Learn how to a good “story catcher”

1 Step 1:

There are two ways in which you could use the Story Catcher:
Pick three of the following themes and go to the Questions section and adapt them to your theme:

  • Family life
  • Festivals and rituals
  • Street food in your locality
  • School life
  • Water
  • Poets/Novelists I read or books I read
  • Trees in my neighbourhood
  • Games we played as children
  • Listening to the Radio
  • Movies of my youth
  • Family holidays
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Using computers
  • Village life
  • Life in the farm
  • New technologies
  • Marriages
  • Songs we used to sing
  • Transport
  • War stories
  • Indian Independence
  • Memories of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Partition stories
  • The Emergency
  • The making of new states after Independence

If you already know a story that your family elder has and wish to record it, then you need to go straight to the life story questions in the question section.
Restrictions applicable to the interview

2 Step 2

Whether you have chosen three themes or have decided to record a story of your family member you will need to begin your interview by recording a few biographical details. This life story approach would also enable your interviewee to be at ease with you.

  • When and where were you born?
  • Who were you named after?
  • Have you heard any stories about the circumstances of your birth? (in hospital or at home with midwife)
  • What did your father/mother do for a living?
  • Do you have siblings? What kind of relationship did you have with them when you were a child?
  • Who else was part of the family?
  • What do you remember about your grandparents?
  • What are your earliest memories as a child?
  • As a child, what responsibilities or chores did you have around the house?
  • Tell me about your family now

3 Step 3

If you have decided to record a story of your family member that you already know about, you can begin to record it. You could cue your family member to tell his or her story.
If you have chosen three themes, then go to Step 5.

4 Step 4

Here is a list of sample questions you could adapt to the themes you have chosen. Study the Question Section carefully and adapt these questions to your themes. We would encourage you to reframe and rearrange the questions according to your needyou’re your comfort level with the interviewee. You might also get a story or two about different themes as you go along.

Question Section

  • Childhood and Early Life
  • Describe the neighbourhood where you grew up.
  • Where did you go to school?
  • How did you commute every day?
  • What would you wear to school? Would others wear similar clothes?
  • What was the most memorable part of going to school?
  • What were the subjects taught in class?
  • Do you remember any particular teacher?
  • Who would help you with homework at home?
  • What kind of games did you play? Did you enjoy any particular sport?
  • What were the religious traditions followed at home?
  • How did you celebrate festivals?
  • What kind of food would you eat then?
  • Who prepared the food?
  • Is there any particular food or drink that you miss having now?

Adulthood

  • What did you want to become when you grew up?
  • What did you do after finishing school?
  • Where did you go to college?
  • What did you study and why did you choose that?
  • What did your parents think about your choice?
  • How different was college from school life?
  • What is the most memorable part of your college life?
  • When did you finish studies and start working?
  • Where was your first job?
  • Is this what you always wanted to do in life? Or did you have a different plan for yourself?
  • Do you remember your first day at work? What were your colleagues like?
  • Can you describe the space where you worked?
  • What did you do in the evening or at free time? (Movies/theatres/family visits/sports/other recreational activities that they may have had then)
  • Did you change jobs after that?
  • Where did you go and what did you do?

Present life

  • Describe the members of your family now and your relationships with them.
  • How and when did you meet your wife/husband?

Historical Events

  • How old were you when India became independent?
  • What do you remember of the time?
  • Do you remember Gandhi’s death?
  • Were you aware of the politics of the time when you were in college?
  • Did you associate with the ideology of any particular political party?
  • Do you remember meeting any political leaders, sports stars or eminent personalities?
  • Do you remember the time Nehru died?
  • What is the most disturbing event in your time?
  • Have you faced any natural disasters during your lifetime? What happened and how did that affect your life?
  • How did you get to know about the news of man setting foot on the moon for the first time?

Technology

  • Do you listen to the radio now? What are your first memories of listening to the radio?
  • When did you first get a television set at home?
  • What would you watch on TV then?
  • Did you have a telephone at home then?
  • When were you introduced to computers and email?

Reflections

  • When you look back at your life, what do you think are the most defining moments?
  • If you could go back in time, would you want to change anything or do anything differently?
  • How has life changed for you in terms of what you eat, what you wear and the way you communicate with people?
  • Describe your greatest joy during your lifetime.
  • Is there anything else that you want to say about your life that we haven’t talked about?