the tall tails of tomorrow
Folktales and Fables Many a tale that travels through generations and shares the wisdom of simple everyday things roots itself in nature. We,the human spectators,easily relate sentiments and traits that we identify in ourselves to animals and
elements in nature.
metaphors are old and
undisputed over time and across cultures:
the cunning monkey,the clever jackal, the guardian serpent and the tenacious ant have taught us
lessons that we still encounter daily. in our early years
revere the animals that are specific to their culture, such as the
Moreover, certain folktales
Indian washer men and their donkeys and the palm reader and his parrot.
This book explores the changing relationship between the people of
Devanahalli, a peri-urban area near Bangalore, and its animals. My conversations with the residents across various age groups of an old lane in Devanahalli Fort focused on growing up with
animals and animal stories. We discussed how the
ecology and new economic practices in Devanahalli can affect the future
of these tales and their subjects.
For the urban child, access to the animal kingdom is mostly virtual.
the zoo or a sanctuary, an aquarium or keeping a pet becomes their means An occasional visit to
of physical encounter with animals.
In the future, their reference to most animals living undisturbed in their natural habitat will be through
representations in popular media.
Will animals be perceived as an almost fictional element in these tales? Or will they be perceived as inhabitants of pens and encroachers of city streets?
“The bulls looked on as the
cows enjoyed a royal treatment.Not one was
so much as smacked..” -The Bull’s Appeal Tamil Folktale
Sunita and I had a conversation at her fatherPapanna’s tailoring store where she helps him
when she is not studying Humanities in the Government College at Devanahalli.
I’ve grown up aound many animals.
cows rabbits dogs
Don’t they fight amongst themselves
No, never. Monkeys visit my house too and I feel that this particularly obedient fellow understands what we say to him.
How do you feed
animals? My sister would take the cows to the pastures twice a day.
fewer farms the grasslands available are too far.
But now there are
My sisterâ€™s growing older and now we
donâ€™t have the time.
Itâ€™s become a huge task. But where did the
...but the cows still need to eat. So what is the
Now we get the grass
home for the cattle. We stock up hay for the entire year for them to graze on. Itâ€™s a one time effort which saves us
time and trouble.
a vegetable vendor down this lane speaks of how she had witnessed
more cattle around Devanahalli when she was younger.
She sold her cows as her sons were now running a business and her daughter had moved to Bangalore after her marriage.
Cattle havenâ€™t disappeared altogether, we see stray cows on city streets holding up the traffic or reared in slums, fed on garbage. However, take-away grass is a luxury reserved for the cows of Devanahalli and those serving in slaughterhouses or dairy farms..
â€œ..and having tricked the poor villagers, the
monkey beat his
tom-tom most triumphantly as he ascended the treeâ€? -The Monkey and His Tom-Tom Kannada Folktale
Rachana and I study in
the 8th grade in an
English medium school in Devanahalli.
The house I live in is ancient, almost 150 years old! We used to own farmland where the airport stands today, but we sold it at a great price, like many others. Have you seen the monkeys around here? There are so many of them, but Iâ€™m scared of most animals.
Animal stories? I don’t remember any...
My grandmother heard folktales about crows in Vijayapura. She tells me stories about the fort, Tipu Sultan and the Venugopal family who built the temples in this lane. This is my cousin Rakshita. She’s . And a little shy.
Play with animals? No, I’m scared of the monkeys!
Where do monkeys live you ask?
Monkeys live on temple tops. The ones here live in the Veugopal temple where it’s cool in the summer.
The monkeys steal vegetables from Vijaylakshmi Ammaâ€™s shop but she says that the Government captured them and sent them to the forest.
Mr. Ganesh Chaudhury has grilled the windows and balconies of his house because the monkeys steal bags from the neighbourhood.
He says they come here because the trees are being cut and
theyâ€™re shooed away from the fruit orchards they would feed on.
What about your food source? Don’t the farms that are being sold grow food for Devanahalli? Where will you get vegetables and grains from? Mr. Ganesh says it’ll come from the market. That’s where food comes from.
I really want a library and a computer centre in Devanahalli.
I want more books on Science, that’s what I enjoy reading.
And yes, Harry Potter!
killed himself While uttering his voice; Though he was holding tight to the stick, By a word he slew himself â€?
-The Talkative Tortoise The Jataka Tales
Shweta and Tabrez
are the youth of Devanahalli who grew up there, completed their education in the
travel to Bangalore city daily
local schools and now
to study and work.
In their free time they run their family stores. Discussions with the revealed their awareness and concern for the farmers. They spoke about a slow extinction of the animals and stories they grew up with.
