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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The seven-minute tale spinners

Once every month,Katha Cues invites people to tell stories about their lives and adventures — in 7 minutes

Written by Shikha Sharma | New Delhi |
July 7, 2013 1:11:55 am

There’s something magical about a good story — it helps us escape from the reality of everyday life to something fantastical. It connects,binds,defines and,in some ways,even shapes our world.

We all love a good tale,and it was this allure of creating a space exclusively for stories that led Tarun Durga to form Katha Cues,a community for people to listen to and tell stories,in Mumbai last year. The concept struck a chord with Satyajit Gupta,a corporate lawyer from Delhi,and he set up KC’s Delhi chapter in February this year.

“The story of a city is the stories of its people. We wanted to bring that story out,get to know the pulse of a city,” says Durga,who got fascinated by the idea while studying storytelling as an art form in London.

“KC would make a great place for people to just sit and get to know each other in the old-fashioned way,” Satyajit Gupta says.

The concept is loosely based on an event that happens in New York called ‘The Moth’ where ordinary people share stories of their lives and adventures. That happens to be KC’s premise too — real life stories,but within 7 minutes.

The group meets once every month,usually over the weekend at The Lodhi restaurant. The event is coordinated online through Facebook and other social media platforms by Gupta in Delhi,and details of the event are intimated about two weeks in advance. The event is entirely free,and anyone can register for the event or even walk into a session.

Every session has a theme or a cue,which serves as a trigger to base stories on. It may be something open-ended and fun (like Who do you think you are/scary but true!),something eccentric (The best I’ve ever had) or introspective (If I could do it again) or even something that’s downright whimsical (It happened to a friend of a friend).

“The idea is to pick something that encourages people to not only have fun but also question their lives,and introspect,” Durga says.

There are four simple rules everyone has to follow — stories must be real,they must have a context so everyone can enjoy them,should be told within seven minutes and should use the cue or theme phrase at least once.

For the first Delhi event,15 people turned up for the cue “If I could do it again.” They ranged from families and playwrights to young professionals and foreigners visiting the Capital for a short trip. Gupta recalls a particularly amusing tale of a participant who drove all night to visit Ramgarh in Uttar Pradesh,but ended up reaching Ramgarh in Madhya Pradesh instead. “If she could do it again,she said she’d pay more attention to the road the next time,” he says.

So what kind of stories do people tell? “It would be hard to categorise stories into types. Everyone has their own tale. Some are crazy,some fun,some introspective and some downright heartbreaking. But it doesn’t make a difference. The idea is to give people a non-judgmental platform to tell that story,” says Durga.

The absence of an agenda is also probably what attracts a many to the community. “I love the fact that I can go to an event and just share things. There’s no agenda. It is an offbeat kind of interaction,but one that connects me more to the city and its people,” says Shrikant,who attended a session recently.

For playwright V K Sharma,it was the appeal of getting to meet new people,besides sharing his writing that took him to the event. “You can watch a movie or read a book,but nothing matches the experience of listening to a real-life story first-hand,” he says.

For the last cue,‘Mentor Tormentor’,20 people attended the event,where a few even expressed their tales through music.

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