Story Continuation Challenge Prompt 2

To all those who participated to the Story Continuation Challenge last week : Thank you for taking up the challenge. I was overwhelmed to see the response. Your replies were not just hugely motivat…

Source: Story Continuation Challenge Prompt 2

Story Continuation Challenge Prompt 2

How to Tell A Story –  It’s all in the Detail

Version 1:

They were driving through the jungle hoping to get to Bangalore in 5 hours.

The curves were dangerous.

And then suddenly the driver braked sharply. There stood a huge Elephant.

There was no time to react so they continued driving past.

They were scared out of their wits. They didn’t stop for the next few km.s

Audience reaction: “Really?” “Yah, there are elephants on that road. “ “Whats the road like – last time it was full of potholes”

Version 2:

They were driving through the jungle hoping to get to Bangalore in 5 hours.

The night was dark. The curves were dangerous.

And then suddenly the driver braked sharply. Everyone was thrown forward. There in all his majesty stood a huge Elephant.

The driver sat frozen next to him. He had to save his family.

The driver took off like a bat out of hell.

They got to Bangalore .

Audience reaction: “Wow!” “Glad everyone’s safe.” “How long did the whole drive take?”


Version 3:

They were driving through the jungle hoping to get to Bangalore in 5 hours.

The night was dark. The moon was covered by thick clouds. The headlights lit up only a few metres on the narrow winding road.  The curves were dangerous.

And then suddenly the driver braked sharply. Everyone was thrown forward. There in all his majesty stood a huge Elephant. His tusks glowing in the headlights. He stood tall, threatening, glowering down at the car. He was obviously a rogue elephant. The telltale dark lines running down the sides of his face showing he was in must.

He raised a foot and dropped it – hard- the tarmac cracked. The earth shook. The tiger stalking his prey, froze. And then he raised his trunk and trumpeted loud and long. The monkeys in the trees woke chattering loudly and the birds drew their heads out of from under their wings and rustled in the branches above.

The children in the car stared horrified, snivelling and howling. The women wailing, praying for all their worth. The driver sat frozen next to him. Our hero was the only one who was thinking…. his mind racing to finds a way out of this death trap. He had to save his family.

He shook the driver, until he aroused him from his paralysis. He needed the driver to help. He looked into his eyes and said in a cool, steady voice “ Just listen to what I say. You have to pay attention.” The driver calmed by his confident voice, said “Yes sir, I trust you”. He told him that he would give him a signal at which the driver was to step on the pedal and drive straight past the animal and wait half a  km. down the road. Keep the motor running.

He jumped out of the car slammed the door and shouted “Go”. The driver took off like a bat out of hell.

He was now standing facing the rogue Tusker. It’s must-ridden state caused it’s eyes to glow in the dark. He stripped of his red shirt and waved it in front of the animal – just in case it decided to chase the car. He wasn’t sure whether it would react like a bull, but it worked! With a loud squeal the huge mammoth raced towards him like a tank, the earth quaking. He had to time this perfectly. A second too early and he’d be plucked into the air like a blade of grass and smashed to the ground. A second too late and they wouldn’t be able to scrape him off the ground after being trampled.

He raised the shirt above his ahead, twirled it around and judging the right moment let it fly. Perfect! It landed squarely across it’s eyes and blinded the animal. It ploughed forward while he jumped aside out of the way of the Juggernaut intent on struggling to get the flapping shirt of it’s face.

He ran to the car and jumped in and the driver sped away. “Good man, this Driver “ he thought. “Must give him a good reference”

Audience reaction: GobSmacked.

(A South Indian producer bought the story rights and the film is to star a well know actor. The film is to be named “Elephants Cant Jump, But RajniCan”

How to Tell A Story –  It’s all in the Detail

Who Moved Our Cheese Part 2

Our cheese had been moved. And we went to Khetwadi to find it.

  It was a beautiful heritage building.  Suddenly, we had too much space.  There were so few of us. We had 3 laaaarge rooms. Barely any furniture. Or computers.


Walking to the station knowing you were close to the red light area made some of the men uncomfortable!   The Ground and First floors were vacant so it felt spooky walking into this old, empty building. Some even claimed they saw an old bawaji ghost in the evening! Not enough restaurants around.  The streets were really crowded and noisy and one had to dodge hand carts.  And trucks.  And cows. And rushing pattiwallas.


One couldn’t take a break and stroll around outside. It was always an obstacle race. 

But, we started settling in. We were lucky to have someone donate chairs, conference tables, and other stuff. Til we got enough furniture, we had plenty of mats on the floor. 


