Saturday, May 07, 2005

Tea and Tagore

Well, Happy 144th Birthday, Rabindranath!

Raman - praise be he who makes book things happen - held a celebration today for Tagore's birthday at Silverfish.

Tagore is of course, India's greatest modern writer, and won the Noble prize for literature in 1913 with Gitanjali. He was incredibly versatile - not only poet but also short story writer, novelist, dramatist, essayist, painter, composer of songs and political activist too.

Singers from the Bengali Association performed a couple of Tagore songs; an elderly lady who had come up with her daughter from Seremban had actually met the poet when she was ten years old and read a poem in English and Bengali; Professor Quayum gave a talk about Tagore's life and work; and then there were further readings from Prof. Lim Chee Seng, poets Wong Pui Nam (in Mandarin) and Raja Ahmad Aminullah (in Malay). Tagore precious to all of them. (But where was Yasmin Ahmad who makes a point about the universal appeal of Tagore in Sepet? She was also going to read.)

It was a pleasant evening apart from the fact I sat on the floor and got a numb bum! Many friends there including Diana Cooper, Saras, Datuk Shan, Ioannis and met Sharanya Manivannan for the first time since she got back from India. Plentiful Pakoras and sweet jelebis to eat.

And for me a good introduction to Tagore. Knew his work mostly through the works of the various Indian writers (notably Vikram Seth). Now making a start on reading him and bought a book of thoughts and verses taken from a selection of his books:

Shall no doubt be peppering my pages here with his words of wisdom!

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