VAISHNAVI SOOD and RONIKA ANGELINA
We are also the sum of stories we have grown on and stories we have lived,” said the well-known storyteller Nikhil Taneja while interacting with students at Shoolini University. Nikhil is a writer, producer, entrepreneur and a teacher, who likes to refer to himself as a storyteller.
He has a wide experience of working in the media field and has worked with Hindustan Times, MTV, Yash Raj Films and has now started his own organisation, ‘Yuvaa’. Yuvaa is a story telling platform that aims to listen to and share stories of the Indian Youth and make people feel less alone.
“Yes, everyone’s story matters. Everyone has something or the other thing to narrate. Before we live our stories, we post them. We are always in a rush to be somewhere. Let’s not be harsh on ourselves. Let’s be patient”, he said.
Hailing from Baharain, Nikhil initially joined an engineering course on his parent’s insistence but soon realised that engineering was not something that he wanted to do. He jokingly remarked, “A successful engineer has to do two things i.e. – to leave engineering and to find a partner and I did both so then I started writing as it gave me true happiness.”
He said that stories empower people while identities and labels given to individuals without a choice by the society constrains and divide people. He shared many anecdotes from his own life including stories behind his various professional choices as well as their destination wedding stories and the usual fights between the in laws. He recalled that his perspective changed completely after his mother explained why a son’s marriage is so important for his mother as it is the last time a mother gets to take decisions for her son.
He said, “One-Late-Night-Conversation makes the shift from good friends to best friends as stories that we share in those moments leads to empathy and brings people closer. This empathy and all these stories make us human.”
Nikhil also shared many inspiring stories that he has come across from his classrooms and how these stories would suddenly change the perspectives of classmates for each other helping them to raise above their initial and superficial judgements. He said that every story is important and encouraged the Shoolinians to respect and to take time to listen to each other.
In the end, he invited students to share their stories in which a few students came up and shared their stories of choosing different career paths, adjusting to the university life in a new state to their concerns for their friends from their native states.
The Yuvaa team goes around nationwide to hear each youngsters’ story. The team has been to Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh, Shimla, North East, Indore, also Port Blair. It has covered over 30 cities and about 100 colleges to encourage all the youngsters, who have their own story, inspiring story, to tell.