Saturday, January 31, 2015

Possible Storybook Styles


My Storybook will be focused on the geographical features of India. I’d like to include the Himalayas (Mount Kailish), the Ganges river, the Dandaka forest, and one involving an ocean. I’d like to tell the story through the eyes of two kids trekking the area and learning about the significance of the landmarks through people from the respective regions. I’d like to incorporate some of the epics from the Ramayana. Of course I’d include some great photographs and maybe the tie the fables in with the features included in the illustrations.


Buck, William (1976). Ramayana: King Rama's Way. The story of the Dandaka Forest and the story titled “The Thorn in the World’s side.”

Writing Styles

Journey. A journey through the region told in first person as a friend and I travel through India   exploring some of the most notable landmarks. It would entail meeting people from each                  area who could explain the cultural significance of each site. The people at each site            would point us to the next stop on our adventure as the plot unfolded.

Story. A story being told in third person by an Indian elder. Again, this would involve the two kids who know little about the significance of the geography. They would coincidentally come across the elder who would paint a vivid picture of the occurrence that afforded each place its value.

Voyage. This style would entail children on a cultural/religious voyage throughout India as they stopped at each significant site. Their parents would explain why they traveled to each site and provide a story as to why it was important for the children to travel there.

Cause for significance. This would entail being the reason why each place had cultural value. This would be a first-person story in which the main character had some remarkable event take place at these spectacular locations. It would be these occurrences, then, that were cause for the importance of the location. None of these would involve battles (too cliché for my liking); instead, something along the lines of a daring rescue or accomplishing a near impossible feat (i.e. breaking the bow in order to gain Sita’s hand in marriage) would be the event. I like this idea just because it allows for complete control over the content of the story and affords me the luxury to take the plot in whichever direction that I please.
                                                                 The Sacred Site

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week 3 Storytelling

“Search for Sita in every nook and corner.” This was the only fragment of instruction young Kahi heard Rama give as he prepared the monkey armies to traverse the land in search for Sita.
Kahi, intrigued by the excitement surrounding the search, decided to fill in his two best friends—Leali and Anka -- of what he’d heard from the majestic Rama. “His wife has been abducted,” exclaimed Kahi. Anka, suddenly appearing uneasy, then confessed “A time ago while I was out picking berries heard a woman’s shout come from the sky. Startled, I took cover behind a redwood. As I searched the sky for where the cry could have originated I saw a chariot zip across the horizon. It was traveling south over the great mass of water.” Leali, being the adventurous of the three, jumped with joy and shouted, “We’re going! We’re going to join in on the search!” Anka pleaded, “We’re too young. What if we get lost? What if he run in to violence? We can’t fight adults. We’re only of ten and two full seasonal cycles.” The decision had been made – they were going to search for Sita covertly

Before sunrise they following day they snuck out of their comfortable living quarters in the city center. Making their way into the newly sprung foliage, all three of their faces gleamed with excitement. “Ah, what a great smell,” said Kahi in reference to the pine scent of the forest. Twigs cracked, the moist grounds sunk, rivers rushed, and birds chirped as they made their way south towards the great water. “You said that Sita was carried over the water, right?” Remarked Kahi, sporting an inquisitive expression. Leali, knowing just where this series of inquiries was heading, said “the bushes along the beach where we’re heading bear rare fruits. Fruits which, when eaten, afford the ability to hold ones breath for days.” Kahi and Anka looked at one another in a frightened manner. “I’ve done it before. Don’t worry,” encouraged Leali.

While the youngsters sat on the beach on ate of the fruit, Hanuman and his raucous army showed up. Frightened by the punishment that might be handed down, the three attempted to make a break back into the forest. “Halt or we’ll shoot!” shouted a soldier. “Aren’t you three adolescents the descendants of Karkeez? You live in our village, do you not?” probed another. Kahi, frightened at how upset his elders would be, pleaded, “We can help. There is no way you can cross this body of water as is. Eat of this fruit and you’ll be able to trek thru it.” “What do you mean ‘trek thru it?” probed the soldier. “Well, you see, these allow you to be able to hold your breath for days. Given that amount of time, you can walk right across the bottom and surprise the enemy on the other side,” exclaimed Kahi. After much debate, Hanuman and Rama agreed that this was the best option. “However, you three must go back to the city and watch after your younger siblings. I will not place three adolescents in direct harm,” demanded Rama.
                                                            Preparation for Travel

