august 06 programmes
Sobha Singh Memorial Lectures on Delhi
Sobha Singh was a 22 year old contractor working
on the Kalka-Simla railroad when he visited Delhi
in 1911. He was present at the Delhi Darbar at which
King George V declared that the capital of British
India would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. He
saw his opportunity and took it.
"Rarely was a man so identified with the birth
of a city as Sir Sobha Singh was with New Delhi,
translating into sand stone and marble most of the
imperial blueprints of Lutyens and Baker. Few builders
in the world have left behind as tributes to their
genius such an imposing list of edifices encompassing
most of the colonial face of Delhi as he has done.
"This series of lectures and events encompasses
many facets of the life of Delhi- its history, architecture,
cuisine, music, environment, and the arts. We welcome
you to these events co-sponsored by The Attic, India
International Center and The Indian National Trust
for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
tuesday 1st august
6.30 pm 'IIC Main Auditorium'
"My Father, the Builder" By Khushwant Singh
first in this series of lectures is by Sobha Singh's
most famous son. Khushwant Singh has written about
every topic under the sun - the sex life of Delhi,
his favourite women, Sikh history, Indian politics,
humour including the best Sikh jokes in seven volumes
and some forgettable comments on Rabindranath Tagore
and Sanjay Gandhi.
talks for the first time today about his father
whose life was so linked with the building of Imperial
Delhi. How a boy educated up to class five, feeling
the lack of his education, studied English and many
other subjects with a Maharashtrian tutor for two
hours every evening after dinner for 15 years. How
titles and honors were bestowed on him due to his
enterprise skill, ability and integrity and how
the best in the land, Viceroys, Generals, architects,
bureaucrats, nationalists and politicians dined
at his table. Khushwant Singh delves into family
archives and talks not only about his father but
about a fascinating slice of early 20th century
British history peopled by a host of colourful characters,
Lutyens, Baker, Walter George and Lady Willingdon.
The enterprising Sindhi and Sikh contractors Lachman
Das (who built Parliament House), Narain Singh (ancestor
of the Imperial Hotel), Dharam Singh (stone &
marble), Basakha Singh (North Block), and the skilled
and unskilled craftspeople from Punjab & Rajasthan.
7.00 pm' "n
Transit" a Post-Modern Examination of Relationships,
Religion, and Redemption through Music, Poetry,
Transit takes its title from the Sufi metaphor of
life as a journey. The protagonist, a poet named
Hussein Ibrahim Dawood - last descendant of the
Mughal Empire and steadfast bastion of Old Delhi
culture - must reconcile himself both to his failures
in life and to a shining India. Along the way, he
must navigate through art, aesthetics, existentialism,
women, and religion. Co-written and co-directed
by Murad Ali and Neil Aggarwal, the script exemplifies
the kichdri language of modern India. Primarily
in Urdu verse, but with healthy doses of English
and Punjabi, the performance transcends barriers
by wedding poetry with politics, verse and music,
and recitation and drama to deliver a post-modern
tale through a post-modern medium.
Murad Ali is known as a photographer, poet, actor
and a young film maker. He has exhibited his photographs
in Delhi, recited Urdu poetry with Tom Alter at
The Attic and has acted in over 10 films including
the recently released 'Kal'. He has also made a
film 'The Buddha of Badamtam' and is making another
one on Nizamuddin village titled 'Noor'.
Neil Aggarwal is a student of religion and anthropology
at Harvard University. He has graduated from medical
school and will be practicing psychiatry and medical
anthropology. He has formally studied Arabic, Persian
7.00 pm 'Literary
Creativity: Visions and Concerns'
talk by Ajeet Cour
the elite English speaking and reading world of
Indian literature 'bhasa' writing does not figure
at all except for better known Bangla, Tamil and
Hindi translations. Punjab is largely associated
with 'bhangra' and 'agriculture'. Ajeet Cour was
not a name known to this elite till the publication
of her moving memoir Pebbles in a Tin Drum. This
courageous and frank autobiography witnesses the
displacement and trauma of partition, the finding
and losing of a soulmate, an abusive marriage, life
as a single mother of two daughters one of whom
died tragically and the anti Sikh riots of 1984.
Cour's daughter Arpana inaugurated the Attic with
a wonderful slide-show and talk of her paintings
and exactly one year later Ajeet, will speak about
creativity, Indian values, literature, specifically
Punjabi and other bhasa literatures. She is an activist
observer, a fierce crusading spirit with a passion
for giving voice to the underprivileged and like
her friends and admirers Khushwant Singh and V.P.
Singh is unafraid of speaking her mind on any subject
of concern - social, personal or political.
She was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1986,
and Padmashri in 2006; and is the recipient of numerous
other awards. She is the Chairperson of Academy
of Fine Arts and Literature, a unique cultural centre
of Delhi with its multifarious activities and social
concerns, including empowerment of women living
in the slums.
