A Storyteller, educationalist, scholar, writer, dancer and polyglot.
Deepa Kiran shows us the power of telling a story. An age old tradition, long forgotten in the dusty archives of history. But I can vouch that it still exists because of people like her. Infact, weaving and creating a story is the ultimate strategy followed by all brands and individuals in the digital and advertising world today.
I have always been in awe of her and her work. So, it was a huge honour when I opened my inbox to read an email from her saying that she was ready to share her story.
I thought it would be only befitting, if the series began with her. So, here goes…
Someone who realised pretty early in life that her calling is telling stories, fate brought her close to people from across seas towards a tribe of equally passionate storytellers.
While she could realise her dreams professionally, life brought her many challenges in her personal life which she not only conquered with a lot of grace and dignity but came out of it a better person. Like many of us working mothers, she had to juggle work , even continuing her education and home life.
Sitting across from her and listening to her animated conversations about her life, I could only feel blessed to able to listen to the life experiences of this wonderfully strong woman and feel inspired by her journey. With it, also came the responsibility to present her with all the dignity she deserves and more.
We caught up over tea to exchange stories about our respective lives and minutes just flew into hours. She reacted to the blog series saying,”You bet my life has been a track-changing sojourn….especially between the ages of 30 & 40. Between this decade everything changed, from what I do to where I live to whom I am with.” She came out of a troubled marriage, is currently a single mother and has raised two sensitive and empathetic boys who recently made a short film on gender concerns.
Her life journey includes compering at All India Radio, flying glider planes, dancing, playing the violin, writing for newspapers and journals.
She has integrated her interests in education, art-education and education through arts and has been actively engaged with NGOs in related fields such as Pratham Books and Rainbow Homes in order to help grow the power of oral narrative traditions in the journey of exploring the world within and without; for the youth and educators in India and beyond. Not surprisingly, she is also a TED x Talk – Speaker at Amity University in 2016. Her talk on the role of storytelling in our lives is still popular online and I would say even more relevant today.
She has been part of many prestigious International storytelling Festivals in countries like Iran, Vietnam, Austria and Scotland. These travels have helped her grow as they enabled her to meet senior artists who have been in this field for years and she could pick up on many of their techniques and the kind of stories they tell children.
Folktales are Deepa’s own first love when it comes to telling tales, her eager audience may range from primary schoolchildren to adolescents. Having attended a couple of her storytelling sessions myself, I can vouch for how much she endears each member of the audience. I love how she begins each session with a foot tapping song always using a folk musical instrument related to the theme of the story.
What struck a deep chord between us was when through her experiences she narrated incidents of the human side of storytelling during her travels. A particular one, from one of her trips to Iran stayed with me.
After one of her successful storytelling sessions, she came across an elderly lady waiting patiently for her turn to talk to Deepa, who was surrounded by an eager audience. Finally, when Deepa got a chance to talk to the lady she apologized for the wait. The lady went on to recount a recurring dream from her childhood; of running anxiously through dark corridors and every time finally finding a kind woman at the bright-end, who’d reassuringly cup her hands around the child’s face. The woman she had seen in her recurring dreams was Deepa, she said. After sharing this story and giving her blessings, the lady left. Life can be stranger than fiction as they say ! Sometimes we might never be able to guess what bridges we make, what meanings they hold for whom and why.
Her parting shot,”I simply wish that the intangible cultural heritage of traditional and contemporary storytelling would be integrated further as an intrinsic part of education and society. And hopefully valued more deeply as an art form like in countries such as Iran, Scotland and Austria where there are active efforts towards the revival.”
Here’s to many more stories to warm the heart. Here’s to more power to the tribe and more storytellers like you Deepa!!
Liked reading this? This blog is a part of my blog series : The Human Side – A Reflective series on following your Passion. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.