Tiger and Anumeha Fatehpuria of The Arts in Education

In a world dominated by technological advances where your only source of entertainment is being hooked to your laptop, tablet and TV and when you end up having more meaningful conversations with your spouse, partner, children and parents is on the phone – This little lady in a white top and a floral printed skirt and free flowing hair and spirit wages her war on the dull lives that our children are forced to have by choosing to be a teacher. Meet the writer, stage actor, story teller and educator – Anumeha Fatehpuria!

She is on a short trip to Bangalore to conduct a workshop for children and is gearing up for the first of the classes to open tomorrow and we could catch up for a chat. Read on…

Being born in a joint family has its advantages, she says and so does being the youngest of all the children. You are pampered, loved and cared for but also bullied by all the older children! I had the most engaging and interesting childhood and had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of stories and that is what I love to do now – pass on that knowledge and use my creativity to help children interact better, get amazed and hooked.

Hi Anumeha! How are you! Welcome. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Thank you Tiger! I am good. Busy with planning and coordinating the workshop. And she settles down with a bottle of water.. water only.. no coffee.

I am a teacher, actor (have worked in theatre), I make handmade paper products like jewelry, necklaces, cards, wedding cards, return cards and what not and am a business woman in food (She helps out with her family business of frozen vegetables – SabSamay Foods) and I am the founder of The Arts in Education.

Tell us more about ‘The Arts in Education’ and what is this workshop about!
This workshop is for children between 5 to 12 years and we will be exploring theatre through mundane objects along with making puppets literally out of junk.

Education has become a race and you study to get good grades only and nothing else. I want to change that by giving children an option to have fun while learning and understand what they are reading. I am a trained teacher. So as an educator and as a student of Performing and Fine arts, I bring the experience of teaching and arts to education – thus The Arts in Education!

Tell me about your childhood. Where were you born?
I was born in Calcutta and I still like calling it Calcutta as opposed to Kolkata. 
My childhood was full of people, experiences, emotions, things to learn, things to do, full of stories and everything that could lead to one.

What did you study? 
I did my schooling at Modern High School for Girls and my graduation at The Bhawanipur Education Society College. Then I earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Print & Web Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore. After this I completed the Nursery Foundation Programme at Indian Montessori Centre in Calcutta.
What were your dreams like? What are your hobbies like?
I was very creative and was always thinking of new possibilities. I would sit on the window sill very often and wonder if when I would find other planets with people and I was convinced that in reality, our planet was just one of the nine balls being kicked around in some giant’s garden!
My life was also full of witches flying on broomsticks looking for children to turn into soup and I was sure that THAT was the reason we had power cuts in Calcutta. I also wanted to catch flying horses, a chasing moon, and fairies and was terrified of goblins. 

How did the present idea come up? How did entrepreneurial ideas come out?
I started Prishth as something I was doing to break away from writing my thesis and soon one little step led to another and it started to turn into a business. It’s been a roller coaster ride, and I continue to discover.
Teaching was something I had never thought I would do, but coming from a family of educators, it did not seem unnatural. My mother was the one who insisted I try it out and give it my best before deciding. One beautiful incident during my internship changed everything for me. I fell in love with teaching.
Food is another thing that takes up a lot of my time. Either eating it or making it! Our family has been working in the foods line since the decades and now we are working on introducing ranges which appeal to the ‘foodies’, both young and old.

Tell me more! Your hands are too busy. What all do you do?

My contemporary crafts organisation is called Prishth. It’s a Sanskrit word and I was looking something which signified paper and anything natural and from the Earth. 
The family foods business is called Sabsamay Foods. This has been my father’s baby and now we are working on this together.
I have also started an initiative recently, called The Arts in Education. It’s a place where educators, those passionate about it and even students can share their experiences about the same.

What is the USP of your idea with The Arts in Education?
They can expect absolute clarity. 
Since I look at everything as a learning experience, I talk to those working with me a lot to understand what exactly they are looking for and discuss ways in which I can best deliver. 
I always feel that I’m doing it for myself and not for someone else. It’s been the same mantra for Prishth, Sabsamay, for teaching and for writing. 

As an experienced teacher, what should be the best way to teach children?
children enough space, let them be and just watch. You would find that they have several questions, doubts, opinions and choices they want to explore, talk to you about and ask. Once you let them be free, they come out with the most interesting of topics and amaze you.
I also never use the word ‘NO’. Using strong negative words like ‘Don’t’, ‘No’ actually work in the reverse. You should suggest a better way of doing it or divert their mind to something else. Encourage what they want to do and learn. 

Tell me more about the workshop – Dramamama Puppet Wuppet and what can children and parents expect from this?
The workshop is open for children between 5 to 12 years and is conducted for 90 minutes everyday for five days. Children learn to express, emote and act during this workshop and are taught to express freely and openly without inhibitions and bring out their creativity using puppets and characters. This time I am conducting this workshop at The Collage.

How do puppets help 
children emote?
You would be surprised to find what c
hildren go through. Though most adults don’t actually believe, children go through a lot of stress these days and cannot share it with anyone. Children have stress, inhibitions and fears from their daily routine and this workshop provides children a platform to enter a character to move and act as an independent thereby helps them to turn their problems to positivity in a creative way. I have seen the most quietest of children come out and express themselves beautifully with puppets. 

I understand. Any best compliment/feedback so far?
After buying Prishth products, I have had people write back with lovely notes telling me how much their gifts were appreciated. I have also had several parents of the children I teach remind me every time I speak with them in person or over long distance conversations and emails how I made a lasting difference in their children’s lives. But the best feedback I get, is from my children, when even after years of teaching them, they remember, and the love, affection and trust they show day after day makes up for several special moments.

What are the future plans?
I plan to continue going from strength to strength and build the vision I have of a mahasangam. I am also writing stories and curricula 
for children. I would like to keep those plans private for now, until such time that they start taking a more concrete shape.
Tell me about your family!
My father Krishna Kumar Fatehpuria is an MBA from IIM, Calcutta. He’s an entrepreneur and after running our cold storage and bringing Safal to the eastern region of India, he started his own brand of frozen vegetables called Sabsamay Foods.
My mother Usha Fatehpuria is a Special Educator who started her education at Benaras Hindu University and completed it at Birmingham University. She worked with Manovikas Kendra for many years.
My sister Anubha Fatehpuria is an Architect and stage actor having done several productions over the last 15 years.

Any message for our readers and new entrepreneurs?
It’s painful and scary to walk your own path, especially when the grass is still green and high and you can’t see what dangers lie beneath. 
Be brave anyway, and start walking. You will learn to face those dangers and they will learn to respect you.

If you have 
children and you want to give them a bit of exposure to arts and theater and help their creativity soar, reach out to this workshop today!
You can reach Anumeha by mailing her at anumeha.fatehpuria@gmail.com or call: +91 9916109437/9830731066.

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