november 06 programmes


wednesday 1st November
6.30 - 8 pm The Attic Book Launch' 'Alma Kabutari' by Maitreyi Pushpa and 'Second Person Singular' by Udaya Narayana Singh
Organized by Katha Inauguration by renowned Hindi author Prof Namwar Singh.

Alma Kabutari
Maitreyi Pushpa

Translated from the Hindi by Raji Narasimhan

The saga of Alma Kabutari does not begin with Alma herself. It has its roots in centuries of social and sexual subjugation of the kabutaris by the upper-caste kajjas. Like Chittor's Rani Padmini of yore, from whom the kabutaris are descended, the onus of breaking the vicious circle and reclaiming human status for her people falls on young Alma. The engrossing story of young Alma's evolution from victim to survivor to tenacious rebel, Alma Kabutari opens a window to the suffering and exploitation of a tribe that teeters at the very fringes of society even today, and that urgently needs our concern and understanding.
Maitreyi Pushpa has written consistently about rural politics and has endeavoured to explore the web of human relationships in a time of moral ambivalence and social uncertainty. She is the recipient of many accolades including the SAARC Literary Award for Alma Kabutari, the Premchand Samman and the Sahityakar Samman.

Raji Narasimhan is a well-known writer and translator who lives in New Delhi.

Second Person Singular
Udaya Narayana Singh


Second Person Singular is the poetic expression of the epiphanic other-view of love and life that language presents to each individual. Udaya Narayana Singh's original Maithili poems in this translation present the strange counterpoints that one gets from an involvement with language. They bring out the dialectical texture of the silent spaces in human relationships.
Shot through with ardour for the art of poetry and an exploration of the many moods of love in an unmistakably Indian idiom, the poet's penchant for the miniature image and the powerful word endure in this volume.

Udaya Narayana Singh is a poet, playwright, translator and linguist. He writes both in Maithili (under the pseudonym 'Nachiketa') and Bengali. He has several colletions of poems and essays, and many plays to his credit. Currently, he is the Director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore.


tuesday 7th november
6.30 pm Lecture Room IIC Annexe 'City Makers and City Breakers' by Dunu Roy

The city of Delhi has been "made" many times, from the mythological times of the Pandavas, to the time of the "global world class" city. Each of the nine locations of the urban settlements has been associated with the rulers, the Chauhans, the Lodis, the Tughlaks or the Mughals, Lutyens or Jagmohan. These are the individuals and powers who supposedly made the Qutb Minar ,the Red Fort, India Gate, who made Vikas Minar, who created the Metro and, now, the Commonwealth Games. But what about the bricklayers and stonemasons, the pullers, loaders, nannies, drivers, the repairmen and saleswomen? What about the wastepickers, sweepers, delivery boys and tailoring girls, the factory workers and the artisans? Do they also not make the city? And what do they get in return? Slums with little water, erratic electricity, and no sanitation. Dismal education and health. Those who service the city get no services in exchange. And yet they are regarded as thieves and pickpockets, a burden on the city. Over them hangs the perpetual threat of "illegality" and "demolition". The real "makers" are confronted by the surreal "breakers". All in the name of environment and sports and tourism.
Dunu Roy talks this evening about the crimes that are being committed by the state against its most productive and most vulnerable citizens. About how the city is being sanitised and the poor made to disappear so that it becomes playground for the rich and beautiful. How much inhumanity and injustice are we going to accept in the name of progress?

Dunu Roy is the Director, Hazards Centre, a unit of the Sanchal Foundation, assisting urban and rural communities in research and action programmes related to shelter, livelihoods, services, and governance, and in the struggle for justice by the urban poor. He is also a consultant to multilateral and government agencies on resource management, environment, biodiversity and disaster preparedness in several States of India.


thursday 9th November
6.30 pm The Attic 'Wild Asia: At the Edge' (A wildlife documentary film)
Director: Alan D'arcy Erson Scientific & Field Advisors: Dr. R.S. Chundawat & Joanna Van Gruisen


Produced by Natural History New Zealand, 'At the Edge' was part of a 9-part TV series on Asian habitats and their denizens; this episode explores the extreme conditions of the high altitude transhimalayan region.

