Hello everyone! Welcome to The Peace Stories. Today we have Arjun Narayanan with us. Arjun is a Journalist and Film Researcher. Today on the occasion of World Storytelling Day, we are honored to have Arjun with us, sharing his love for stories, his storytelling endeavors, the story of a chance encounter with an auto driver, and how it inspired him to become The Madraswallah. Come, let’s hear his peace story.
Let’s Know the Storyteller:
Hi everyone, I am Arjun Narayanan. I am from Thrissur, in Kerala. It is called the cultural capital of the state and I think that element has had a big impact on me. I am from a Tamil-speaking family but am very comfortable with Malayalam and read, write and speak in that language. I am a journalist and content marketer by profession and have been in Chennai for a decade now. I am also a film researcher. For 2-3 years I also taught children as a part of a non-profit initiative. I love traveling and have been in many places so far.
Storytelling is something I’ve loved to do since childhood. I think regardless of where I work, I see myself as a storyteller.– Arjun Narayanan
Story Behind ‘The Madraswallah’ Podcast:
I started the Madraswallah Podcast because I wanted to share my passion for the pop culture of the 80s and 90s with the world and did not find a platform to do so. I began talking about the good old serials of the 80s and 90s that have stood the test of time. Later, I made it a bilingual podcast and run it in English and Hindi. The name Madraswallah is something that I picked when I began my Instagram profile and later used it for my website as well. I have a deep love for Madras, my karma bhumi but I also love Hindi cinema, literature, and places in the Hindi belt. I guess the amalgamation gave it the name Madraswallah. Someone who can be home with Hindi but identifies with Madras. When I began my podcast, I used the same name for it too.
A Note on Peace:
It is a state of mind. Peace is a state of equilibrium when one isn’t overtly swayed by joy or sorrow when the mind is at rest. Those moments are fleeting because the mind is capricious. But like a gentle breeze, they come all of a sudden and are good while they last. I don’t think one can go in search of it anywhere because it is all inside. A change of environment helps but it is also temporary. Soon, the mind will find problems in the new environment.
Memorable Moments from His Volunteering Experience:
There are many to pick from. Some of them are very personal. But many of the kids I taught did well later in life. I cannot lay any claim to their success for it was a result of their own determination and the support they received from many people. But when they are still in touch with me and give me life updates, it makes me happy.
The Strangers Connect:
In 2015, during the Chennai floods, I lost all my work since my files were destroyed after our office floor flooded. I did not have online links to most of those stories and even the pdf backups were lost. It was quite disheartening. But when I was returning home from the office that day, an auto driver told me how he lost all his household belongings in the floods and was yet committed to restarting his life. It was an aha moment for me. I felt my loss was nothing before this and I felt I should work on something to showcase my works online. That is how I began my website Madraswallah.com.
The Chennai floods suddenly got me connected to the city because I saw people come together like never before. And I began loving it a lot more seeing how much people can support each other here.
I saw how people who lost it all were willing to restart and build it all over again. It gave me a sense of belongingness to the city.– Arjun Narayanan
A Beautiful Realization About Life:
We are not so significant in this world. It has been there before us and will be there after us. Our ego makes us the center of our story.
Karma is real. You just need to wait for it to play out its script. All the pieces finally make sense together in the end.– Arjun Narayanan
The Journey of Simply Stories Chennai Initiative:
Simply Stories Chennai is an endeavor to keep the tradition of Oral Storytelling alive. In the modern world, we are losing stories that were kept alive over centuries by bards, storytellers, wandering minstrels, and even grandparents.
It is an attempt to take people back to simple storytelling, sans any of the modern-day frills. Our storytellers bring alive stories derived from the myths, folktales, and classics of India.
It was founded by me along with my friends Shweta Balambal and Karthik Krishna in 2017 and over the years, it has won appreciation from story lovers from all over the country.
When we started, the city already had an active community for storytelling for children, but not for adults. WE try to revisit stories from our Puranas, epics, older stories from the Kathasaritsagara, Hitopadesha, Jataka, or folktales from across India. We also narrate stories from the country’s historical events, and popular classics.
Arjun’s Letter to the Younger Self:
Dear Younger Self,
You think you would have figured it all out at my age but I am still figuring it out and it is fine. So don’t think you need to know it all. We will never know it all.
Love and Light, Arjun
Arjun’s Favorite Books and Movies:
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It’s not just the basic plotline. These epics have several smaller stories in them that teach you a lot about life. Several great works have been inspired by them. In the colonial era, I like the works of Tagore, especially his novel Gora. I have adored the work of RK Narayan. I read a lot of non-fiction, especially on politics, philosophy, and cinema.
Among movies, I love the cinema of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Guru Dutt. But my favorite movie is perhaps Mother India.
Gratitude Notes of Arjun:
I am grateful for things falling in place every time they fell apart. Some force helped it happen and I keep thanking it every day.– Arjun Narayanan
My family for giving me a strong foundation to stand upon and my friends who have been a part of this circus of life with me. I am grateful.
(We will add your gratitude notes to our Big Gratitude Jar, where we collect all the beautiful things we are grateful for.)
About Arjun Narayanan:
Arjun is a Banker turned Journalist from Chennai who has been writing on classical art forms and cinema for over a decade. He takes a special interest in the classics of Indian television and runs The Madraswallah Podcast. Arjun has been a research fellow with the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) and has researched the influence of courtesans and devadasis on early Indian films. He runs a storytelling initiative called Simply Stories Chennai, which aims to keep the tradition of oral storytelling alive in India.
TPS: Thank you, Arjun for being with us and sharing your story with The Peace Stories. We are honored to have you here. We wish you all the best for your journey ahead. May you be guided by peace and purpose.
(Edited by The Peace Stories)
About The Peace Stories
We are building a space for calm and bliss. A space for counting our blessings. A space for just breathing and being. I welcome you all to come along with me to build our very own community of peace. The Peace Stories: Together we smile, together we heal.
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