Happy New Year

Happy new year from Pondicherry! As I write, fireworks are going off all around me and I can hear the cheers and shouts of the people gathered on Beach Road from our room on the roof. I walked out briefly onto the roofdeck to see if I could see the fireworks, and a few did make it above the trees, but most were just sparkles among the leaves or colored reflections on walls. (I’m told that the police station themselves along Beach Road and wave their lathis at the pedestrians and bicyclists out celebrating the new year, telling them to “go home”, but I haven’t ventured out to see for myself.)

I got home at 11pm after an eight and a half hour journey by car from Bangalore, crammed in an Ambassador with three tall men and a not-so-tall (male) driver. I caught a ride with Brij Kothari, his BookBox and PlanetRead colleague Nirav Shah, and an Isreali volunteer, Mark Segal, who performed a business review of Brij’s programs. Brij and Nirav had just secured an agreement with Doordarshan, the national television station, to subtitle two weekly programs in Kannada (the language of the state of Karnataka) just before we left Bangalore.

Brij’s programs have grown substantially since I wrote about them in February. For one, PlanetRead was recenly awarded a grant from the Google Foundation, which will allow them to reach audiences in more states in India, and perhaps extend their literacy enhancement programs to neighboring countries. And BookBox continues to add stories in different languages.

Mark is still in Bangalore, working with John Silliphant and Mark Peters on ‘a campaign so simple it just might work…’ Intrigued? Stay tuned for more…


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