A Unique Editing Journey by Dr. Vardhini Desikan
As a family, we would spend every summer visiting family in Tamil Nadu. During one such visit we got the opportunity to participate in seva work, for Aid India’s Eureka program, teaching English to village kids. Shravan, my son, has since, on return to New York has continued the teachings every Saturday, with online classes.
Shravan’s deep involvement with Games for Seva, in New York, led to developing a unique bilingual resource book, ‘Dreams of Maddur’, in Thamizh & English. It combined field work in India, in the village of Maddur, Tamilnadu, with the design work done back in New York. Shravan tested the concept during his weekly online classes. The idea was to create a handy reference to many synonyms and antonyms for simple words, so that vocabulary building could be as natural as possible. I offered to edit the book and little did I know what a journey that would be! It included fonts, translations and Thirukurral reviews with Haritha!
The Benefits of Editing!
It brought me joy to find Tamizh words for all the vocabulary words in English. It made me fondly remember my school days since I had not written anything in Tamizh since then. Those were times when I read many great Tamizh novels including the famous Ponnian Selvan by Kalki. I used to read all the Tamizh magazines from end to end the first day we got them from our weekly subscriptions. I am thankful for those cherished memories.
There are multiple Tamizh fonts and different ways each translator service translates the English alphabet to Tamozh online. This was eye opening, as I did not realize this — I thought there was only one way to write the Tamizh script. Our book designer did not know Tamizh, and they were sitting all the way at the other end of the world, so this was essential to get the right material for print. There is always something new to learn.
Editing the booklet was new and an uncharted territory for me. Having never done this before, I did not have a specific plan in mind. I just read and made corrections as I went along. I made careless errors in not picking up obvious mistakes and because of this we had to have several revisions of the book. Wish I had learnt a methodology to editing books before starting. I am sure there is a course online, maybe even a free one, as it is for everything nowadays. I even found a major mistake as I was standing in the line to board a plane for our vacation where I would not have internet access. This resulted in a frantic text to stop printing the almost final version of the book. Editing did take multiple hours of closely reading small words and letters at an age common for farsightedness!
The Heart of Tamilnadu
My involvement started many years ago, accompanying my son, Shravan, on one of our village visits in Tamil Nadu. Having grown up in India and being a Pediatrician and mother, my passion and commitment to help children in anyway I can, came spontaneously.
All in all, it has been great to be involved as a team player in a small way for a wonderful cause, and to help and uplift children in a fun and meaningful way.