May 13, 2014

Dream Factory

Balaji is a confident young boy who studies at a Corporation School in North Chennai.  He is never shy of talking to strangers and elders confidently in his mother-tongue Tamil. He has seen several foreigners talk fluently in English and has never got an opportunity to talk to any of them. Given a chance, he would try!

Ahmed is a cute and shy young boy studying in Balaji's class. He has an Aryan origin and his relatives stay in the northern parts of India. He stays with his parents in Chennai. He could not figure out where he belongs- not only geographically! He had a problem with memory, communication and confidence. A deadly trio! Any one of these three problems on its own is adequately sufficient to pull someone firmly down to the floor while trying to spread one’s wings. Ahmed was pressed hard by all three of them. His wings were slowly becoming numb to ambitions.

Balaji and Ahmed came together in a group at ‘Kanavu Pattarai’ – a 4-day residential camp that Nalandaway, an NGO, facilitates in association with the Government of Tamil Nadu and Dakshin Chithra – a south Indian heritage centre on Chennai’s East Coast Road.

On the fourth day of the camp, they were standing behind a table with a lot of painted charts, paper masks, balloons, colour papers and their fellow group mates, putting up a display of their learnings and creations accomplished at the camp. Adrenalin levels were soaring high in both their bodies. Their school mates had set up an art exhibition full of their own works and the public touring Dakshin Chithra were invited to drop by and have a look. This is where they met James.