Set in the Rumbak valley in Ladakh, it presents a rich portrait of life and death at the vertical limit of mammalian life on Earth. The area harbours some of the world's hardiest creatures including bharal, Tibetan Wolf and, most elusive of all, the snow leopard.

The film tells the story of bharal reproduction and endurance, beginning with violent and spectacular mating on sheer cliffs and ending with the killing and eating of a bharal by the shadowy snow leopard. On the way, Wild Asia: At the Edge reveals an intimate, unique encounter with a breeding wild wolf family and the dramatic golden eagle harvest of a Himalayan marmot colony. The film's climax is an extensive encounter with wild snow leopard, the first time such detail had been captured on film.
Beautifully photographed across four seasons in a spectacularly bleak landscape. The film is a fascinating insight into the lives of the animals which dare to breathe the Himalaya's thin air. At The Edge has won many awards at international wildlife film festivals for its wonderful images, animal behaviour and low-impact filming.

Raghu Chundawat is a conservation biologist who has specialised in carnivores. He did his PhD on the ecology of the snow leopard and its prey species in Ladakh; he has conducted a survey of the wolf in the plains of India and he has just completed a unique ten-year study on the ecology of the tiger in a dry forest of Madhya Pradesh. For ten years he was a member of the teaching faculty of the Wildlife Institute of India and now works independently through a small NGO 'Baavan' bagh, aap aur van,'

Joanna Van Gruisen
was born in the UK but has lived in the subcontinent for over 25 years. She is a wildlife photographer, writer and conservationist and has lived in many of India's most beautiful wild areas, including three years in the Ladakh region. She has made and worked on films on various wild topics in Sri Lanka, Assam, J & K and Rajasthan. Her photographs are published in many magazines and books both in India and abroad and she was the editor of TigerLink News for several years.

Raghu Chundawat and Joanna Van Gruisen who introduced the film crew to the Rumbak area and guided them through the shoot, will be present to answer questions on the filming and on the wildlife of the high altitude desert.


sunday 12th November
10 am to 12 pm The Attic Buddhist talk: 'Enlightenment through the practice of the four incommensurables'
by Chamtrul Rinpoche (with Tibetan - English interpreter)

Amitabha the Buddha
of Limitless Light

Incommensurable, in rational numbers is a quantity that has no common measure with another. In common speech it is the practice of comparing apples to pears so as to exaggerate differences rather than similarities. In philosophy a structural reconciliation of incommensurables occurs in O'henry's famous story about the Christmas gift. The husband secretly sells his watch in order to buy his wife a comb for her beautiful hair, while she cuts and sells her hair in order to buy her husband a watch. This is a win-win condition only insofar as the couple is capable of recognizing that their situation embodies the epitomy of love - mutual surrender. In Buddhism Rinpoche explains how one can train ones mind through the practice of four incommensurables.


12 November is the waning of the crescent moon in the Tibetan lunar calendar. It is Lha Bab Duechen : Buddha Shakyamuni's descent from heaven. A very auspicious day in which positive or negative actions are multiplied 10 million times.

Rinpoche has been recognized as the reincarnation of the 3rd Chamtrul Rinpoche, one of the heads of the Tashi Choling monastery in Eastern Tibet. He acquired his education in Tibetan Buddhism in Serta Larhong one of the major monastic universities. After receiving the title of 'Khenpo' (Doctor in Buddhist Philosophy) from his root Teacher Kyabje Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, he returned to his monastery, where he assumed the function of Abbot and created a 'Shedra' ' Institute of Buddhist Higher Studies.

For seven years, Rinpoche taught Buddhist Philosophy in Tibet. During the last eight years, he has been teaching Dharma in India to thousands of students from all over the world; he is currently residing in Dharamsala.


monday 13th november
6.30 pm The Attic "The Kargil War" an illustrated talk by Gen. Lakhwinder Singh
(in collaboration with Culture Club Panchsheel Enclave)

Bofors Gun at Tiger Hill

The kargil war was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir. The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control, which serves as the de facto border between the two nations. The fighting between the insurgents and Pakistani paramilitary forces and The Indian Army, supported by the Air Force in high altitude terrain led to a Pakistani withdrawal by a combination of military defeat and international diplomatic pressure.

