I met Priya Somani over coffee a couple of weeks ago and happened to mention how excited I am for Christmas this year. Priya is as big a fan of little children as I am, she’s also a licensed storyteller and a good friend of mine. I mentioned that I wanted to do a Gingerbread Man story-telling session for my niece and nephew. I have been following Priya online for a while and I was really curious about what a storytelling session is and how kids react to it. I also wanted to be a part of the experience. Over the course of our conversation the idea for a collaboration took shape. She was very open to the idea and we both got excited about it.
Next, we made a pros and cons list and indulged in some serious decision-making- booking the venue, devising a game plan for handling babies, deciding the day and date, etc. The time spent in planning and later executing the event felt like a journey in itself.
After the details were finalized, this is what we put out :-
Finally the day comes and we’re all prepared. I even got one of my light-men to dress up like a Santa- his bell was from my temple. I decorated the space with my Diwali lights, we were on a budget. It wasn’t about making profits, but wanting to give more, wanting the children to have a good time and getting them excited about Christmas.
We started off with a photo session, a crafting and painting a Christmas card session, followed by story telling, games, mannequin challenge, trains, and more. We planned the activities such that the kids were always occupied and stimulated, and were encouraged to mingle and make friends. This was also a great way for me to observe them and understand their behaviours and psyche. I met 24 different kinds of children there- ones who were enthusiastic and hyper, others who were passive and quiet. It was amazing to be around all these different types of kids and learn through observation. It’s the kind of opportunity I don’t get while on an individual photo session. This day was a lot more enriching and satisfying for me.
This was the first time I conducted an event like this so there were bound to be a few glitches although, ultimately the show went well. For example, one or two kids started crying in the middle of a session and for a moment, I didn’t know what to do. I wondered ‘Is this normal?’ ‘Are they missing their mothers?’ ‘Are they getting bored?’ There were a lot of questions running through my mind but I realized it was just normal kid behavior. I made them talk to their mothers and they calmed down. Another hurdle was trying to make them look towards the camera and smiling; they were so distracted by everything that was happening all around. To make them smile I was making animal sounds and even dancing! It was a task but I got all the photo shots that I wanted.
All in all, it was a remarkable day for us. Priya was fabulous, I had never worked with her before and I realized how comfortable it was to be working with a friend. With this success behind us, we are now looking forward to another session early next year.
Here are some highlights of the day