Touched 85000 lives through storytelling, since 37 years old


Meet Geeta Ramanujam, the Lioness of Storytelling, Founder of Kathalaya and winner of Heroes of Bengaluru Award in the category of Arts and Culture.

Geeta Ramanujam: Lioness of Storytelling



Started storytelling 37 years ago and has touched 85000 lives to date.

In 1996 she reached out to cancer patients, special children, educators, care takers, trainers and shared with them the joys of storytelling and even trained some of them to deliver this in different parts of the country though her academy.
Her brainchild – Kathalaya Learning Centre turns 20 in 2018!
She also conducts corporate workshops on storytelling and travels to different parts of the world to share this passion with keen learners.

We caught up with this Hero of Bengaluru to get a closer look at where she comes from, what ignites her and inspires her to do what she does:

Why storytelling and not something else? While you are very well qualified (M.Ed) and have such a great persona, what made you go into a non-mainstream area like storytelling?

Initially I started because I felt there were fewer options. And I was clear about one thing that I wanted to do something different, address an inherent problem and make a difference. I felt our educational system needed a revamp. Traditional learning was done through stories. These days with the advent of technology and an overload of information, children don’t have that kind of retention. They easily get disinterested and even distracted. When they are not interested, they don’t retain anything they learn.

“Nothing sells like stories”

Geeta Ramanujam: While telling a story

When I was a teacher, I took up the role of a librarian and I understood this – Reading is a skill and it takes time to develop. So I would tell a story from the book to the students when they’d come to the library…and then after an hour the bell would ring for them to return to class. And the children would say – tell us what happens next – and that’s when I’d direct them to the book from where I had picked the story and tell them – go home and read it to know what happens next. This built interest in them to start reading.

I feel when a student is interested is when retention will take place, and once retention happens, recall is a natural result.  This basic, yet key difference between modern learning methods and storytelling is what got me deeply into what I do.

Can you recall some struggles and challenges you faced in your journey so far?

Instead of sighing deep….She animated says “nothing new can be achieved without a struggle. It is part of the game. One of my biggest struggle was the perspective people had about storytelling. They’d say what’s the big deal about storytelling – our teachers will do it. Also storytelling cannot fetch you good marks, has little or no academic benefit so why waste time and effort in it.

To me storytelling is like love – you cannot see it, but can only feel it in your heart and in your life. Love to me is that which is left when you remove hate, jealousy, anger, frustration and such non serving emotions from your heart.

An inspiring soul with her stories

Love and storytelling are both not measurable yet their impact cannot be denied in the overall development of children.

She adds further, “Ask any adult what they recall from their childhood – and 100% of the time you’ll see them recall stories of pranks, fun, time spent with friends, how they played the role of a tree and simply stood on stage for 3 years of drama cause they couldn’t do anything else…all this recall comes from the emotional quotient – and the sad truth is no academic can help you recall.”

Changing multiple buses, travelling across the length and breadth of the country, (because I didn’t want to take any monetary help from my family) my work was pretty uphill back then…but extremely fulfilling, and that is what kept me going.”

What were your initial days like?

Story telling was treated as entertainment and while I didn’t like to use that as a descriptor, I put on blinkers and still took on assignments – never said a no.  If this was the only way to get an entry, so be it.  Deepa Sridhar of Kumarans School invited me to do my sessions with her students under the tree in her school. One such day that I was conducting the class, her mother saw me and immediately said to Deepa, why should all these interesting events happen only in your school – send Geeta to my school too – and this how my initial days of storytelling looked.

What next?

We have designed courses in our academy and are offering them in other cities like Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. Helpful samaritans are coming forward and helping with translations so we can reach the interior rural villages and tribal areas of Patna and Maharashtra to take storytelling to the children there and bring more sunshine into their lives with this fun way of learning!

What inspires you to get out of bed each day and go out there to create your magic through stories?

I love myself and I love my work. I am a spiritual person and have visited over 500 places like temples, energy centres, mountains and lakes over my lifetime. When I wake up each morning, before I open my eyes, I visualize all these places and thank God for one more day of this vision and the ability to touch more lives.

Interviewed by
Leena Munot
Author, blogger, trainer, entrepreneur

 For Heroes of Bengaluru
Initiative of DreamCraft Events & Entertainment P. Ltd.

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