Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why don’t literature students read any real literature before college?

There was an article with the title above, published some time ago.

It provoked the following:

My first Lecturer in English at university was someone who had just returned to India after completing his studies at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar - Dr Brijraj Singh.

As a result of the first tutorial essay that a fellow-student and I turned in (tutorials in those days had two students to one teacher), he discovered that neither my colleague nor I knew anything about the foundations of English Literature, which are the Bible and the Greek Classics.

So guess our first reading assignments, which we had to complete in a week each.

Dr Singh went on to become also a Fulbright Scholar.

A great man and an inspiring teacher, without whose instruction I would still be much more of an ignoramus than I am.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The history of Indian dance, Nartanam magazine, and the doyen of Indian dance critics

The doyen of Indian dance critics, Reginald Massey FRSA, is (among others) in a photograph from 1954 which graces the cover of the current issue of NARTANAM, India's premier dance publication.

In the Mughal rose garden, Reginald Massey sits cross-legged on the lawn, looking at the President.

Then an undergrad, he was invited to the Festival which was held when Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the Education Minister.

The President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, a Sanskrit and Persian scholar, invited the participants to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace high on Raisina Hill.

Reginald writes:

"It was at this Festival that Odissi classical dance was discovered when a student (Priyambada Mohanty from Orissa) danced in Delhi for the very first time.

"Later, celebrated dancers such as the beautiful Indrani Rehman made Odissi famous.

The National Resource Centre of Dance, which has my dance archives, might be interested in this piece of history."

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Monday, January 26, 2015

A friend nursing his wife suffering from cancer (and, foreseeably, bar a miracle, dying soon), writes most movingly

He writes he's praying that his wife 'embraces this phase of her life with peace and assurance, and looks forward to a more splendid journey like Stephen's "Behold I see the Son of Man...", or like Bilbo Baggins "I think I'm quite ready for another adventure" as he boards the ship to Undying Lands, or the valiant and indefatigable Reepicheep the Chief Mouse in Narnia where he sets out in joy and faith for the "utter East," a land “where the sky and water meet, where the waves grow sweet," Aslan's country'.

He goes on to say, 'My heart aches and rejoices at the same time. Each time I look at her sweet face whether asleep or awake, I cannot let go. But as I ponder how cancer has brought down a sweet spirit, I ask God to take and restore her "in the fullness of time."'

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Friday, January 09, 2015

Poem: "'Well Done!', she said"

“Well done!”, she said to him,

Echoing a man

Much greater than herself,

Knowing naught of either

Sweat or agony

Or will of steel

Or doubts or fears.

“When all is done”, he said,

Echoing a man

Much greater than himself,

“There’s little done, and what

Is done, is done but

Poorly - or if

It be done well,

It lasts such little time”.

“There is a man, I’m told”,

She said, “much greater

Than ourselves, who took a

Loaf, a fish, or just some

Mud, or even spit;

Whose touch transforms,

Makes whole, gives sight.

Don’t look! Don't look!!

Each frog’s a prince.”

Prabhu Guptara

9 January 2015

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