She is also the Founder President of 'Foundation
of SAARC Writers and Literature' and Editor of its
journal 'Beyond Borders', as well as Editor of the
first ever Directory of Indian Women (1975). She
is a leading figure in Punjabi literature with 19
collections of short stories and novels, travelogue,
2 volumes of memoirs, 2 research monographs documenting
Punjabi literature in the Encyclopedia of Indian
Literature and various translations and trans-creations.
7.00 pm Illustrated
Talk 'Kailash Manasarovar - a personal quest' by Sunil
Kailash (22,000 ft, 6700 mts) the famed snow shrouded
holy peak is the Northern Himalayan barrier in Tibet.
It is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for
Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and the pre-Buddhist Bonpos.
It draws pilgrims and trekkers from India, Nepal,
Mongolia, Japan, China and South East Asia. The
slopes of Kailash drain water into the Manasarovar
Lake considered to be the highest freshwater lake
in the world (4585 mts). The area gives birth to
four great rivers - the Brahmaputra, the Indus,
the Sutlej and the Karnali.
May through September the Ministry of External affairs
organizes the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra where 16
batches of 30 to 40 people undertake this 30 day
pilgrimage at weekly intervals. Besides being a
test of personal stamina and determination, the
yatra is an opportunity to experience the social
diversity of India and to witness the exquisite
natural beauty of the Himalayas and Tibet.
Sunil Nehru is a retired corporate manager who fulfilled
a long-cherished desire to undertake this Yatra
in June-July 2005, taking the arduous trekking route
along the valley of the Kali Ganga and across the
Lipulekh Pass (16700 ft) into Tibet, in preference
to the easier land-cruiser route from Nepal. He
will share his very personal experience of the yatra
through a 90 minute talk illustrated with slides.
6.30 pm IIC Annex
'Discovering the Ancient in Modern Delhi' by Upinder
Dilli-wallahs visualize their city extending from
somewhere near the Qutb Minar to somewhere beyond
the Red Fort and recollect a vague connection between
ancient Indraprastha and the Purana Qila. The more
discerning might recall the famous iron pillar in
Mehrauli or remember reading about the legendary
seven cities of Delhi.
But Delhi from the stone age to the times of the
Rajputs stretches much further than one can imagine.
From an-open air shrine in the village of Tilpat
to an inconspicuous mound in the village of Sihi
and from stone implements in the area of Delhi University
to the layers of civilizations revealed in archaeological
digs at the Purana Qila in search of the ancient
city of the Pandavas.
In the second of the Sir Sobha Singh Memorial Lectures
on Delhi, Upinder Singh will take you on an illustrated,
whirlwind tour of Delhi and will show you how ancient
remains have a habit of turning up at the oddest
places - at popular picnic spots, in farmer's fields,
in people's courtyards and in small remote village
shrines. She will tell you one of the many stories
of how 'Dilli' got its name and how the ancient,
medieval and modern rub shoulders in Delhi's landscape.
How broken sculptures of Ganesha and Vishnu are
worshipped in goddess shrines in villages in and
around Delhi. How an ancient iron pillar came to
stand in the courtyard of a medieval mosque, why
a medieval Sultan invested so much time and money
in hauling two Ashokan pillars from Haryana to adorn
his palace and hunting lodge and how these pillars
got involved in a still continuing worship of jinns
Upinder Singh taught Ancient Indian History for
many years in St. Stephens College and now teaches
in the History Department of Delhi University. She
travels to remote sites and has an eclectic interest
in many subjects ranging from the ancient history
of Orissa to the evolution of Buddhist sites, from
ways of understanding the inscriptions of Ashoka
to explaining the early cults and shrines of Mathura.
She is the author of Kings, Brahmanas & Temples
in Orissa (1994), Ancient Delhi (1999), a children's
book, Mysteries of the Past: Archaeological Sites
in India (2002), and The Discovery of Ancient India:
Early Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology
7.00 pm 'Viraha' Hindustani
Classical Music in 'Khayal' by Priya Kanungo
is a sense of the void stemming from an unslaked
longing, an unfulfilled desire, a pining for the
beloved or the divine. Khayal is the most popular
form of North Indian classical music today. It has
more freedom than Dhrupad and is filled with delicate
embellishments and romantic expressions. Occasionally
the text of a song may become just a melodic vehicle
and a technique for expressing the various rasas
(emotions) in Khayal singing. Priya begins her recital
with raga, Bihag and continues with Raga Des, the
lyrics describing the beauty of the monsoon and
lamenting the fact that the beloved hasn't come
home. She concludes with a Meera bhajan in praise
of Lord Krishna.
Priya Kanungo's training in music started from childhood
under the guidance of Shri Brijinder Singh in Delhi
and Pandit Damodar Hota in Orissa. She continued
her music training under Shri Ratan Chand Sharma,
and was also privileged to be a student of Pandit
Amarnath of the Indore gharana. She also briefly
received musical guidance from Shrimati Shubha Mudgal
and is currently a student of Pandit Deepak Chatterjee.
Priya has an M.A., M. Phil. and Ph. D in Hindustani
Vocal Music from the Delhi University. She was also
awarded the National Talent Scholarship in music
by the Department of Culture, Government of India.