Full Moon Rising

February 24, 2005

Today, all the Hindu gods from the temples in Pondicherry, as well as nearby temples from as far as an hour north and south of Pondicherry, were brought down to the beach, where the worshipers took darshan and a ritual dip in the water. Starting early in the morning, the gods were carried on ox carts and farm machinery, framed in flowered wooden arches measuring the width of an ox cart and about 8 feet high. The carts were preceded by groups of worshipers drumming and dancing; and trailed by other worshipers carrying offerings and diyas (candles). Women wore their best saris. Small children were made to don silver or gold lame-covered hats. Food and souvenir stalls were set up by the beach.

As the full moon rose over the Indian Ocean, first red with the last light of the sun, then bright bright, Brij Kothari started his presentation of BookBox to honor all the people who helped in the development of these learning tools.

BookBox is a essentially a web-based jukebox of digital books in languages from around the world. It synchronizes the text, audio, and visual media to create an educational and entertaining reading experience for children and even adults who still have a child in them! Based on proven methods of Same Language Subtitling (SLS), BookBox aims to not only enhance children’s basic literacy, but also facilitate their proficiency in foreign languages.

First, he showed an example of the work that led to BookBox, same-language subtitling of popular Hindu movie song videos, whose aim is to teach “early” literate (those that know the alphabet, but cannot read) and ill-literate people in India (about a third of the population – equivalent to the entire population of the United States) to read. Then he showed examples of some of the digital “books” that have been subtitled and read in different languages, sometimes with multiple subtitles. When Brij asked all the people who helped in this project to come up and be recognized for their contribution, over half the audience of over 60 people gathered on the roof terrace at Horizon, the Kothari family residence, got up. The artist who did most of the animation for the stories, the translators, the people who read the stories in their native languages… people from the Ashram, Auroville, and Pondicherry… an amazing collection of Mandarin, Bengali, French, Dutch, Tamil, etc. speakers. (Someone told Brij that in these three communities, there were native speakers of over 50 languages.)

Next, Brij would like to title and translate stories of social entrepreneurs and NGOs.

With the moon high and light, Mark and I said goodbye to the many friends we have made in our short time in Pondicherry.


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