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Posted at: Feb 10, 2016, 1:19 AM; last updated: Feb 10, 2016, 1:10 AM (IST)

Vision beyond sight

Turning his challenges into opportunities, Giles Abbott is happy travelling around the world with his stories
Vision beyond sight


Life deals the cards and you have to play with what you have! When Oxford graduate Giles Abbott started to lose his vision at 25, he was in grief. But with disability, also came a great freedom — to do whatever he wanted to! A chance presence at a story-telling session at a pub in North Yorkshire, he met the love of his life and also what was to be his vocation.

Giles can barely see, for him the whole world has turned into this impressionistic painting where he can see some colour, shape and form but no details. Armed with a telescope that he wears around his neck, he is a touring storyteller who carries along a wealth of knowledge that he shares in his narrations. 

Giles' journey in the story world started with his mother reading to him translations of Iliad and Odyssey, when he was barely five. He admits getting 'lost' in that vast vision; once at school, literature took him closer to Greek, Celtic and many more traditions. Love for literature continued in Oxford when his sight went bad, but armed with a partner (herself a dyslexic), the duo took on the challenge to make life worth living. "I couldn't read for close to 13 years," shares Giles. But today with technology he has access to almost everything that is written. Impressed by the storytellers at that North Yorkshire pub, he began to tell stories that got him a standing ovation. And there started a search if he could make a career out of it. "To be earning your own living is not easy for a disabled person," says the man who took up voice training, inspired by a story of voice-trainer who was blind.

While, initially, he made stories of whatever he remembered of having read or listened to and also jokes, "All jokes are stories, not all stories are funny," he says. Now he does  thorough research. He has done narratives on Richard Francis Burton, AO Hume, both British, who spent considerable time in India under British Raj; next he is out to make a story out of famous poet Alexander Pope's life and writings. 

That's not all; Giles also trains professionals into effective communication in a very interesting manner in the Academy of Oratory along with his colleague. For example, he trained this accountant into the story structure of Beowulf and Dracula that can be used in the presentations. "Finding the monster is a very effective story structure in transmitting bad news and accountants often have to give the bad news.” On his maiden Indian trip, Giles is overwhelmed by the rich culture, heritage and music the country offers. Though he has worked with Indians before, like Gujarati third- generation kids in whom he instilled pride about their roots through stories. "If you want to achieve something difficult, increase your necessity," Giles quotes from Sufi tradition. "You can win with a bad hand you know," he smiles… Giles Abbott's storytelling performance is scheduled for Feb 10, 5.00 pm - 6:00 pm at British Council, Elante.


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