Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bangla nursery rhymes, Poe, and a children's film festival

Reconstructing a week's worth of outings... feeling wonderfully included in the happenings that the folks in my department know about. also Sabreena is a neighbor, and offers me a ride back at night, immensely widening my horizons. I'm so grateful!

Last Saturday the British Council was the venue for a talk "Bangla Nursery Rhymes: An International Perpspective" by Prof. Afia Dil.

She spoke about Bengali culture as an amalgamation of cultures and noted that the Benagli face is the most beautiful in the world since it is a combination of all faces! This mixture of cultures is revealed in the nursery rhymes. She talked about the role of nursery rhymes in teaching language and said that every fruit, flower, and color is included in a Bengali rhyme. However, in too many rhymes, the girls are still debased, as she said, though that is changing. Other changes include cultural changes, political changes and a reflection of communal identities. One example that particularly spoke to me was her explanation of the lack of the word "thank you" (there is a word, but not used often). The expression is more facial acknowledgement, but actually not using the word is explained by "thank you" being inadequate. That would conclude the transaction and, in fact, mean you were even. More often, not having thanks at the end means quite frankly, yes, you are still beholden and, no, two words will not do it! The discussion was primarily in Bangla so I did not follow it (though Sabreena helped keep me from being completely lost!). One interesting issue was the idea of natural calamaties as part of a philosophical approach, but I did not understand if there were rhymes that reflect this. One universal aspect of the rhymes is the moon, obviously seen all over the world. She suggests that its change, renewal, newness, is something that, yes, we see in our children. They are always new.

On the panel: Prof. Shamshad Murtaza (he studied at Arizona around the same time I was there), Prof. Firdous Azim (my dept head at BRAC), Prof. Afia Dil and Prof. Wahil Ahmed.

(in the middle of this week, we also went to a lecture at IUB about Edgar Allan Poe)

And then Thursday night a group of students and faculty went to the children's film festival. Piled into cars, getting through lots of traffic, (now I understand better why Matan's cello teacher finds it difficult to get to our house -- it's probably 2 hours each way during the afternoon and evening), and finally getting to Alliance Francaise.

Tapan Sinha (1924 - 2009) directed the film we saw. "Golpo Holo Satti is a satirical film on how a heaven-sent servant (played by Robi Ghosh) brings order and peace to a quarreling disorganised family. Bhanu Banerji and some lesser-known actors (with the exceptions of Bharati and Chaya Devi) comprise the cast. This was remade in Hindi by Hrishikesh Mukherji as Bawarchi, with Rajesh Khanna in the lead role" (Wikipedia).

I wish I had the names for everyone in this picture. For the most part, the faculty are behind the students...

We also tried to get to a poetry reading after the movie. If the movie ended at 6:30pm and the reading was at 7:30 pm and the distance was probably 5 miles? no, by 8pm we were apparently not even near yet. so we gave up and came home. Could have been interesting: an Italian professor reading Urdu poetry in which language? I never know if I'm going to understand or not. Fortunately the movie had subtitles in English. YEA!

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