Tale spun

Spin a yarn and keep alive the art of storytelling urges Katha Kosa’s new challenge.

Remember a time when all you really wanted was to be hushed by an animated “once upon a time…” and a happy lull would settle gently upon the world? British writer, Philip Pullman says it best, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

Stories also have the power to inspire, to engage, to inculcate knowledge and cultures, and to entertain. It’s a sentiment that Dhara Kothari, founder of Katha Kosa that endorses. Katha Kosa, is a year-old organisation dedicated to the art of storytelling, has plans to organise activities, events, and meetings around “storytelling” in a bid to revive the dying art. Their latest initiative, Stories on a Postcard Challenge is a fun enterprise jointly conducted by Katha Kosa, Settle Stories, UK and India Post. The collaboration with Settle Stories is a result of a chance encounter Kothari had with founder Sita Brand. Kothari sought assistance from the good old India Postal Service, who unexpectedly responded positively.

Participating in the challenge is simple: anyone from anywhere in the Indian subcontinent can write a story that physically fits on a postcard and drop it in an old-fashioned red and black post box. In an age, where technology has taken over almost all forms of communication between human beings, the Stories on a Postcard challenge will be a unique experience for folks who’ve probably never seen a postcard.

The story entries could be in any genre- fiction, non-fiction, true experiences, thriller, sci-fi, or romance. They could also be in any form- prose, poetry, illustrations, even. Participants are allowed multiple submissions but the rules dictate that every entry have its postcard. Exhibitions featuring all entries will be held in the month of October during Postal Week in India and at the Storytelling Festival in the UK. There are plans to publish the submissions both in print as well as digital versions.

However enthused Kothari is about the first Stories on Postcard Challenge (which she plans to hold annually), what concerns her is the less than enthusiastic response from media houses, writers, and the lack of expected participation. More than children, it is the adults who need to be motivated to start writing, she feels. More than one person Kothari spoke to has assumed that the initiative was for kids and therefore would cheer her along, never once giving participating themselves a thought. We lamented jointly over this tragedy; people need to be shaken aware, and we assured ourselves with the possibility of a story doing that. Maybe, it will be a story on a postcard.

“The main purpose is to have fun” Kothari said when we met with her. So pick up a pen and start spinning a tale!

Address your postcards to Katha Kosa, c/o Director, Mumbai GPO, Mumbai-400001. The deadline for sending entries is Mon Sept 30. Also, visit kathakosa.com.

A version of this article appeared in Time Out Mumbai.

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