Monday, August 06, 2012

Two Roomy Tales

These are two stories that are set in completely different lands and cultures.  What can Bhutan and Scotland have in common, I mused. These two stories prove that ‘goodness’ and ‘warmth’ feel the same across languages and cultures.

Room In Your Heart
Original Story by: Kunzang Choden
Illustrated by: Pema Tshering
Publisher: Young Zubaan Books

{Picture Courtesy: Young Zubaan}

On a quiet evening in the hills, an old lady with her grey cat, a yellow dog and a brown speckled hen are getting ready for dinner. As the dinner is simmering on the stove, a gentle voice calls, “Neypo Shong gna? (Is there room for me?)”  The guest, a gentle monk is honoured with the best place in her humble abode. Just when dinner is getting ready, there’s another voice at the door but the question is the same, “Neypo Shong gna?” The old lady shifts a few things around to find some room for her new guest to settle down. As she gets ready to serve dinner, there are more voices, the same request each time, “Neypo Shong gna?”

How the old lady finds room each time for her new guest in her little hut and how they joyfully share the dinner makes the rest of the story. This story drives home the point that it is not material comfort that make your guests feel welcome but kindness and a warm smile. As you read through the book, tender warmth envelops you and you believe in all the goodness in this world. You think of summer holidays at grandma’s when all cousins huddled together in one bed, how the house teemed with people, filled with laughter and radiated joy. It even reminded me of the random lady on a crowded train who ‘adjusted’ to make space for me. Like I said, it makes you believe that there’s so much goodness in the world still, if you care to see it.

The water colours are heartwarming reflections of the culture and lifestyle of Bhutan.  The simple lucid style portrays the mood of the story effectively

Always Room for One More

Written by: Sorche Nic Leodhas
Illustrated by: Nonny Hogrogian
Publisher:  Owlet Book

{Picture Courtesy:}
 Imagine Scottish music, Bagpipes, gaiety and laughter. Now imagine our hero Lachie MacLachlan as he stands outside his ‘wee house’ calling out to every passing traveler to spend the stormy night at his house. “There’s room galore …there’s room for one more” he calls merrily, despite the fact that the ‘wee house on the heather’ already houses a family of twelve. So there comes a tinker and then a tailor, a sailor and a whole lot many till the house is literally bursting at its seams.

There’s so much fun and frolic, dancing and singing, there’s so much din that the house can’t take it anymore. So Lachie MacLachlan, his wife and his bairns all tumble out together and gape at the place where once stood the ‘wee house’.  The rest of the story is about how the guests repay our big hearted Lachie and his family for their kindness.

This Scottish folktale has all the elements of a folktale – the rhyme, the reason, the message and a peek into the culture. The story exudes warmth and generosity through the rather merry style of narrative. Lachie, our hero is endearing  in his clownish and funny way.

The illustrations stand out. Soft water colour forms the background landscape while the elements of the story (people, animals, carts, house, etc) are drawn in simple pen and ink style.


Choxbox said...

Welcome to ST Uma.

Loved your picks, especially relevant to us today as we welcome a guest from half the world away.

And yet another roomy tale is the classic one by Julia Donaldson-Axel Scheffler - Room on the Broom!

Uma said...

Thanks Chox for the warm welcome :)

JD-AS books are favourites in our household too!

ranjani.sathish said...

A hearty welcome to ST, Uma :-). Beautiful review of two lovely books. Really enjoyed your review.

wordjunkie said...

Hi Uma, welcome to the Tree!
We discovered Kunzang Choden on a trip to Bhutan last year, and this book remains a big favourite at home.
Reminds me of another favourite from my childhood - this lovely short story called the 'Snow Party' by Beatrice de Regniers, about an old couple who take in a gazillion guests stranded in the snow.

Uma said...

Ranjani, Wordjunkie, Thanks for the warm welcome.

Wordjunkie, I looked up on Kunzang Choden after reading this book and am looking around for her novels. Admirable!

Sheela said...

Welcome to ST family, Uma. Lovely picks!

Praba Ram said...

Your writing is equally cozy and heart-warming. Such lovely picks, Uma!

Joining the others in welcoming you to our "tree-house". There's "lots of room" here too! :)

And First time seeing a Scottish folktale being reviewed on the tree. :)


sandhya said...

Welcome on board, Uma. Such lovely juxtapositioning of similar tales from different cultures. True, the room has to be in the heart, then there is plenty in the house.

Uma said...

Sheela, Praba, Sandhya - Thank you ladies :)
Being part of the 'tree-house' feels great indeed!

And I owe my thanks to Art as well :)

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