History & Culture

Three Project 560 grantees present their work on areas in Bengaluru

Bengaluru through your eyes

Does Jayanagar 3rd Block have an Egyptian connection? What is the story behind Bride Street? How did the stories and experiences of the children living at MGR Colony in Banashankari translate into art?

These were some of the questions asked and answered at the Unravelling Neighbourhood Stories presentation by three Project 560 grantees – Gayatri Chandrashekar, Sharanya Iyer and Pallavi Chander – organised by India Foundation for the Arts recently.

The idea behind the grant is to allow ordinary citizens to tell stories of their neighbourhood and the people themselves.

Creative arts therapy

Pallavi Chander, a creative arts therapist, worked with adolescent children of MGR Colony in Banashankari on an arts-based therapy intervention programme at Buguri Library that is still ongoing.

“I spent about four months at the library in 2017 and realised that the children were listening to stories and internalising them. As that happened, they wanted to talk about how these stories related to their own lives and how they were processing the issues that were coming up. That is when we felt that a therapeutic space would really benefit them. The creative arts therapy programme was set up in 2018.”

She added that it took time to establish certain things like confidentiality and being non-judgemental. The girls and boys had separate sessions. “For the girls, some of the things we looked at was gender, sexuality, personal histories. How do you deal with fear, how do you build strength through vulnerability?”

Pallavi said that one of the sessions with the girls that was a highlight was on menstruation.

“Most of them got their first period during our sessions and there is a ritual that they go through. The girls had a lot of questions like why do they give us all these things to eat, what is it about?”

With the boys, she said they looked at questions like what does it mean to be a boy, what does it mean to have power, and what are their aspirations? A session that stood out was one where they wanted to learn to cook. “This was something that really brought the boys together.”

At the end of nine months, both groups wanted to share their experiences with the community. The girls put up a performance on the story of Baba Yaga. a Russian folktale, and also came out with a book. The boys came out with a recipe book, Oota Aiyitha? Pallavi said, “This is an ongoing project. In year two, we took the performance into the community and it had a lot more involvement from them. The older children had a tuck shop with pani puri and rose milk and then they shared stories that had moved them for which they made puppets.”

Balochistan connection

Gayatri, a singer and journalist, peppered her presentation with her recollections of the city. It was after hearing about an Egyptian block in Jayanagar 3rd Block that she set out to find more. On talking to many people, she discovered that while there was no Egyptian Block, there was a Tareen Block, which had a connection to Balochistan.

Gayatri found out that one Ghouse Khan Tareen, who was employed in the Imperial Police Force, was transferred from Quetta to serve as a police officer under the Maharaja in Mysore State. She came to know that his grandson, Zaferulla Khan Tareen, is still practising as a doctor in nearby Basavangudi. And his daughters still live in Jayanagar. “After Ghose Khan passed away in his 40s, his son, Obeidulla, was given a job in the police on compassionate grounds. He, however, didn’t like it and resigned. His good friend was Shafi Mekhri, who was a well-known ophthalmologist in Bengaluru, who advised him to do an optometrist course and open a spectacle shop in City Market area. He made money and bought land in Jayanagar, Srirangapatna and Hoskote taluk and grew crops.”

Last September, Gayatri decided to do a musical presentation with the aid of some of her music students. “With that, I told the story through the mouths of others.”

Richmond Town Diaries

Sharanya’s project, Richmond Town Diaries, which involved 10 children and their mothers, began with the children wondering what were the stories behind names such as Curly Street and Alexandria Street.

Sharanya, who is an architect, said she began with asking questions such as how to get people to really experience and connect with a neighbourhood. “Of course, the idea was to see if the children could see what was around them, not as something they read in a history book but as something that they observed and responded to.” She added that this resulted in an art show and a walk, both of which were mostly driven by the children.

“We started with the interesting street names but we quickly reached a dead end as most of them were names of people. Some had stories such as Bride Street where brides came to find their prospective grooms.

We also thought that there should be diversity in terms of choosing street names that represented all the diverse cultures of Richmond Town and we were thinking of walkability for the children. So, we looked at the streets, maps, what changed or didn’t, and what could have been historic streets or landmarks and then we came up with a map, identifying five locations and in between spaces.”

The children went around with diaries noting down information and their observations. This was the basis for their artworks. “We chose a different medium for each of the artworks based on the location and what was relevant to it. For example, because the mosque had a lot of mirror mosaic, it was chosen for Johnson Market.”

Sharanya said it culminated with an exhibition day where they displayed the artworks.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:41:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/bengaluru-through-your-eyes/article31039570.ece

Next Story