by RABIA QAISER
Throughout our childhood we were groomed to believe that all stories start with Once Upon A Time and end with a Happily Ever After…But as you grow up you slowly begin to see that there is more depth, raw emotions, and real people behind some of the best stories. True Story Tents, sponsored by Talabat, is an initiative started by Abdullah Al Maawali since the beginning of 2018, providing a platform to storytellers willing to share gritty, happy, or life-changing experiences, in hopes of fostering empathy and deep rooted lessons.
Abdullah, a filmmaker by trait, started this on a whim, hoping to share some stories among his friends, without realizing the impact this type of a gathering could garner.
“While I was studying in the UK, I often listened to podcasts and wondered what stories would Arabs share, and how different would the narratives be.” He said this as he explained that the freedom to share in the UK was seamless and endless, but he often wondered the kinds of stories Arab’s would share as it’s not a very open society.
So from a small seed of an idea, he started this movement. In the beginning he self-funded the events, invited some of his friends, who then spread the words to strangers, and soon the word got out, and more and more people wanted to be part of this engagement. Now you can follow their Instagram @truestorytent to find out when and where the next event is taking place. The format of the event is pretty simple; a) anyone is welcome to share or listen, b) nature of the narrative is totally up to you, c) most importantly the story has to be about your personal experiences. “Whatever happens here it stays here. Try to listen with an open mind. If anyone does not want to be autographed or videoed, then we adhere to that. No live video. Nothing is published without their permission” Abdullah said.
“We’ve had people share raw stories, from their emotional battle with suicide, to mundane and silly, one of them involved getting mobbed on their road trip to Tijuana, Mexico, which was hilarious to the ears, we were all aching from laughter by the end of it” he added.
Abdullah expressed that the feedback he got from the conclusion of each events was greater than anything. As his initial motive behind creating this was for him to attend a storytelling event, and experience it. But it gave him and others a chance to conduct an active reflection of their past, as sometimes we pass by life and never stop to analyze it. This event allows people to get in a reflective mode and extract lessons from individuals coming from all walks of life. True Story Tents forces individuals to relive some of the suppressed emotions that they’ve tucked away in a box for years and take ownership of the events that influenced their journeys.
We all know that Millennials today get such a bad reputation as our openness and curiosity can sometimes be threatening, but in reality it makes us that much more powerful. Abdullah adds to that fact by explaining that the older generation of Arabs are harder to convince when it comes to sharing, but it’s strange because storytelling is a deeply engraved part of the Arab culture, which somehow we have forgotten along the way.