What is your favourite poem and dinner story?

I read this post on Richard Branson’s blog that inspired my post and its title. Discovering Sarah Kay was also very amazing. Especially this poem that she narrates because a friend of mine is going to be a mom to a baby girl soon, and the moment I was reading this, I wanted to share this with her (and the couple others in my friend circle who will also be moms to girls soon). Though, I have to admit, this works pretty well, even for boys ;-).

Sometimes I do feel stories are underrated and suffer set-backs (of not being shared) because we often think they are not ‘interesting’ enough. Recently we were talking through whether only sad stories get leverage and are seen as ‘art’. I think stories of all types are important, and worth sharing. They may not work with everyone, but they have the power to create and rekindle connections. Ever story has its reader. And maybe the purpose of story-sharing really is to find that cosmic connect, more so now with these multiple sharing platforms. We don’t want to feel we are the only ones experiencing these feelings. 

I strongly favour storytelling- even during dull sessions of power points on the Euro crisis. Sure all of them don’t have the graphs that we expect out of a great novella. Some don’t even have distinct beginnings, meaty middles and feisty endings. Some are still in process. And yet, each one is unique because the way we process and perceive them is not the same. And we can thus potentially learn something out of these stories. Storytelling is not a new concept- we’ve all had grandmothers and mothers connecting dots and feeding us. 

Yet, when someone at work tells me how he doesn’t need the story but the ‘raw’ data from the spread sheet- it shocks me a little. Not the fact that I feel data and numbers are any less important, but just the prioritisation order. I am in fact very pro spread sheets- like my father. I use them as decision enhancing tools regularly. I like the data objectivity. I like that I can visualise. However, there’s a level above all the data. It’s all too easy to get loads of data and numbers in a very over-measured space we put our lives in, and it’s far more difficult to find connections that make us feel something. A fifty percent drop in the value of the rupee will always make me take notice, but years later I am more likely to remember stories about pinching sea urchins (they could have been fish) in the Adriatic. 
I find it difficult to believe this isn’t true of most people. After all, is this guy with the spread sheet going to remember the data points or his beer story on Friday? Maybe this distinction between ‘fun’ and ‘work’ shouldn’t be so stark. Wouldn’t it be so nice if this data person was also more interested in the stories the data told- wouldn’t he automatically be a more valued employee? And if food and beer make him spin more stories (and joy!) shouldn’t he be spending time doing more of those things instead? And, I am not being idealistic- it is possible to leave fanciness for something you truly like. You give up things in the short term, but I believe you give yourself an opportunity to create a lot more interesting and fun stories (and work!).
This friend of mine, with the baby girl (coming soon) is a story collector. She can create stories out of anywhere. And make people share, like it was most natural. She inspires me. Her little girl may already know how lucky she is.
Perhaps from the childhood, the Brook (Tennyson) or the Highwayman (Noyes) are my favourite poems. Maggie (Mill on the Floss) is my favourite (tragic) story. And yet the story of a girl in the red dress torturing the amazing looking fish in a fancy looking restaurant in an attempt to clear off the bones in presence of a boy with artistic fish-eating capabilities- is the one story that I relate to the most. I knew I wasn’t the only one with the fish bones fear. Besides she wasn’t embarrassed. And that’s a happy start. To a fishy dinner story.
What are your favourite poems and dinner stories?
  1. ha! give her a break, she’s 25- guess not as profound as you’d like her to be 😉 I liked the concept though. Also- interesting more- if you are going to be mom 🙂

    Jhumpa Lahiri recently recounted her fav book- I need to find that out for you!

  2. fairly certain i dont find the speaker interesting at all 🙂 Perhaps you need hear Walt Whitman and his Pioneers!O Pioneers! or TS Elliot’s The Hollowmen. If you need further convincing how tragedies make for better stories, Try Jhumpa Lahiri’s Temporary Matter. It documents one of the most fascinating Dinner stories that I wish I never ever have to live through.

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