Monday, 6 February 2012

Limitless Dickens

If you were in London this week,youd be run over by Charles Dickens.Tomorrow,after all,is his 200th birth anniversary and the city is pulling out all stops to celebrate.Mumbai too is puckering up,whistles ready.A slew of Dickens events have been sponsored by the British Council to coincide with the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this week,and to get the party started tomorrow at David Sassoon Library Garden is British author and columnist Craig Taylor.
In a session called A Tale of Two Cities,Taylor will engage Dr Mitra Parikh,who heads the department of English at SNDT University,on the subject of a writers relationship with the city.They will also consider whether London may or may not have changed since Dickens time,as they explore two very different,but yet very similar cities.Dickens own life in industrial London and his reportage and novelizing of the social situation offer no new epiphanies to his readers.But those who have yet to be acquainted with Boz will find a handy primer in Picturing Dickens a set of seven films and TV shows based on his works;these include silent versions of Oliver Twist and brand new documentaries from Film London.Happy Birthday Charles!

Giving Peace A Chance

At the backdrop of Arab Spring,camping at Times Square in New York and the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption crusade in India,around half a dozen consul generals of different countries posted in the city recently debated on how to end the culture of violence and enter an era of peace.Organized by Islamic scholar Zeenat Shaukat Ali-headed Wisdom Foundation,the symposium saw the diplomats and scholars suggesting solutions to conflicts through dialogue and debate.American consul general Peter D Haas suggested more cooperation and collaboration between India and the US.Echoing Haas,Leopold-Theodor Heldman,consul general of Germany,said,Cooperation is the answer to all kinds of conflicts. M Hatimi Abas,consul general of Malaysia,reiterated his countrys commitment to practising moderate Islam.My country rejects religious extremism and is for tolerance and acceptance of the other, said Abas.Turkish journalist and writer Cemal Usak said that since terrorist groups want to keep their followers isolated so as to indoctrinate them,the proponents of violence must be engaged through dialogue.

For Young Book Lovers

The NCPAs newest initiative,one that will go down well with kids who enjoy a good read,is a book club that meets every third Wednesday of the month,at the Sunken Garden,from 5 pm to 6.30 pm.The club will do more than critique books;it intends to get young readers to engage with texts more imaginatively and intuitively through role-play,alternative imaginings of the plot,designing their own book jackets,coining back-of-the-book blurbs and partaking in other fun activities.The club,which is run by author Meher Marfatia and child psychologist Rupa Patel,is open to children aged 10 to 13.No doubt,theyll have the last word.

Taking Cover

We live in an era of outsourcingnotwithstanding President Obamas requests to try and stop.But the trickledown effect of this time-moneymanagement strategy can be seen in all quarters.Especially in the area of raising children.So basic teaching,which used to happen with an older sibling or a parent,is now outsourced to an expensive tuition professional;simple play is outsourced to a chess sir or a skating sir;and the latest is text books.Many years ago,the act of covering and labelling school books at the beginning of the school year was a time when the parents,the house help,and some unsuspecting cousin or friend,were all roped in.That crisp brown paper,followed by the clear plastic and the red-bordered labels,are something every family would be familiar with.But these days,this service is also offeredat Rs 5-15 per book,depending on the neighbourhood and the urgencyby the local kirana-wallah.Most children just drop off their hefty book bags and get them collected with all the books covered,stamped and sealed.Its like,dude,why budge when you can use the television remote.

(Contributed by Joeanna Rebello Fernandes,Mohammed
Wajihuddin and Namita
Devidayal.Compiled by
Rucha Biju Chitrodia)

TEXT AND THE CITY: Curious children look at a poster during the ongoing The Times of India Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

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