Like all kids in Devanahalli, Shweta grew up listening to tales about Tipu Sultan, the building of the Fort and the
Being an animal lover she grew up playing with cattle,
rabbits and dogs.
And tortoises at her neighboursâ€™ who brought them home from
the lake on his farm.
But now there are almost no lakes.. ore t m ort no ois es
Tabrez read few animal stories as a child, he loved stories of adventure. But he has invaluable stories to share about
the disappearing animals. Farms near Devanahalli were visited by wild boar. Weâ€™d hear tales about cheetahs that came to drink from
the lakes near Nandi Hills. There used to be so many
fruit laden trees visited by birds. So many birds were killed by the telecom towers.
Shweta has heard a rumour that
the homes and stores in their lane will be demolished as the Fort
has been recognized as a tourist spot and needs to be
spruced up, but there is
no official notification yet.
The habitat of many species is lost to
peri-urban human settlements.
queue up outside aquariums in the city and bird cages in Russell Market, to bring But children can still
a turtle and a parakeet to their multi storeyed homes. .
A cage within a cage.
. The irreversible truth remains that
the slaying of the tortoise is no longer his own doing.
“Lord Shiva cut the
odd animal’s fifth leg
And put it on its back in the shape of a hump. And then he said ‘utth!’ (get up) Hence the name of came to be Untth.”
-The Creation of The Camel Rajasthani Folktale.
and his friends from the Pali district in Rajasthan are recent Marwari migrants to Devanahalli. They have very interesting stories to tell:
ajasthan we ha R n i k ve c a B
and thatâ€™s not all.....
grew up aroun o s l a e d W
foxes the black buck
and the peacock it’s The National Bird.
People presume that Rajasthan is a barren desert, but we grow millets and legumes
His pride is apparent. But doesn’t he miss living around animals?
Sorely! All we see here is monkeys!
And rats. We can’t even keep a cat like we did in Rajasthan.
live in a rented house
in Devanahalli, the landlords might object.
Pavaramâ€™s brother, sister-in-law and nephews live in Yelahanka. What stories are the children growing up with, those of Rajasthan or Karnataka? Have they seen the camels, the black buck and the peacocks?
We visit Rajasthan once a year, the older child has seen camels but he remembers very little of them.
My sister-in-law tells them folktales from Rajasthan and stories about Jodhpur but they mostly watch T.V. or play. Theyâ€™re learning to speak in
The black buck is one of the fastest disappearing animals in India.
Living in Yelahanka, it may be difficult for Pavaramâ€™s nephews to grow up around animals. But peacock feather fans adorn the Cauvery toy store and camels still draw carts on the streets of Bangalore. They will see the animals that their uncle speaks of with great pride and fondness in enslavement and
in an urban habitat.
The tales of tomorrow Story-telling has undergone many changes. Animal tales and folktales are hardly ever delivered verbally to curious ears.
graphic novels, animated films or textual accounts It is the narrative of
that carry forth this invaluable part of our culture and wisdom with
a necessity of visual aid.
Folktales have already begun to
adapt to our generationâ€™s understanding of the world. In a Kannada folktale publication as early as 1985, we read:
with reference to a story written centuries ago. It is only natural for a story to use a monetary measure that we understand. Similar elements such as palaces, kings, the barter system and soup gardens have become almost mythical.
With growing urbanization, our perception of animals and their habitats today is very different
from that described in our folklore. While some animals have strayed onto our streets and our homes, others have strayed far enough to beonly seen through their virtual representations. A change in our interactions and perception of animals may soon reflect in the way our stories change.
The stories in Devanahalli
surely have,from that of lakes and orchards to multi-storeys and telecom towers.
But change can also be for the better. The greedy slyness of youth gives way
to lessons of preservation...
...as the wise old monkey with the tom-tom, who has learnt his lesson well,will tell us.
Aknowledgement This project was possible because of the warmth and the willingness of the people of Devanahalli to share their stories and their time. Iâ€™m very grateful to everyone mentioned in this book as well as many others at Devanahalli who helped me in my research. The valuable critique of the classmates and facilitators: Alison Byrnes, Robin King, Vinay Sreenivasan and Tejas Pande helped me develop my ideas and process for this project. My fellow researchers, Rayika, Priyanka and Abhishek made it much easier for me to explore Devanahalli and become familiar with its facts and faces. Thank you.
References: Best Loved Folk Tales of India edited by P.C. Roy Chaudhury Folktales from Tamil Nadu compiled by ki. Rajanarayanan www.digitalbookindex.com published by Thomas R. Franklin www.wiki.encyclopediaindica.com article published by Lalitha Ramadurai www.ait.net Agency for Instructional Technology
Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology 3rd March, 2010