Wednesday , 27 March 2019

Culinary history for children

Harsha Shetye wants Goan children to know their traditional kitchen tools and other cultural things. She has achieved her aim with her book, ‘Champu In Randchikud’ that will release on August 25 at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao. She shares her views with NT BUZZ



Harsha Shetye is a passionate writer who manages her versatility being a poet, storyteller, and writer with ease. She loves to cook traditional Goan recipes that are rare in present times. Her passion for collecting ancient Goan traditional kitchen tools and equipment has strongly fortified her roots to the Goan culture. Her upcoming children’s short story book, ‘Champu in Randchikud’ is an attempt to motivate children to read and introduce them to their Goan roots.

Harsha was fond of telling her son Raj stories who would always make a fuss in eating his food as an infant. She says: “The only way to feed him was singing rhymes and creating stories.” Back then, she never thought of jotting the stories down or documenting them.

A few years back, Konkani Bhasha Mandal organised many workshops on children’s literature that included resource persons from NCERT Delhi, Usha Sharma and from Ektara Bhopal, Sushil Shukla. They trained potential story writers with the prime focus on being careful while they wrote stories for children.

Here Harsha learnt how to write stories for children, usage of words and most importantly about the words that shouldn’t be used at all. She further understood that certain subjects like nature and the surroundings and new concepts that a writer wants to introduce to children should appear naturally, and not intentionally. She extensively read children’s literature to understand the rules followed.

“The stories were there in my mind because I had created them but the way of putting them into words was a task. The presentation of the story makes it effective, we have to be especially choosy in the stories we write for children. The workshops organised by Konkani Bhasha Mandal were beneficial and I learnt to execute my stories from introduction to climax quite effectively and effortlessly.” She wrote most of the stories during the workshops that were then corrected and rectified by the other learners at workshops.

Earlier, all children’s stories compulsorily had to have a moral but with the changing trends, story writers write stories for children to inculcate the reading habit in them, to help them learn the language, to entertain them, and to introduce them to a new concept, subject or surrounding.

Harsha constantly writes about ancient Goan kitchen tools on Konkani magazines and she has introduced these tools to children in her collection of stories ‘Champu in Randchikud’. Tools like ‘shevgo’ meant to make vermicelli is unique to Goa and unknown to children, when they are introduced as a noodle-maker to them, they easily remember it. Similarly, wooden kitchen toys that are sold at Fatorpa feast are introduced to children through story. She has kept in mind the present times and has created the scenes that involves grandmothers and grandfathers who have recently retired from their service, something that is seen today and thus children can relate to.

Her sole aim behind writing these stories was to introduce the names of the Goan traditional and cultural tools, toys, and other things that are still unknown to children. Although we do not use these tools in our kitchen today, Harsha believes that children should know the value of their heritage and the roots of Goan culture.

Speaking about the title of the book, Harsha mentions that she had a doll named Champu in her childhood. “I dwelled on my childhood as well as my son’s childhood while writing stories of this book. The ideas and expressions that came from my son (as an infant) when I told him a story, I’ve added in these in the stories. Writing this book was a nostalgic journey for me,” she adds.

Children learn faster when they are young and they can pick up almost anything from what they read. Harsha has learnt to be careful with her usage of words while writing stories. Discriminatory words with reference to skin colour or words like ‘blind’, ‘deaf’, ‘fat’ should not be used. Rather they should be presented indirectly such as ‘blind’ can be replaced by ‘he couldn’t not see’.

‘Champu In Randchikud’ is her first short story collection for children. She has earlier written nursery rhymes in ‘Jagma’ in 2010, travelogues in ‘Chala Bharat Bhovuya’ in 2013 and ‘Bomade’ (one children story) in 2017. The travelogues are usually meant for adults, but she thought of introducing the concept of travelogues to children by writing simple language. Her other books include ‘Mhaji Mati Mhaje Mollob’ (Poetry, 2007), ‘Motyanchi Mall’ (collection of essays, 2011), ‘Anandyatra’ (travelogues, 2012), ‘Katharang’ (short stories, 2014), and ‘Goyanchi Savanni’ (Birds of Goa, 2016).

‘Champu In Randchikud’ is published by Dambab Prakashan. The cover page is illustrated by Anant Kamat Bambolkar, while the illustrations and paintings inside the book are by Seeya Pandit. With a total of 13 stories, the high quality coloured pictures and illustrations, this book certainly competes with other English story books and makes for a good read.

(‘Champu In Randchikud’ by Harsha Shetye will release on August 25 at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao at 4.30 p.m.)

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