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The Girl who Taught the World to Weave

The Girl who Taught the World to Weave

This is a story of the time when humans first walked the earth. And in those days they did not wear clothes, for they did not know how to weave cloth. One day, the god Matai decided to teach the art of weaving to one person. The god taught a girl called Hambrumai. And what were the designs the girl wove? She sat by the river side and saw the ripples and circles made by water....

The Dog and the Pig

The Dog and the Pig

Retold from ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples. A man kept two animals — a dog and a pig. He kept them in the hope that they would help him in his work. But he was sorely disappointed. All they did was eat and eat and eat....

How the First House was Built

How the First House was Built

A long time ago, humans were only as tall as hens and rabbits. These tiny “humans”, if you can call them that, lived under trees. Living in trees was not very nice. During rains they got wet. In summers they sweated madly, and in winter they almost froze into ice. Life was tough. How the First House was Built [Illustrations by Sudheer Nath] So they started living in burrows, just the way rabbits do....

When the Earth and Sky were Married

When the Earth and Sky were Married

A Muria folk tale from Orissa retold from ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples. People around the world have different ways of explaining how the earth came to be the way it is: the sky above, the earth below....

And Elephants did Fly

And Elephants did Fly

A Saora folk tale from Orissa retold from ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples. There was a time when elephants could fly. The world was young then, and they had wings — four big wings. In fact they were God’s greatest vehicle; he used to ride one of them....

When Humans had Tails

When Humans had Tails

A Saora folk tale from Orissa retold from ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples. The Saora tribals of Orissa, in eastern India, believe that there was a time when humans had tails. Wherever they went, their tails swished along, sweeping the ground....

A Frog's Friendship

A Frog's Friendship

From ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples. There was a time when the Frog had thick legs and he lived on land. He was so very different from the frogs that we see today, with their thin spindly legs and their watery homes....

A School for Dreamers

A School for Dreamers

A school for dreamers? Teachers who help you build castles in the air? But such a school does exist. Here children have their heads in the clouds, but their feet planted firmly on the ground. Well, not quite planted. The mighty leaps into the air and well-aimed kicks during the ‘kalaripayittu’ class are the envy of any acrobat. (Kalaripayittu, an ancient martial art of Kerala, is the mother of all martial arts in the world)....

Duped Again

Duped Again

October 21: There are two Indias – the India of the powerful, privileged classes and the India of the masses. The powerful have good jobs and enviable lifestyles while the masses are precariously perched on the brink of survival. A large proportion of the masses lives in villages, which, as Mahatma Gandhi said long ago, is where the real India lives. Ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-educated. Time and again, this real India finds itself being taken for a ride....

Chattering Kids and Teacher's Tape

Chattering Kids and Teacher's Tape

July 8: It happened in a primary school in the city of La Plata, Argentina. There were 70 bright-eyed children in one class. Seventy chattering children, all seven years old. A school rehearsal was on for Argentina’s Independence Day celebrations. And the teacher tried her best to see that they kept quiet during the rehearsal. But, the children did not. Chattering Kids and Teacher’s Tape [Illustration by Sudheer Nath] The teacher lost her cool....

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