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It is not until very recently, when I came across the topic for the essay contest, that I even sat to think about what or who are Chennai authors. And after much thought, I regret to say that though I’ve been a chennai-vaasi all my life, I do not know much about Chennai authors. But I have already made up my mind to write a tribute. But who am I paying tribute to? I haven’t figured out yet but I take this as an opportunity to set out on the hunt for the supposed Chennai authors.
In this pursuit to get to know about “Chennai authors”, I came across a few of them and made a quick mental note to read their works. Since I have indirectly established that I have neither read their works nor know much about them, what I am planning to do is to select about 2 or 3 authors, get to know about them, read some of their interviews and learn about their works.
In this process, I have selected 3 authors – Meena Kandasamy, Judy Balan, and our one and only Kalaignar MK. Hmmm . . . eclectic, you may think. It definitely is.
I started with reading up on Judy Balan. She is, to quote from her page, a “seriousish person who writes comedy”. She has authored a bestseller Two States: The Story of My Divorce, which, as you have rightly guessed, is a parody of Chetan Bhagat’s novel Two States: The Story of My Marriage.
She is a single parent and is working on a book series at the moment. Next in line is Meena Kandasamy who is a poet, writer, translator and an activist. She is the youngest Indian to have participated in the Iowa University International Writing Program. She has a very impressive collection of poems and writes about caste, domestic abuse – having experienced it herself. Lastly, Kalaignar, born in a remote village in the state and fought his way to the top. He excelled in both Tamil literature and politics.
In the case of the first two authors, I did not have the fortune of directly engaging with their works but I have watched some movies which had dialogues and screenplay by M Karunanidhi. The earliest in that series is the movie “Poompuhar”, which is based on the Tamil epic Silappatikaram. I watched it at a very young age and was captivated by the style and language. Since then, I have admired his works and tried to read some of them. The next black-and-white movie which I had liked is “Parasakthi” which holds a special place in the Tamil cinema history for screenplay, dialogue, its delivery and acting. These movies helped me realise something I had missed before – the beauty of Tamil. My mother tongue is Telugu and I had to speak in English at school. Since I had very little exposure to the language, I was not good at conversing in Tamil for many years. I only had textual knowledge of the language but these movies sowed the seeds of gaining an interest to develop my Tamil. Additionally, his love for his mother tongue made me want to be fluent in my mother tongue and his passion is one of the reasons that inspired me and I can now read literature and scripture in my mother tongue, something that I feel proud about.
Judy Balan and Meena Kandasamy, two strong independent women carved a niche for themselves despite the difficulties in their lives. I don’t want to go into the personal details of these authors but I would like to say that no matter how large the problems in life, we must cling on to that one voice which offers us hope and keeps us sane amidst chaos. It is this that made all these three fare well in their lives and this is going to be the takeaway for me from their experiences. This essay is a tribute that praises their spirit and endurance and is a celebration of their contribution to arts and for being proud children of namma Chennai.
17, Cathedral Rd, Poes Garden, Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600086
viswaroopam 2rangasthalamkolamavu kokilatamil padam 2aram Prime Video is streaming all episodes of the old TV series, which was adapted from a few stories from RK Narayan’s book of the same name.
check cafe chennai website – some retro at amethyst
This happened a month into the first year of my under graduation. We had to do a group seminar and the teacher was very particular that we don’t form groups among friends. She divided us into groups and I was with an entirely new set of people. I realized that it was the same for everyone and decided to break the ice. I first introduced myself and everyone did the same and got to know about each other. I understood that they were uncomfortable with the idea of seminar as most people have not heard about such a concept till then. So, I explained to them that it is only a test of their ability to research and learn things on their own and motivated them to overcome their misgivings. They soon warmed up to the idea and wanted to do the seminar well and asked me to help them. I agreed and volunteered to lead the group. We had brainstorming sessions and I noticed that people spoke very little. I told them that it is important that they voiced out their opinion and that their contribution is crucial. They found that encouraging and began to participate actively in discussions. We had two weeks’ time. On the day of our presentation, our group presented a really good seminar. We were eight of us and the professor appreciated our presentation. My group members were really happy that it came out very well and told me that I helped them deal with their inhibitions. I understood that it is important that a leader acts as a facilitator who helps the group members realize their strengths and make an effort collectively to achieve success.
I had to do a summer internship as part of my post graduation course requirement. I am interested in editing and I decided to apply for editing and proofreading companies. I got to know about the internship opportunity at Oxford University Press. I applied for it and took up a written test and an interview. I got selected for the internship. I was told in the beginning that it is very important that we stick to the deadlines as we were working on the content for primary school textbooks and it had to be finished by the last week of May. I only had three weeks to edit the manuscripts given which involved lesson plans for Math, English, and Social for Classes 1 to 5. In addition to this, I was also given the task of editing five additional lessons for Springboard, a Class 3 textbook. I had to work from scratch as the author had given only the content and a few exercise questions. I had to source images, edit, and proofread the content along with creating worksheets and exercise questions. I managed to finish this as well as the lesson plans in the stipulated time. My supervisor was quite happy with my work. I was assigned the task of proofreading for a textbook called Tulips. I had to edit the English lessons for of Classes 1 to 5 and Mathematics for Classes 3 and 4. They followed semester system. I had to edit a total of 14 books in 5 days. It was a herculean task but it is imperative that I finish it in 5 days. I divided the lessons for the 5 days. I also worked from home after the office hours. I diligently followed the schedule and completed the work on time. I had made suggestions regarding the content which was reviewed by my supervisor and the recommended changes were implemented.
I want to take a break after my post graduation (2019) before pursuing my doctoral research. It is my desire to join an NGO and work with school children. However, I need financial assistance as well. That’s when I remembered Teach for India. I know that it requires immense strength and commitment to become a Fellow at TFI. I want to apply for the fellowship because I know that I can fulfill my desire of teaching kids as well as be able to support myself financially. The fixed time period of two years is a good time – not too long or short – to gain a good exposure, experience as well as grow as an individual and also to inspire and make an impact on a few people. I firmly believe that it is not enough if a person is trained only to ace their exams. It is imperative that students are given vocational training and are encouraged to develop their skills that would help them in their life. I, for one, consider excellent education is something that gives practical training to students and helps them to face issues in life confidently.
I shall make use of technology and enable students to practically experience the mechanism behind concepts instead of studying only textbook definitions. I feel that we need to break out of the concrete walls that encompass us and encourage students to engage with nature and discover things for themselves. I will act as a facilitator when they need help. I am of the opinion that learning should be transformed from being regarded as a mundane activity to involving exploration and fun. As an alumna, I intend to spread awareness about the vision and mission of TFI effectively by sharing my personal experiences and speaking as an insider. I shall be in contact with the management committee and get to know about the needs and requirements and work towards fulfilling them.
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