Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back to New Delhi a day early....

I exhausted myself (7 workshops, seminars and talks for the girls and the faculty in two days) and am sick with what feels like a typical cold/flu with a severe sore throat. So it's back to New Delhi to recuperate, then see more sights and return to the Rai School for Girls next week to finish my work and celebrate an anniversary with them.
I'll also be meeting with a filmmaker who wants to do a documentary about this unique and marvelous place.
Yesterday I showed my comedy feature The Whole Truth - my host insisted the girls see it, even though many don't speak English well and I wasn't sure if it would translate, since it's a satire on the American judicial system. He thought just seeing my film, which is well made with some fine acting, would be an additional inspiration for them.
Well, they got *all* the sight gags! There's a lot of physical comedy in it; they laughed at every one of them. And even if they were being polite, they still applauded enthusiastically at the end - twice. Once at the end of the film, again at the end of the credits.
They have a mass communications department here - journalism for TV, newspapers and radio. Being a former journalist (wait - a journalist is an unemployed reporter, so I guess I am *still* a journalist!), I was asked about the difference between India and US journalism.
I told them I find that India has far more international news than the US; that Americans by and large are not informed or informed accurately about other nations and all too often that leaves them more ignorant of the world at large. The reason for this is because US news departments believe that Americans are not really interested in "foreign" news and that they go for ratings and sales first, which influences their decisions.
It may not even be the truth - that is, if they were exposed to actual news from other nations they might well be interested and ratings/sales would increase, but it is assumed they're not because the stories they present from other nations don't seem to boost ratings or sales.
My belief is that it's the type of news they present, not the actual news of the nations themselves.
Practically all other nations know about the US and present US news. However, that door does not swing both ways - and the loser is the American public, as well as American media who could increase interest in their media if they reported the actual news from other nations.
Also, there are no "hate talk" radio stations in India with ultra strong political biases.
Censorship is an issue of their *own* news in China, Tibet and other governments who uber-control their people. And often that is accompanied by biased accounts of news from other nations.
Censorship happens in the US by the omission of valuable news in favor of gossip, celebrity stories and the like based on the belief that there's no interest in "real" news, even if that means we leave the public poorly informed.
A democracy (or democratic republic) relies on well informed citizens, but when money precedes the best interest of the nation, unwitting censorship and bias prevail.
On a separate note, much as this is a nation heading toward superpower status (I think any nation with nuclear arms already has "super powers"), there are interruptions of water service, electricity, wifi connections, no hot water on tap in many locations (at the school we are brought one or two buckets of warm water with which to bathe or shower), and no sitting toilets in numerous locations. They have squat toilets, which is basically a hole in the ground (they are also used in Europe, Asia and other nations). My aim is getting better.
Thus far at the school I've discussed: my problem-solving book The 100% Solution, showed them how to put together a personal business plan (as opposed to a business-business plan), which was not only the key to all the girls opening up - declaring their life purpose - but also a perfect addition to their academic business classes. One of the business faculty members told me she had never heard of such a thing and how valuable she sees it can be; she's adding it to her curriculum.
I chatted with faculty about their work and goals; I started the story telling process with the girls, about a little girl who started with nothing and ended up happier than she ever dreamed. We'll finish that next week, preparing to record it with sound effects and music.
I showed The Whole Truth and discussed all aspects of filmmaking.
I chatted with a large group of girls who want to become writers - I explained everything from novel writing to journalism to TV writing to screenwriting to essays, short stories, romantic stories, poetry and more. I'm meeting with writers again when I return next week.
Because there are so many girls from such a variety of nations, just about everyone has a different accent - when I'm rested, I can follow easily. When I'm not, it's difficult to translate quickly, and some of the girls who speak English well help me out.
But for now? Time to get some R&R so I can get cracking on some sight seeing and more time at the Rai Foundation School for Girls.
Shortly after returning to our hotel in New Delhi, eight monkeys frolicked underneath my window!
I love this place!

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  • At 6:17 AM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Oh My! What an adventure--and you are changing lives. Please rest up and heal your body and voice. There is more you have to do before you return home!

  • At 7:44 AM, Blogger cathy said…

    Dearest Colleen and Michael,
    Its wonderful to read your accounts and accompany you this way. I know your sore throat will get better right away. How rewarding it must be to connect with people in India and they with you! You articulated my feelings about the news in the U.S. and how we are uninformed about lives of real people of the world, their joys and problems, whereas they have a lot of news about us - not always about the diversity in the U.S., but often some exaggerated stereotypes from films and TV. I live in China and teach English from time to time, and while there is government censorship of information, I wouldn't call it "uber-control" - in fact China has some of the best information exchange grapevines available - while not being bombarded with disaster news. Right or wrong, their news often focuses on positive human interest stories. Furthermore, it is one of the most crazy, chaotic and fun societies, held in place by social norms. Broad generalizations - but the view through my knothole. I wish I were in India right now! Thanks so much for being there and taking me with you. Cathy

  • At 7:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thanks for the concise up date. They are very lucky to have you as you are lucky to learn from the experience. Get well and look forward to reading more of your adventure.

  • At 7:18 PM, Blogger cp said…

    Cathy-the characterization of China's government being ultra controlling over what can be published, etc., came from those who are from that country. It's nothing that I would take upon myself to say because I've never been there. But the people who are from there say it is extremely difficult to write about what the government might consider controversal or critical of it.


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