The monkey army, utilizing the idea presented by Kahi, slipped into the water under the moonlight and capitalized on the element of surprise-- defeating Ravana and his army while they slept.
Author's note:
I wrote this story in third person in order to afford the reader with what these three adolescents hoped to accomplish. It is very much like a younger person to attempt to do something all by themselves. Although the kids didn't quite accomplish their task, they were able to serve their army. This story provided an alternative means by which the monkey army defeated Ravana. The actual epic claimed that the monkey army scoured southern India in search for Sita and only came to the southernmost edge once they encountered Sampathi. My changes to the original story include the method by which the army crossed the ocean as well as how the final battle unfolded. I thought that these changes would serve as a refreshing twist in the tale as no adolescents had been heavily involved aside from Rama. The image that I selected was taken from a Google search. It was an illustration of what I thought the monkey army would look like as they ate the fruit to prepare to cross the ocean. My hope with all of my blog posts is to be able to include an image that readily depicts the significant occurrences within the tale.


Narayan, R. K. (1972) The Ramayana.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Week 3 Reading Diary B: A Violent Encounter

I found it to be odd that Rama decided to allow Vibishana into the group even though he parted ways with his brother. He proved to be an ally—yes – however, they took on a great risk by allowing him entry in their group. He could have wreaked great havoc had he elected to.

I can’t imagine being able to allow an opponent of mine – someone who kidnapped by wife at that—to surrender even after the fight appeared to be tilting in my favor. Most would have sought to exact vengeance with their own fists after learning of Ravana’s acts. But then again, Rama is quite the exceptional character.

How could Ravana be so stubborn? Clearly, he was close to losing the battle and yet he refused to resign. His entire populace had died on the battle field and not even this dissuaded his efforts.

The battle between Rama and Ravana was epic (no pun intended). My only reservation would be that it would have done the epic well to have more visual descriptions of the battle and its unfolding.

I legitimately became upset at Rama for just a few lines as I thought he was going to let all of his work be in vain.

What a violent and wildly suspenseful happily-ever-after.

Week 3 Reading Diary A: Search for Sita

Why did the author decide to choose monkeys as the animal of choice for this section?

What will transpire as a result of the encounter with the monkey named Hanuman?

Vali acted rather brash in his handling of Sugreeva following the conquest of Mayavi.

I don’t understand why Vali attempted to justify his actions to Rama on his death bed and question Rama for what he’d done.

Will Sugreeva honor his promise to help out Rama? It seems like he may end up betraying both Rama and Lakshmana.

Great! Sugreeva will indeed honor his promise and help Rama to find Sita. I’m glad that Sugreeva has committed to helping and I’m shocked at just how loyal they are to the cause.

How will the monkeys be able to scour all of the earth and possibly beyond in order to track down where Ravana has taken Sita? Their task seems formidable.

One facet of the characters is their inherent goodwill and intent to comfort all who have faced some trial. For example, the monkeys demonstrate great compassion by consoling Sampathi after the death of Jatayu.

                                                                 Cautious Encounter

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Storybook Topics

1)      Possible topic: Exploring the Himalayan Mountains. This is such a large landmark in the area in which the stories take place. From photographs that I’ve seen over the years I can see why it would be subject to much discussion. I’m sure that there are many spectacular features around the mountain range. I would enjoy finding out why each peak is so significant to different groups of people.

Research so far: I’ve looked at the sample storybook section titled “Traveling India.” This offered many geographical features that whetted my interest in the subject matter. Also, I browsed google images for some photographs of the mountain range and I found it to be quite the spectacle.
Source; Humbling horizon; By: Himanshu Punetha

2)      Possible topic: Exploring the Ganges River. Again, its cultural significance is something that intrigues me. Furthermore, I would enjoy being able to learn about all of its features.


Research so far: I know that it flows through several countries as well as it has several tributaries. It makes sense that several societal groups would settle down near its banks because of the rich source of food it would be.


