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Arvind Gaur’s storytelling sessions hold children in their spell

His infectious grin endears him to children. Watching Arvind Gaur tell stories is like watching a performance. His narration of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s Jalebis at a recent storytelling session(Katha) for visually impaired children in Delhi was so gripping, you could almost feel the aftertaste of jalebis in your mouth.

For Gaur storytelling is a passion. “It’s difficult to control the enthusiasm of children. You have a lot to learn from them,” says Gaur, over coffee at the Shri Ram Centre cafeteria.

Delhiites also know Gaur as a theatre artist. His theatre group ASMITA tackles issues like communal violence and child abuse. With 48 plays to his credit, Gaur has students looking up to him. As a guru, he tell them to observe, learn and react and not just simply act. “Acting is primarily reacting. It’s also about self-exploration. If you fear, you can’t act,” says Gaur.

It’s his performing skills that make Gaur an exceptional storyteller. But isn’t storytelling a dying art? “It is but it plays such an important role in enhancing your reading habit.”

It’s hard to believe that an articulate storyteller like Gaur had a speech deficiency as a child. Not surprisingly he appreciates Taare Zammen Par for exploring the subject of dyslexia. “Today’s teachers only highlight your weakness and stress on being on top. Children depend more on teachers than books. My parents and not teachers helped me iron out my speech defects,” he says.

His storytelling sessions have had a positive impact on the children. “Never treat a child as one. If they think they are being taught, that takes their joy out of it. In fact all children are alike. We bring differences in them,” he says.Arvind Gaur holds regular theatre workshops for slum and street children and factory labourers.

Staging Narratives Neelima Menon,Indian Express

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Entertaining Special Kids With Stories On Books Day Wednesday 02nd of April 2008

They listened intently, savouring each detail as the story teller read out one story after another. For the visually impaired children who attended a story telling session Wednesday on the International Children's Books Day, it was a day full of fun and laughter.

Organised by publishing house Katha, the event saw 20 children from the National Blind School and the Tagore International School being entertained by Indian theatre personality Arvind Gaur.

'I loved the stories,' said 12-year-old Ruksar Amin, a student of the National Blind School who attended the session at the Katha premises in Sarvodaya Enclave in south Delhi.

International Children's Books Day is celebrated April 2 to mark renowned children's writer Hans Christian Anderson's birthday.

'I especially liked the story 'Jalebis' . I have never seen a jalebi but I love the taste. At the end of the story, I wanted to eat a jalebi,' Ruksar smiled.

Written by Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and narrated by Arvind Gaur 'Jalebis' was a huge hit among the kids. A story of temptation and the idea of bargaining with god, it was narrated and then its characters discussed in detail with the children.

'Ma Ganga and the Razai Box', another story which focussed on the pollution in the river Ganga, gave way to a small discussion on environment.

'I hope someday I can do something to clean the water of the Ganga,' 14-year-old Pradeep said.

Commenting on the enthusiasm of the kids,Arvind Gaur said that more such story telling sessions, especially for visually impaired children, should be organised by schools and other organisations.

'We should have more such reading sessions and publishers should concentrate on Braille books that have good stories,' Arvind Gaur said.

The stories were narrated both in English and Hindi.

Besides this, volunteers of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), an organisation that works on issues of literacy, read out the story 'Bobak Bakra' and sang songs

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