Much of the Indian operation revolved around the recapture of Tiger Hill, which witnessed fierce hand to hand combat and the use of Bofors Gun at Tiger Hill about 250 artillery guns. The commander of the Indian artillery at Tiger Hill was Brig. (now General) Lakhwinder Singh. He will talk to us this evening about the fighting on Tiger Hill, the other areas infiltrated and occupied by the Pakistani forces (Batalic, Dras), fighting wars at high altitudes and other fascinating insights of the war in a first person account very rarely given by military officers. No official secrets will be discussed and no press will be permitted to this talk.

Gen. Lakhwinder Singh is an officer of the Indian Artillery. A graduate of the National Defence Academy commissioned in 1967 he fought in the 1971 war on the western front (which wasn't all that quiet) at Dera Baba Nanak. He is known for his 'out of the box' thinking and daring exploits that came to the fore in Kargil, where his unusual use of artillery forced the enemy to withdraw. He was awarded the Yudhseva medal and even complimented by a Pakistani General for his unconventional use of artillery.


friday 17th november
6.30 pm The Attic 'Conversation' on Art
Neena Nehru - Artist,    Peter Nagy - Nature Morte Gallery owner
Kavita Singh - Professor of art history,    Gayatri Sinha - Curator and critic

Neena Nehru writes 'My early work was strongly inspired by Marxist ideas and social concerns; while I am no longer a Marxist, I still express my personal ideas and concerns through the medium of visual art.'

The subject of the discussion this evening will be a quote from 'Marxism and Art - An introduction to Trotsky's writings on art' by Alan Woods.

'The chief weakness of bourgeois aesthetics is that it rejects a priori the social influences that shape the development of art. Thus, the development of art is reduced to an essentially personal, i.e., psychological phenomenon…. In fact, the idea that somehow art can stand outside or above society is a self-evident contradiction. Although art, literature and music have their own laws of development which cannot be reduced to those of economics or sociology, they are also not separated from society by a Chinese Wall. Art is, after all, a form of communication…, Despite all the prejudices about the lonely artist communicating with himself, in practice, no artist paints a picture that he does not intend to be seen, and no writer writes a novel or poem just for their personal consumption. And in order for art or literature to act as communication, it must have something to say. Art links the particular to the universal. The characters of a novel must be concrete, they must bear a sufficient resemblance to real men and women to be believable. But this is not sufficient. In order that these characters be interesting to us, they must stand for something more than just themselves.'

Peter Nagy is an artist, curator and the director of Gallery Nature Morte in New Delhi, which was established in 1997. He is originally from New York and has been living in India since 1992.

Kavita Singh is Associate Professor of Art History at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at JNU. She has been Research Editor of the arts journal, Marg, and Guest Curator at the San Diego Museum of Art where she curated 'Power and Desire'.

Gayatri Sinha is an independent curator and art critic an author of Expressions and Evocations ' Contemporary Indian Women Artists and Krishen Khanna A Critical Biography. Her work as a curator includes work for the National Gallery of Modern Art. She is currently co curator for the exhibition of photographs at the Frankfurt Book fair. She has lectured widely on Indian art around the world. She writes a weekly column on visual culture and art for The Hindu.

Neena Nehru trained as an architect in London. She is a self taught artist and started painting seriously only after returning to India in 1974. She has been part of both solo and group shows and is preparing for her next exhibition which will be on a Feminist theme.


saturday 18th november
6.30 pm The Attic Dance Festival 'To be in the world, but not of it'

This dance festival spread over four months will feature 8 dancers using this Sufi saying as explained broadly by Robert Graves - 'The natural Sufi may be as common in the West as in the East, and may come dressed as a general, a merchant, a lawyer, a schoolmaster, a housewife, anything. To be - in the world, but not of it, 'free from ambition, greed, intellectual pride, blind obedience to custom, or awe of persons higher in rank; that is the Sufi ideal' For the purposes of this festival and for Indian classical dance, in particular, the dancers who have been trained in different styles in the classical dance tradition and therefore being 'in' it will interpret their forms, whether in music, costume, literary background, style or gesture as being not entirely 'of' it
Odissi Dance by Radhika Jha

Three great Gurus of the early 1950's formalized what we know as Odissi today. Based on ancient literary texts, medieval temple sculpture and the surviving Mahari tradition, these Gurus recreated this great classical tradition. However not all the gurus teaching Odissi agreed with or followed this style.

