| At the Sasha folk music workshop. Picture by Amit Datta
It was fun time for the tots, and they did it all with elan — making clay pots, tuning folk instruments and even listening to fairy tales on a rainy Saturday evening. During the children’s fun week at Sasha, on Mirza Ghalib Street, from August 20 to 26, a range of activities was lined up to keep the kids busy. And with a little help from the stars, they had fun while they learnt at work.
The crafts week was inaugurated by theatre personality Usha Ganguly, on August 20, with an exhibition of children’s products, like toys made of eco-friendly cloth and wood. But the real fun began on August 22. It was time to get down and dirty during the pottery-making evening, with artist Suvaprasanna at hand to give them tips. The youngest participant was three years old, and the oldest about 12. While the older ones let the juniors hog the limelight, the toddlers seemed in their elements, creating chaos with clay-coated hands. Be it the spinning the potters’ wheel, moulding bent pots with inexperienced fingers, or making shapeless shapes with dry clay and chubby hands.
Shouts of “I want to do it now” were accompanied by elbows shoving the competition out of the way, in the war for the wheel. Eventually everyone had a go but not all were successful. “It broke,” was the lament from most. Like nine-year-old Veeraj from St James School, whose pot disintegrated halfway though the exercise.
Three-year-old Ashish, who had come to the workshop with a classmate from La Martiniere for Boys, however, didn’t care for the wheel. He was busy creating something out of dry clay to take home. He didn’t know what the end result was, but Ashish said he would “give it to mummy”.
But Simran, 3, was indefatigable, as she ran around trying everything once. And when Suvaprasanna dropped in, she promptly snapped the head off the duck he had moulded, and was first in line asking him “Mere ko bhi bana do (make it for me too)”. The artist smiled and obliged.
On August 23, it was time for some story-telling by the group Storytellers. The non-appearance of writer Amitava Ghosh and actor Arjun Chakraborty didn’t do anything to dampen the youngsters’ spirits, as they listened in rapt attention to the tales of Snow White and Cinderella, and one contemporary story by an Indian author.
Down on the dance floor was where the action was on August 26, with the kids amusing everyone with their antics. It was a folk music evening, with baul singers, Bangla band Cactus, tabla player Tanmoy Bose, drummer Nondon Bagchi from the band Hip Pocket and actress June Maliah. Also in attendance were folk instrument-makers from rural Bengal, giving demonstrations to the children on the making and working of the instruments.
While one kid complained that they weren’t allowed to actually make one, most seemed to have a special affinity for the drums, gravitating towards those lying around and grabbing them for a quick trial. Although most were fascinated by the rapid movement and the rhythm of the performers, four-year-old Viveka snatched a miniature bongo off a table, placed the twin drums on her lap and proceeded to compose her own rhythm, proclaiming: “I only like the drums.”
Tired, perhaps, but satisfied was the way the kids went home at the end of a hard day’s work and having learnt a new lesson in creativity. Or maybe, the sparkle in their eyes was because they had learnt new ways of keeping busy, by being noisy and messy.