And so far the semester is off to a great start; I am really happy about how the class is going as a teacher, and I am also really happy about what I am going to get to do as a student. I started off knowing I wanted to work on the Hanuman Chalisa (and I've got my index cards now so that I can practice reciting on my daily walks!), and I am even more excited now that I have my reading plan, which consists of the Ramakien for Weeks 3-4-5 (Ramayana weeks), and then when we start the Mahabharata in Week 6, I'm going to re-read Chitra Divakaruni's Palace of Illusions... and then after that I am going to read her brand-new novel about Sita: Forest of Enchantments. That book hasn't arrived yet, but I ordered my copy and it should be here soon. Chitra says that she considers it her best novel so far, which makes me even more excited to read it.
Reading the Ramakien is turning out to be the perfect choice. I know some of the stories in there, but I have never read the whole thing from cover to cover, and already in my first reading chunk there were FABULOUS stories I had not ever heard before. I think my favorite is the idea that Ahalya instead of being turned into stone for Rama to rescue (like in Valmiki) is turned into stone that Rama will use to build the bridge to Lanka, leaving her at the bottom of the ocean forever. Wow! That is sooooo harsh. And since she is Hanuman's grandmother in this family tree, that is an excuse for me to use that story for Week 3. I really like the idea that whatever direction I go in for the Hanuman Storybook, I can fill up my blog with lots of Hanuman stories, just like I had lots of chain tales last semester beyond the ones I included in my Portfolio.
I was also really happy with the story that I wrote for Week 2! I knew I wanted to do a "fake news" take on the jataka story of the foolish rabbit, and I had it all written up, and then, when I saw the reference to the "king" in the English folktale version, I thought of King Trumpet the Elephant, ha ha. So I wove that into the story too. It always feels good to write the first story for the semester: I get that rush of creative adrenaline, and that reminds me how much fun it is. Writing a story is always a little scary at first, but it's a good kind of scary: the leap into the unknown.
Next week is going to be rough because I have to go back to Texas, but I had a great start to the semester, and I hope the momentum from the Week 1 and Week 2 stuff will carry me on through the next couple of weeks. And I've got Palace of Illusions on my Kindle, so I might even be able to start reading that on my trip... Yay for Kindles on airplanes! :-)
Here's the cover of Chitra's new novel: it's gorgeous!