3)      Possible topic: Exploration of multiple major land features (i.e. mountains, rivers, forests, etc.)  in the southwest Asian area. I’m intrigued by the beauty of these landmarks. I want to learn just what the stories are about all of these spectacular places. I think what I would do is trek through the area and come into contact with several groups of people in the respective areas and learn more about the landmarks through adventure and their narrative.

Research so far: Well, several stories exist regarding the importance if the various landmarks from what I’ve read on the storybook examples page. I’d like to incorporate actual accounts as well as include many photographs of the scenery.  


4)      Possible Topic: The moral code of The Ramayana. Although somewhat spoken about in the story, I would enjoy learning more about the code that seemingly all of the characters strive to follow. Most literary figures lack this type of responsibility and it struck me as intriguing how the characters of Ramayana followed it.


Research so far: The book itself provided me with my first exposure to the fact that all of the characters noted the importance of this type of morality. According to an internet search, the purpose of these traits in most all of the characters was to live according to dharma.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 2 Storytelling: Mareecha's journey

“He must be killed at once!” exclaimed Mareecha. “Not a soul on this earth can kill my mother and get away with it.” These were Mareecha’s feelings following Thataka’s death at the hand of Rama in the forest of Sidhasrama. Just before Mareecha was set to pounce, Rama pivoted and released an arrow, catapulting Mareecha into the sea of Madartha with the force of the strike. Unconscious, Mareecha was guided by the current onto the sandy cove. At the break of dawn the next day, Mareecha awoke to the screech of feral baboons. Startled, he jolted up and looked around – there was nothing but water his east and jungle in remaining directions. “I can’t survive in there,” he remarked, “I’ll be eaten by some voracious beast before sundown.” He panicked and called upon the one being that could help him out of his situation – Yatha, overseer of the jungle. “Yatha,” he pleaded, “return me to my village and I promise to live a life of rectitude.” “No.” Replied Yatha. “You must live in the jungle AND carry out good works for those in need.” Mareecha, frayed by the approaching sounds of the jungle creatures, agreed. Abiding by the commands of Yatha, Mareecha lived on the outskirts of the jungle practicing goodwill and spirituality.
Source; Mareecha's cove

Meanwhile, Ravana, insatiable because of the description of Sita, burst into Mareecha’s living accommodation. “Mareecha! My uncle, I am in dire need of your help.” said Ravana. “I know that under your agreement with Yatha you can assist only those in need. And, well, I’m in need.” Ravana pleaded, “The love of my life is being held captive by two mortals. Won’t you aid me in liberating her?” Mareecha, fulfilling his oath to Yatha, obliged. “Present yourself as a fox of the forest and draw her away from her captors and towards me” said Ravana. Mareecha lauded the idea for its feasibility, “What a fantastic idea!”

 Upon arrival near the camp, Mareecha noticed just who her captors were – Rama and his brother. “I can’t; I can’t do this,” he quipped.  Just the look of Rama’s face made Mareecha frightened. “He’ll surely take my life if he catches me and realizes who I really am,” said Mareecha. So he darted for the thick of the forest and Rama chased shortly behind. “I just wanted a life of tranquility,” thought Mareecha as he pondered in what would surely be his last moments. Rama, realizing that this was no ordinary fox, drew a spear and hurled it in the path of Mareecha. It grazed Mareecha in the tail but not such it would do him any harm. “Yatha, please help me out of this!” claimed Mareecha. “I thought this was an innocuous instance of help. Rama tricked me!” Yatha, understanding the nature of what unfolded, granted Mareecha his wish and whisked him back to his hut. “Surely now you know who and who not to help, right?” said Yatha. “Your nephew wanted nothing more than to use you in order to fulfill his lustful desires.” Ravana made away with Sita and arrived back home with a new woman in hand. Because of the wrong he did to a harmless Rama, Mareecha felt compelled to reach out to Rama and offer his services in recapturing Sita.
Source: Narayan, R. K. (1972) The Ramayana.
Authors note: I chose to write this story in a third person style in order to provide more depth to the character Mareecha. It seemed as if he was forced to comply in the actual story and I wanted to provide more details as well as his cognitions moving forward. In my story I altered the animal that is pursued as well as Ravana's character -- I made him more of a deceiver in this retelling.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reading Diary B: Rama's Exile

1)      What envy was created by the sight of Rama in Soorpanaka! This was an all-consuming, incendiary, and bothersome envy. Also, Ravana fell under the same trance at the description of Rama’s wife, Sita.  It is almost unimaginable to think that someone could become so entranced by someone’s looks.

