Gorakhpur: A City That Showed Israeli Students Ideal Merger Of Cultural And Literary Values (Photo Feature)
Journeys, whether long or short, always teach you something. For writers like us they are the best means to rise above writer’s block. Last month I happened to visit Gorakhpur, situated in underdeveloped eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, to attend a seminar organized by Aavartan Magazine devoted to quality research pertaining to social and environmental concerns. This research journal in the past has published excellent papers which have revealed lesser known facets of critical issues. This time Aavratan organized a seminar in coordination with Deen Dayal Upadhyay University situated in Gorakhpur. The seminar was dedicated to promotion of Hindi- the official language of India. The star attraction of the event was the presidential speech by Dr. Genadi Shlomper, who happened to be Hindi Instructor at East Asia Department, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
It was a pretty interesting experience to hear from Dr.Genadi about his involvement with Hindi during formative years of his career. His insights proved to be an eye-opener for huge crowd which had gathered there to listen a foreign visitor throwing light on worth of dealing in Hindi! After all, despite constitutional obligations Hindi has failed to get status of national language. Even in routine life of an average Indian enjoying upper middle class stature Hindi enjoys position of illegitimate wife! Indians have beaten Englishmen in exhibiting their love for Victorian ideals and, of course, for English. Besides Dr. Genady, listeners also had a wonderful opportunity to hear Israeli students pursuing Hindi language course at Tel Aviv University. Offir Mizrahi, Tal Gorsky, Matan Massika, Yakir Dahari, Alexandra Fer and Adi Fischer who were visiting various parts of India to understand the essence of Hindi in more refined manner had so many interesting tales to narrate regarding their experiences which they gathered during their current visit.
The photo feature specifically deals with places which I came to visit along with Israeli delegation comprising of students. We were mainly interested in seeing places around Gorakhpur rich in cultural terms. That included Gorakhnath Temple, Kushinagar associated with cremation of Gautam Buddha and Maghar which marks the spot of Kabir’s cremation. Gorakhpur has literary significance as well since great literary personalities like Firaq Gorakhpuri and Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’ were associated with this city. Ageyeya was born in Kushinagar district.
Overall, it was a rewarding trip since it enlightened both head and heart. It’s time to let pictures tell the whole story about the various episodes of this beautiful journey. Interestingly, Dr. Genady was reluctant to tour this city since the place lacked desired cultural value. However, at the end of visit, he appeared to be overwhelmed after witnessing glorious facets of Indian history at such isolated places in this region especially temple and tomb of Kabeer standing adjacent to each other!
Must Not Miss This Article In Hindi To Know More About This Indo-Israel Connection 😛
Dr. Genady Shlomper came to Allahabad both as a tourist and as a person with purpose! He was here to attend a function organized to mark Hindi Divas on September 14. I could not be part of this function since I had to attend another event organized in a different city. As a result of that I could not meet the professor at this event, but next day I got an opportunity to meet him. It was a hurried affair since he was about to leave for Ayodhya. Anyway, it did not deter me from asking some interesting questions. Interestingly, it was a memorable experience to seek an appointment with a foreigner in my own language. The few minutes of talk over telephone in Hindi to fix time for the meeting was an unique experience.
This time too when I met someone from foreign land I noticed remarkable simplicity. Right in the beginning he confessed that he is no big guy! True, he might not be a celebrity but you need not to be a celebrity to enjoy a dignified stature! Speaking about his love for Hindi he stated that there was no emotional reason to learn Hindi. He embraced this language because he found it to be useful in scheme of things about to unfold in future. The market is growing and more and more job opportunities get concentrated in Asian countries. Therefore, it’s always going to be beneficial to learn Asian language instead of learning European language! It appears “Capitalism” has proved to be lifeline for Asian languages languishing under weight of English!
Speaking about the influence of Hindi in Israel he said that it’s not very commonplace to notice Hindi speaking person there. However, in modern times there is always a greater space for assimilation of newer ideas from other nations and people in Israel are not hesitant to fall in love with Hindi! On a different note, speaking about the specialties of Allahabad, he said that he found nothing fascinating about it! The only striking thing about this city was confluence of three rivers at Sangam area! Hearing this I was but compelled to ponder about one of the ills of globalization: That it’s fast making cities across the globe to lose their uniqueness! All cities are simply becoming clone of each other!
This brief meeting ended in few minutes but it gave rise to so many ideas as food for thought. That’s the plus point of being in company of academicians!
P.S. :- Dr. Genady Shlomper is a Hindi Instructor at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Not much has changed in Middle East since my last conversation with Bill Kirkman in 2006. Israel and Palestine relations continue to remain tense even as US has given way to tactical shift in its policies aimed at bringing stability in that region. It has become more people oriented than relying absolutely on state-to-state negotiations.
Obama’s words make that aspect very clear– “Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see…..Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time. … There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be.”
It would be interesting to know the views which flowed between us as we discussed this very sensitive issue seven years back.
This has reference to Bill Kirkman’s article “A war that is morally indefensible“ published in The Hindu on August 06, 2006. Well, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers by the Hamas and brutal murder of some of its soldiers by Hizballah were enough to fan the suppressed desires of Israeli. It’s time to acknowledge the fact that in war both the sides end up as losers. Let’s not intercept it as clash of civilization but clash of religious ideologies. However, it’s a harsh reality that none of the religious ideologies advocate violence but the fallacious interpretation of them by their followers leads to volcanic atmosphere. A situation which is cashed-in-on by the US and its like-minded allies to serve their vested interests. Unless the followers come to elevate their consciousness, it would be nothing sort of foolhardiness to expect miraculous changes in the future.
President Bush must heed to the words of Churchill: ” The statesman who yields to war fever ….is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” Surely, the way events have taken shape in Iraq, shattering American hopes one after another, should be enough for the US to intercept the dangers in pursuing imperialist designs in the name of restoration of human rights.
However, Americans love to ignore the lessons offered by past debacle. Had US remembered setback it received in Vietnam, it would have certainly curtailed its habit of pulling the strings of weaker nation on one pretext or another.
Words Of Bill Kirkman:
Thank you for writing. I was interested in your comments. I agree that in war both sides end up as losers. I take a very gloomy view of the future of West Asia.
About Bill Kirkman:
” He began his career as a journalist on the Wolverhampton Express & Star, which he joined on graduating from Oxford. Bill then moved on to The Times, where he was Africa Correspondent and Commonwealth Staff Correspondent in the early 1960s, covering the period of rapid de-colonisation. He is the author of Unscrambling an Empire (Chatto & Windus 1966) and has been a columnist for The Hindu since 1994. He was a frequent broadcaster with the BBC World Service and Africa Service in the 1960s, and with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in the 1990s. In 1983 Bill was awarded the MBE for services to journalism…..Bill was Head of the University Careers Service from his arrival in Cambridge in 1968 until 1992 (following four years as Careers Advisor at Oxford) and University Advisor on Public Relations 1992-1996.”
Source: Wolfson College Cambridge