We built some furniture (whenever our eccentric carpenter Chottubhai  turned up) and/or  we got more donations….. Cupboards, a fridge. Whenever a wellwisher moved house or died we’d get stuff.  Beds we turned into diwans and coffee tables were low storage  and cutlery and large serving dishes came in handy when hosting large meetings or workshops.

After a few years; the municipality agreed to give us one more room and the huge hall that was on the floor. That was a relief because, apart from extra space, it was used as storage for the old school’s science lab stuff and the skeleton hanging there facing us that could be seen through the windows made some people uncomfortable in the evenings. So we cleared everything out and had a beautiful hall for ourselves. We’ve hosted large numbers, sometimes over 40 students and their professors, and had many other events and participants attending workshops and exchange programmes in our hall. 


We soon grew used to the change in commuting arrangements.  We started appreciating the old buildings around. 


 Other NGOs moved in and it was always fun with the little children running all over the place when we came in or left . But the quiet was nice too when they took an afternoon nap.


We got used to the flooding in the monsoon.  Water dripping from the ceiling in the rains And  the baking heat in the summer.  And the overpowering smell of coffee (yes. There is something like too much of a good thing).  We enjoyed having a terrace where we could fly kites during Sankrant.


And having the whole floor to ourselves, space was never a problem. We even used the staircases for smoking areas and  setup a small office in the stairwell!


Over the years we’ve collected a lot of clutter.  Having so much space meant we never had to throw anything away, “Keep it just in case. ….”!

And our staff has grown too.    The original staff who caee here from Fountain are now senior staff and head their own teams of 3 to 4 people each. We have a “Program and Documentation Team.”  And between SPARC And Nirman  we now have approxnately 25 full time staff at Khetwadi.


And now the time has come to clear out. 
When we were first told we had to vacate. We didn’t really believe it. It didn’t seem possible ….. Where could we go.?
We started contacting brokers and checking out new places. But deep down we kept hoping that maybe we could convince them to let us stay.  But finally we got word. ….

We had to vacate.

Our cheese had been moved. Again.

Missed  Part 1? Click here

Who Moved Our Cheese Part 2

Who Moved Our Cheese Part 1

Moving to Khetwadi. 
Some years ago I read a book that  I still think about occasionally.  Who Moved My Cheese.  About  2 mice. One morning they woke up and found their stockpile of cheese had been moved and they had to decide whether to hang around waiting for more cheese to appear or go off in search of some cheese .  Basically they learned to adapt to different circumstances and survive, while the 2 humans with them sat about moaning about And querying who moved their cheese and waiting for the old status quo to return.

I’ve been thinking about this recently. A long time ago, we at Sparc had to move out of a tiny little room in an old building in the Fountain area.


So cramped we sometimes had to ask people to get up so we could climb over their chair to get to our seat!   We started working in shifts …. some would come really early in the morning and leave early and some would arrive later and stay late. but there’d still be a few hours where we’d all be there together. And have to “adjust” (as they say in the local trains).  Sheela, Murthy, Sutapa, Mohammed, Sunita, Mahendra,Medha, only 7 full timers but they could barely manage. Occassionally Celine,Panchali,Indu and I would add to the numbers and we’d all squash  in. Our office room itself was actually just a section of a larger  dark and dingy room with ceilings over 20 ft high and we were separated from the other offices  by a wooden partition 7ft high.  There was a guy  next door who could really yell his  head off and we’d all have to stop work and listen to his ranting till he felt that he had made his point.  No privacy at all ….we knew what they were eating for lunch…. we could smell, we know what they thougt of it  because we could hear,  and we knew how well it was being digested.. we could  hear that too.   We were on the 4th floor which in those old buildings in Fountain felt like 7. And i was there as a volunteer 3 to 4 times a week for 5 years the lift worked intermittently, I probably  got to use it  less than 4 or 5 times . Now I realise what kept me in shape.
 But it was a real convenient location …all 3 rail commuters were happy. .. central, western and harbour. So many eating places we were spoiled for choice. And there was a shop that had great snacks in the next building so I could stock up on munchies on my way up. ..I needed sustenance after that 7 floor hike.
 And  then we were told to vacate.
 An NGO with few resources has very limited choices.  Fortunately the municipality was merging 2 schools in Khetwadi and decided to lease some rooms in the vacant school to NGOs. More importantly, at a very reasonable rent.  Oh dear. .. one had heard of Khetwadi, but  exactly where was it? Somewhere in the red light area or near the Gol deval temple.  Where were the closest stations? Can’t we find something in Fountain? It’s so convenient. But we had no choice. 
Our cheese had been moved .
And 18 years ago we moved here


Marathi Municipal School, 1st. Khetwadi Lane

Who Moved Our Cheese Part 1