2)      How foolish of Rama to go against his intuition and attempt to please Sita. Because of an obligation to please his wife, he almost loses Sita to Ravana. He knew better than to be isolated by a fairytale-esque deer.

3)      What power Rama holds. Mareecha, recounting battles he had with Rama several years ago, feared to even tamper with the well-being of Rama. He (Mareecha) had been struck by such a powerful bow that it sent him a great distance out into the ocean. Being that my studies focus on the types of impulse/work/forces that would have happened to been imparted on Mareecha to send him such a distance is fascinating to ponder (I know, I’m a nerd)!

4)      Even with the counsel of someone who had come into contact with Rama on a few occasions and understood the power he possessed, Ravana was still stubborn enough to attempt to capture Sita. What control a figment of imagination can hold over someone. How foolish can someone be?

5)      What type of a battle will ensue when Rama finally encounters Ravana and attempts to recapture his wife? Ravana has already mentioned that he is not one for physical confrontation.
Source; Sita and Ravana; Author: Nina Paley;

Reading Diary A: Marvelous Rama

What stood out to me in this story was the character Rama. Chosen as an adolescent to battle spiritual powers, Rama was unequivocally special. After displaying his exceptional talent of using the crossbow, Rama decided to next make an attempt at marrying Sita, daughter of King Janaka. He succeeds in the test and is allowed to marry as prize. Immediately, Rama becomes a figure worthy of veneration. It amazes me at how quickly Rama rises to prominence following his achievements. Not only is Rama great on the battlefield, but he also displays great moral aptitude -- something that is quite uncommon in story today. It seems like the respect for moral code is paramount to Rama and his father and both of these are highly commendable. For example, after having been informed of the decision to strip him of his status as king AND to send him into to exile, Rama gracefully accepts his father’s decree and proceeds to leave.  I’m very excited to see just how the story unfolds after having come to know the quality of Rama’s character. Will he actually spend such an extended period in the wilderness or will there be a twist in the plot? Also, can Rama maintain the character that he has demonstrated thus far? Rama is adored by the inhabitants of the kingdom; will they accept the exile as gracefully as he did?

                                           Source; Rama: an exceptional man; Rama in battle.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Storybook Favorites

A Hermit's Tales of the Himalayas

I’m not at all familiar with the story being told. The title of the storybook immediately drew me in with the mention of the Himalayas. Next, the storybook kept me captivated through the dialogue included in the first few sentences. By beginning in the dialogue, I felt as though I  needed to continue reading in order to gain a better understanding of the plot. The images themselves were enough to capture my attention and the story was a proverbial ‘cherry on top.’ I enjoyed the overall layout of the page; being that I enjoy nature as well, I may very well create my storybook such that it includes images of the landscape.

The Ganges River

The title itself immediately carried me away into an imaginary ‘spiritual river,’ so, as one might expect -- I enjoyed their wording with the title. I appreciate the creativity by the author in explaining the significance of the Ganges to a Hindu. The author of this storybook, like any great author, opens up at a point in the story that urges the reader to continue on; I think I will attempt to incorporate this into my storybook. I did not like the colorful background included in this storybook as it seemed to distract me from the text.

Epics-India Travel Journal

The way in which the author of this storybook was able to reinterpret the story and add detail really appealed to me. Additionally, the idea of a ‘travel journal’ appealed to me as I enjoy traveling and adventure. The style of the storybook was not something I am fond of; it included too much text and few pictures of the amazing setting in which the story took place. Understanding the setting is just as important as understanding the story for me. And by not including images until the end, I was left wondering throughout the story.  

Image Information: Berggasthaus Aescher Hotel; Source

Epic Overview

This will be the first course that I have taken that centered around Indian culture. This will be the first class that is primarily concerned with this idea of “stories from stories;” with that being said, I am excited to see what all of this is about. I do look forward to reading these literary epics. I have not traveled to Asia, however, I think this class will provide great insight into some of the culture.
I am looking forward to reading about the setting in which some of these epics take place. I read a little about the forests, rivers, and mountains -- I think that will be an aside for me as I read the stories. Also, it seems that some quarreling leads to war. I find this interesting and I’m looking forward to understanding just as to why this occurred and why they resorted to war.

