Friday, October 07, 2011

More on the Bhutanese Nepali Folktale Project

We have developed a routine, Terry and I. I drive into the car park at the bus terminal in Portsmouth, NH and she is waiting for me. I get into her car and we drive to Laconia for another visit to the Bhutanese community. Yesterday we went to see the artist Dal Rai.

Last month Terry came here and we planned the layout of the 32-page picture book. We broke the text into pages and then decided what scenes should be illustrated and how the text and picture pages should be arranged. Fitting it all into 32 pages is not easy. In addition to the story itself, we have introductory and explanatory material which we feel needs to be part of the book. And arranging the story pages so that the illustrations are opposite the appropriate text pages makes it even harder. We eventually laid out 32 index cards on the table, cut the printed text pages into the desired page lengths, and assembled and reassembled until we came up with a workable model.

Yesterday we went to visit Dal to discuss the illustrations. We had chosen scenes that we felt would highlight the action of the story and tell about life in Bhutan through details in the paintings—the oxen and the plow in the field of the farm, the utensils and dishes in the kitchen, the traditional dress at a wedding ceremony.

In addition to Dal, we were accompanied by Hari the storyteller and Dal's wife, Birkha. Terry got some new insight into the details of the story that will help her with the writing. We learned that millet would be growing in the field, that cooked lentils are mashed by twirling a pirke,

and about the ghumpta which the bride would wear on her head at the wedding.

I am so thankful to Terry Farish for including me in the project, the NH Humanities Council for funding it, and the generosity and patience of Dal and Hari and their family and friends who welcome us into their homes, guide us through the process, and share delicious food. The Story of a Pumpkin moves forward.

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