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A Morning Brush with India

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or curious passers-by, it was something special happening. The people looked like “Yindu-ren,” they were wearing perhaps their traditional clothes and had a couple of microphones in front of them. As a Chinese father explained to his daughter beside me, looking at the statue behind the Indian gathering, “This is Tagore, the great Indian poet and those people are all Indians.” Tagore’s relationship with China is common knowledge by now. Today, most educated Chinese know about Tagore and have read his poems. The vast range of Tagore’s works is being

translated from Bengali to Chinese by eight professors from Beijing. Therefore, the short cultural performance that the Indian Consulate in Shanghai had organized in front of the Tagore bust on Mao ming Road to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary served to give the common Chinese people a glimpse of Tagore’s works. For the very same occasion, thirty students have also come from Tagore International School in New Delhi to perform a dance based on Tagore’s Bhanusingher Padavali along with students of Jinyuan School, Shanghai. In fact I had the good fortune of seeing the Chinese students dance to a Tagore song while on a trip to their school to teach them the details of the dance (the dance had been choreographed and taught to them through video conferencing by teachers of Tagore International School). It was amazing to see the Chinese girls, who danced almost perfectly and would have passed of as Indian if not for the jump-suit school uniforms that they were wearing. It seems that the Indian and Chinese are definitely bridging the gap, in their own small ways. It is done sometimes by singing on a busy street – a rare occurrence on Chinese streets, trademarked only by the fact that there were as many policemen as there were singers – and sometimes by dancing together in immense enjoyment. From these examples it seems that it is best when done through the joint efforts of the government and the common people. The choice is ours – whether to try and bridge the gap in sixty years or do it in sixteen minutes. 

Sumelika Bhattacharyya Chronicle Bureau, Shanghai

March-April 2011  India-China Chronicle |64|


Beyond the Great Wall-mar-apr2011