Radhiks is a student of Guru Surendranath Jena who taught at Triveni Kala Sangam in Delhi for about 30 years.. Guru Jena's choreography departs from the tradition transforming the poses of Odissi into sequences of movements rather than using them as full stops. At the same time he meshes bhav (emotion) and bhangi (body movement). This form is slower and requires an extraordinary degree of balance and control expressing the philosophy that movement is not abstract, it is born out of and gives form to human emotion.
Radhika is the daughter of the late Usha Chettur, the first disciple of Guru Surendranath Jena
(Radhika being the last before he retired). She has also studied Hindustani classical vocal music under Uday Debanshi of Kolkata and the pakhavaj with Shashi Shekhar Dass. She is the author of two books 'Smell' and 'The Elephant and the Maruti" a book of short stories. She has performed in Europe, the US and in India.


thursday 23rd november
6.30 pm The Attic 'Impressionism and Music' a talk by Punita Singh

'Lady at the Piano'
ByRenoir

Throughout history, art and music have developed in parallel with each other. Impressionism in art began in France near the end of the 19th century. It freed painting from the bounds of strong lines and literal representation, seeking instead to "suggest" scenes from everyday life using patches of colour, fuzzy textures, visible brushstrokes and plays of light. The capturing of mood and transience epitomized in the paintings of Monet, Manet, Degas, Morissot, Pissarro and Renoir, found parallels in literature and music as well.

Much in the same way, musical Impressionism aims to create descriptive impressions, rather than draw well-defined sonic structures. The music is not designed to explicitly describe anything, but rather to create a mood or atmosphere. This is done through almost every aspect of music melody, harmony, color, rhythm, and form. Melodies tend to be short in nature, often repeated in different contexts to give different moods.

In this talk, Dr Punita Singh will focus on the musical legacy of Impressionism. The use of multi tonality, chord complexes, alternative melodic scales and modes and 'exotic' rhythms and orchestration to create the mood, atmosphere, imagery and impression in sound will be illustrated by examples from the works of Debussy, Ravel and other composers. The context in which musical Impressionism developed and the trajectories that branched off as reactions to it will be discussed and contrastive examples presented.
Punita is a musicologist, linguist, psychoacoustician, editor and educator based in New Delhi. Special areas of interest and expertise include Christian sacred music, music of the Renaissance, twentieth-century music, Flamenco and contrastive aspects of Indian and Western classical music.


tuesday 28th november
6.30 pm Lecture Room IIC Annex 'Delhi's Kots and Sarais - history as reflected in toponymy' by Narayani Gupta

Turkman Gate

A quick way of deriving political clout is by naming or renaming places 'thus Alipur Road becomes Shamnath Marg and Connaught Place is Rajiv Chowk. There is a real danger of Delhi becoming a chain of Nehru Nagars and Stadii, and of Veer Savarkar Margs.

And at every point a little bit of history disappears. Place-names (toponymy) have a meaning in the language and in local history. The music of a name becomes part of the cultural fabric of the city. The talk this evening is an account of the way Delhi has been seen in the past and in the present - how each generation constructed a Delhi of the imagination, which became part of the historical memory of the city. Narayani attempts to recreate some aspects of Delhi's history as reflected in its toponymy, and we hope that Dilliwalas will share a sense of concern about the erasing of their city's history.

Narayani Gupta taught history at Indraprastha College and at Jamia Millia Islamia. She was a founder member of the Conservation Society of Delhi and is at present a consultant with INTACH. She is the author of "Delhi between two Empires" (OUP 1990) co authored " Beato's Delhi'' and has been an advisor for "Delhi: the Built Heritage:a Listing"( Intach 1999).