                                                      Source; a comforting hug; by Raja Ravi Varma

I chose this image because of the interaction in the image as well as the setting in which it took place -- both of which interest me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Introduction - A not so normal, normal life

My name is Lance Ramos. I grew up in Tulsa, OK and have lived there all of my life. However, I’m looking to move somewhere warmer upon graduation. I’ve fallen in love with the state of California primarily due to the fantastic weather, proximity to water, mountains, and national parks. I major in Health and Exercise Science (yes, I can help you workout). I plan to attend Physical Therapy school in the Summer and become a PT! I am also a McNair scholar; this entails doing research and presenting it at research conferences. I’ve had several great experiences through the McNair scholars program. For example, I had the chance to speak to the Associate Program Scientist for NASA about their exercise methods on the International Space Station. Additionally, I am a ‘Big’ for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Oklahoma -- a very fulfilling experience. I have a girlfriend of five years who is also an OU student. We both hope to become health care professionals. I enjoy playing racquetball, soccer, and most anything outdoors (i.e. fishing, hiking, swimming, cycling). Growing up, soccer was always a major part of my life -- I played for as many as 4 teams at one time.

Sooners at Griffith Park!

                               (Image information: personal photo taken in Los Angeles, CA;
photo taken July, 2014)

Unfortunately, I took a class over the winter break; as such, I read and wrote for approximately 4-7 hours each day. On the bright side, I’ll be graduating in May. As a matter of fact, I will be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university. I enjoy reading when I have free time. Sadly, college has dampered reading aspirations with all of the mandatory reading imposed on us by professors. I typically don’t watch television -- as I mention earlier, I’d prefer to be outside. I love listening to music; some of the genres I listen to are: Christian contemporary, classical, rock, country, nortenas (Spanish country), and bachata (Spanish dance music).

Storytelling- Week 1

Two boys of a tennis team groaned incessantly about the rigor of their training.

“It is too hot to play tennis today,” quipped one.

“I’m thirsty,” remarked two.

Meanwhile, two other boys – also members of the tennis team – worked tirelessly at perfecting their back hand shots.

“I’ll surely win my next match if I keep this up,” said three.

“No one will be able to return this serve,” shouted four.
                                        (Tennis court in Racice. Photographed by Jiri Sedlacek.)
                                                        Source: Wikimedia Commons

The boys happen to have traveled very different roads to make it where they are today. The first group’s families are well off and pretentious. The second group’s families are quite the opposite, they have very little but are thankful for their blessings.

Having taken a seat under a shade umbrella, boys one and two rest and drink a sports drink.

“I just want to go home and swim and eat ice cream,” said one.

“These new shoes that my father bought don’t seem to be helping my performance like the advertisement promised,” proclaimed two.

Meanwhile, three and four smash the ball back and forth in a heated match in order to prove who was the better of the two.

“I really think that we could win the national championship in doubles,” claims four as they pause between matches.

“I guess I’d play with you – you are all right,” three explained.

See, three and four work at age fourteen on weekday afternoons in order to pay for their tennis lessons and equipment; one and two? They watch television and ride dirt-bikes.

It is a seen as a gift to be able to play the sport that three and four so love.

One and two see it as an obligation set forth by their parents that was their demise.

Three and four realize that tennis afforded them the only opportunity to thrive.

Author’s note. This story is based on the fable titled “The oxen and the wheels.” The fable is out of the book The Aesop for Children by (anonymous), illustrated by Milo Winter (1919). The story involves two ox who pull a heavy wagon without complaint. Meanwhile, the two wheels of the wagon complain non-stop because they have to work. I thought about many children today who have so much and appreciate so little, so I adapted it to fit something they would likely do.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Yo-se-mite My Favorite Place

Hiking long after the trail ends leads you to
a place -- much like this -- where the true beauty of Yosemite can be appreciated.

(Image information: personal photo taken from Lower Yosemite Falls;
 photo from July 2014)

Sunday, January 11, 2015