Sundeep Bhutoria

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A `heart ache’ follows me

Went to Jogen da’s birthday celebrations. It was a family affair with few close friends. I presented him an Uttoriyo designed by Sharbari Dutta. He liked it very much and wore it immediately on his kurta and kept it on till the last.
This morning I read about the Citu’s protest at the National Library while Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen was chairing a Kolkata Group Workshop. I did hear about some disturbances yesterday but only learnt about Citu’s involvement from The Telegraph Metro report. The fact that the disturbance took place despite the presence of Sri Ashim Dasgupta and Sri Sitaram Yechury at the workshop came as no surprise to me. But what shocked and shamed me, and the city perhaps, was the utter disrespect and insult shown by some people who timed their raucous protests when a Nobel Laureate was involved in a discussion with a host of other dignitaries including Shabana Azmi, Sharmila Tagore, Nandita Das and others.
May be for people like us, who share the dubious credit of losing Nobel Prize, have yet to learn to value and respect the Nobel Prize. A fact that becomes more glaring when I recall the tributes and respect that other countries have bestowed upon Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
I remember, years ago when I was in Czech Republic, and learnt from Indian chancellor Ramesh Chander that a bust of Rabindranath was placed at the Thakur Riwa (street in local language) in Prague. As I visited the spot and saw Gurudev’s bust set atop a pillar (see picture). I stood speechless, my heart swelling with pride.
While in Hungary, Indian ambassador Manbir Singh told me that a cardiac hospital in Balantonfured, a village about 100 km from Budapest, where Tagore was treated during his visit in 1928, housed his statue.
There were more surprises waiting for me when I went to the village and found a park named after Gurudev. As was the room where Tagore had stayed named Tagore Suite, which is reserved for VIPs.
Director of the hospital Dr Gabor Veress inquired about the nearest airport to Santiniketan and in which museum the Nobel Prize medal was kept. I was caught off guard. What could I tell him - That the prize had been stolen?
For the reader’s interest let me tell you that Pablo Neruda’s birthplace Santiago (Chile) has a park named in honour of Tagore. Shanghai has immortalized the conversation of Tagore and a Chinese poet in a sculpture. There are many such examples alluding to the love and reverence with which the world remembers Gurudev.
And here we are, in his very own land of birth, not even able to protect his Nobel Prize.
And as yesterday showed, it seems to be getting worse. I wanted to tell more but tomorrow have a flight to catch.
ess bee

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