt that I was walking amongst trees. When I woke up I knew I had to go to the Heath. It was dusk by the time I got to a quiet place off the path. Even though it was late autumn and quite cold, I took my shoes off and walked. The feeling of soft cool earth met the soles of my feet and a tingling feeling of aliveness spread through my body, my breathing went deep and slow. The appointment with the dragon woman was the next day and suddenly it became clear what I wanted to say.
I don’t remember how I got to the hospital but I do remember ironing a smart button up shirt and polishing a remotely tidy pair of shoes and that Rod came with me. “Well” said Dragon Lady, “what have you decided ?”. My rehearsed words were weak, Rod said afterwards he had never seen me so intimidated by anyone, but at least I spoke and I managed to say exactly what I wanted to say; “Thank you for all the time you have put into seeing me and thinking about my case … I have decided that at least for now, I won’t be taking the path you have suggested.” Amazingly in that moment Dragon Lady and I both relaxed, she even smiled, especially when I signed a form to say I knew the choice I was making and she wished me well and said I could come and see her whenever I wanted.
Thinking back on that time, I would say it was through listening and love and walking in the way of the forest I found a way home….
We are the tongue that tells the truth
We are the song upon the wind
We are the courage to stand forth
So that change it can begin
On this good green earth we must take a stand
With an open heart and a healing hand
Seasons of Storytelling
HANUKKAH (10th -18th December)
Long, long ago – about 2,200 years ago - in Jerusalem, a war broke out between the Greeks and the Jews. The Greeks won, drove the Jews out of their houses, confiscated their belongings and forced them to worship idols, which was against Jewish law. Worst of all, the Greeks banned the Jews from studying the Torah, the Jewish book of wisdom, the most important possession of any Jew. They did not accept it as something holy that connects people to God.
Happy Hanukkah, everyone! A photo taken in Germany in 1931. On the back of the picture, the rabbi's wife wrote, "Our light will outlast their flag."
Introduction by Vayu Naidu
For a long time, no one could stand up against the Greeks and the Jews suffered greatly. Finally, a group of Jewish people called the Maccabees revolted and freed Jerusalem from their rulers.
For the Jews, this was a miracle.
When they returned to Jerusalem, they set out to rededicate their temple to their God, as the Greeks had been worshipping their idols and Greek gods there.
And then came a miracle even greater than defeating the Greek armies: the miracle of oil. As part of the rededication, the Jewish people needed to relight the menorah, a candle-holder with nine branches, whose light is created by burning oil. Searching the temple for oil, they found only one single jar of untouched oil – enough to last just one day.
Taking a leap of faith, they relit the menorah. To their surprise, it stayed lit for eight days, seven more days than was possible with one small jar of oil. This, to the Jews, was the true miracle from God. They had risked their lives to save their faith and God had sent a message of light to thank them.
Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration. Each day another candle is lit, commemorating each day that the oil lasted.
Since then, the Jews have drawn joy from that light, even through times of darkness. The eight days of Hanukkah are celebrated with parties, games, delicious potato pancakes and chocolate coins. Lighting a candle every night for 8 nights is a reminder to charge ourselves with light, to pluck up our courage and never lose hope through all the days of the years to come and always to turn darkness to light.
Dr Caryn Solomon
Dr Caryn Solomon reads the story of Hanukkah
Village Schools Project
Our goal is to improve the Nyae Nyae Lower Primary Village Schools infrastructural needs. We must however go beyond “fixing up schools”. We recommend a collaborative approach focusing on solving immediate infrastructural problems, simultaneously focusing on the development of sustainable, long term solutions.
For more information view website and video
DIWALI (6th – 14th November)
The epic Ramayana culminates in the festival of Diwali. Celebrated around the world, preparations begin this week and its finale is on
14 November in 2020. With COVID restrictions this year we will miss the sparklers, crackers and the yearly bonfire that all come into Diwali’s Lila.
However, we will be lighting lamps in doors, and in our hearts. After all, this living legend from world epic literature is about the triumph of light in a world engulfed momentarily, by the dark.
With the odyssey of Sita and Rama and the pantheon of human and animal characters, we understand the struggle continuously to save and raise the value of life against oppression. Here, Life focuses on environment – external and internal. The flower-petals-leaves Rangoli Kolams I’m curating are:
1. The King Receives the gift of his prayers by
REKHA SUNIL KULKARNI - India. Artist of Petal-&-Leaves Rangoli
2. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni - The childhood of the Princes. Flower and petal Rangoli in Memory of PRACHI Kulkarni
3. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni - Rama faces his fear and defeats the demon Tataka who is polluting the Dandaka forest. Flower and petal Rangoli in Memory of PRACHI Kulkarni
5. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni's rangoli of the enchanted Sita by the Golden Deer in the forest
4. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni - Sita recognises Rama who breaks Shiva's iron bow and advances with garland. Flower and petal Rangoli in Memory of PRACHI Kulkarni
6. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni's rangoli of Sita advising Hanuman in Ashokavan
7. Rekha Sunil Kulkarni's rangoli of Rama facing Ravana in a battle to save light on earth.
Dedicated to the memory of PRACHI KULKARNI, Created by REKHA SUNIL KULKARNI,
chief executive officer, Mann Deshi, Empowering Women, Transforming Lives
www.twitter.com/MannDeshiOrg | www.instagram.com/manndeshi
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Head office: Mhaswad, Taluka Mann, District Satara - 415509
I share the joy of commissioning and curating this album of illustrations by REKHA to a Ramayana I am telling for the first and twenty thousandth and twentieth time. For me, the lockdowns of this Pandemic are a seed time for infinite possibilities for the future of our planet; starting clear, hands-on, and simple. It is with immense delight that I distribute sweets after the storytelling. The best way for me to bring it to your door is for you to support the women I admire of MANN DESHI who make them. This will be a story remembered of a time that we can pass on about the Anthropocene too.
In recreating nights of storytelling in cyber time, the final part of the epic will culminate on 14 November, so do click and share with family and friends, with wishing us the light of wisdom from self-reflection that Ramayana brings time and time after time….
Text and ‘bina patrika’ unscripted Storytelling – Dr Vayu Naidu
©Vayu Naidu: words, images on this website.
Remember, remember the fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason, Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions did the scheme contrive, to blow the King and Parliament all up alive.
A stick and a stake For King James's sake! If you won't give me one, I'll take two, The better for me, And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, A penn'orth of cheese to choke him, A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him. Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! Holloa, boys! holloa boys!
God save the King! Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
More stories and storytelling coming...
REKHA SUNIL KULKARNI - India. Artist of Petal-&-Leaves Rangoli