Why learn a foreign language?

Visits to the Ahmedabad National Book Fair (May 2 - May 7, 2017) have triggered this blogpost. I find myself lost in the world of books, languages, literature, poetry, songs and so much more. When visiting the book fair and attending various workshops and sessions offered there, I felt as if I was living in paradise. After all, a book fair is no less than paradise for book lovers. It set me thinking about languages in general and mother languages in particular. Very quickly, our young generation is losing touch with their own language courtesy the trend of multilingualism, which is fine by itself, but must not let us drift apart from our own traditions and culture. On the other hand, this also set me thinking about an activity that I have been involved in for the past one year. That is learning a foreign language.

What began with resistance, defiance and reluctance has surprisingly turned into acceptance today. While in university, I was dead against the idea of taking up a foreign lan…

My encounter with the French language

Only recently, we celebrated 'World Poetry Day'. Though, a little belated, I'd like to share my experiences of learning the French language for an year now. What does learning a foreign language do to you? A lot! More than what you could have ever imagined! It opens up an entire new world of possibilities in front of you, right from exciting career and study options to just the simple pleasure that one obtains when one is learning a foreign language. It transforms your life for sure as you discover not only new words and grammar, but also a new culture in the form of films, music, literature and food. I took the plunge and decided to pen down a poem of my experiences with the French language with whom I have been friends for about an year now. In this poem, the French language is a person whom I am having a conversation with. I tell her that I am afraid of a foreign language. She, in turn, reassures and comforts me. You have to be friends with a language, you can't ke…

Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore

Movie Review Directed by: Vijay Raaz Starring: Vijay Raaj, Manu Rishi, Raj Zutshi & Vishwajeet Pradhan A 2014 Release
The conflict between India and Pakistan has been the subject of many a popular movies in Hindi cinema (Bollywood). Mainstream movie discourse in both India and Pakistan rests on building upon a hatred of the ‘other’ so as to glorify patriotism and a sense of national superiority. Very few movies have dwelled upon the humane side of this cross-border conflict raging since 1947. It is for this reason that Kya Dilli Kya Lahore (What is Dilli, What is Lahore) presented by renowned Indian lyricist and writer Gulzar and directed by Vijay Raaj comes across as breath of fresh air.
How easy it is to picture camaraderie between a Pakistani solider and a cook in the Indian army? Impossible in the immediate war dominated scenario of 1948 following the partition of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan? The movie builds upon a conversation that these two individuals have …

My Caux Story

Dr. Nidhi Shendurnikar Ahmedabad, India
Stories are powerful. Stories make experiences come alive. One of the best means to positive transformation, dialogue and healing can be found in the form of story-telling. This is why, today, I choose to tell a story. This is my Caux story. The story of my time at the Caux Scholars Program (CSP) at Asia Plateau, in Panchgani (India).

Come to think of it and I almost did not make it to the CSP at Asia Plateau (AP). I received an acceptance letter from Jitka-Hromek Vaitla, the program coordinator informing me of my admission to the program with a scholarship in September 2015. After which, I traveled to Australia and New Zealand with family in November only to land up working in a new project upon my return to India in December. Taking out three weeks time for the Caux training was quite a task when I had only just started working on a new project. So, I decided to let this opportunity go. Of course, I was unhappy about it and informed Jitka that I …

To Be or Not to Be ... Natsamrat

How often do you get to watch a movie that is not just a three hour entertainment package delivered to you on screen, but more than that? A movie that is a lived experience for its audience. I watched one such movie recently. Of late, the Marathi movie industry has been producing some excellent stuff, with innovative story lines and bold characters. Director Mahesh Manjrekar has been at the forefront of this cinematic revolution. Anytime, I venture in to watch a Marathi movie, my expectations automatically turn sky high because Marathi cinema, over the past few years has actually spoilt its viewers for choice. Last week I watched the Nana Patekar starrer Natasamrat which means 'King of the theatre scene'. Through its trailers and subject, one feels that Natsamrat is a typically serious, art-oriented movie. And that it is. But deep inside, the movie offers a very enchanting story of an old man who once reigned the theatre scene in Maharashtra. With this, it offers ample life le…

When Indians and Pakistanis talk to each other

A pioneering initiative of The Red Elephant Foundation (Chennai, India), The Building Peace Project (2014-15), in its first season was weaved around an unflinching belief in the power of citizen driven interactions through new media technology. Young people from conflict zones can come together on a shared platform to talk to each other. Nine pairs of Indians and Pakistanis undertook a year long journey of exchange, interaction, collaboration and friendship under the umbrella of The Building Peace Project. Post the year long interaction and exchange, these ambassadors of peace in India and Pakistan express their ideas on what the project meant to them, how they built everlasting friendships and acquired sensitivity and understanding to accommodate differing perspectives. These young people have been able to shed the baggage of historical animosity and disseminate their own version of what it means to be 'friends' with the 'enemy'. Their stories of peace, here, in their…

My Soul Sister From Across the Border

It is rare to meet in one’s lifetime a person with whom you can connect intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It is even more difficult when the country to which they belong is an ‘enemy’ of your country! However, I was lucky enough to find my soul sister and would like to share such a phenomenal story with Beyond Violence readers.

It was early 2014 and I was a participant in the Building Peace Project (2014-15) pioneered by the Red Elephant Foundation in Chennai. I was paired with Sehr Nisar, a first year student of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), to talk, build bonds, share cultures, and cement friendships through virtual connections on Skype, Facebook, and WhatsApp. I got myself a new mobile phone, rather a smart phone, only for this project, to be able to connect with Sehr on a regular basis. It is a different story for another time, but I damaged the phone within a month of the project’s commencement!

Another matter worth mentioning is that this was als…