B.U. Translation Seminar for 2022

Boston University offers a fascinating lecture series on translation every spring, and it’s open to the public!  Writers and translators for all different languages describe their process and challenges, and field questions from students and other attendees.  If you’re interested in the many ways that translation (and by extension, language learning) is an art, especially between languages that are not closely related, for which there is sometimes no path to convey the original meaning, this is a wonderful lecture series to check out.  Last year all the lectures were offered on Zoom, and that may happen again this year.  Check the website in January to find out.

You can also view most of the past lectures going back many years here.  This is truly a wonderful resource.

Taj Mahal Foxtrot

MIT-India and Harvard South Asia Institute
present South Asia and Its Diasporas, a speakers series

Jazz Goes to Bollywood
with Naresh Fernandes
Author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 6:00-8:00pm

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Tang Center, Building E51, Room 275
2 Amherst Street @ Wadsworth Street, Cambridge

Discussant: Vivek Bald, Associate Professor
Comparative Media Studies/Writing, MIT

“In the late 1950s, a period acknowledged as the Golden Era of Hindi film music, Bollywood songs were enlivened by a rather unusual influence: jazz. This presentation will explain how a group of journeymen jazz musicians fleeing racism in the U.S. in the 1930s gave India a taste for hot music, and how these syncopated sounds found their way into the Hindi film studios. It will also explore how political ideas traveled the other way, as African Americans sought Gandhi’s advice on their political struggles.”

Naresh Fernandes is the author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age. He is the editor of Scroll India, which is a very interesting publication, worth checking out.

Bollywood Songs: Romance and Revolution

Learning songs is a fun way to learn a language, and you generally will never forget vocabulary and phrases you learn via songs you enjoy. This lecture from Hindi lyricist Ali Husain Mir gives an insightful historical overview of the development of Hindi-Urdu movie songs so you’ll know where to start and how to put it all in perspective.

Translating a Hindi Classic Into English Aesthetics, Or “How Can I Convince Everyone This Novel Is Awesome?”


If you’ve studied an Asian language for a while you probably realize what a daunting task translating Hindi literature into English would be, especially if you want it to maintain the original appeal of the Hindi.  So this lecture should be interesting:  “Translating a Hindi Classic into English Aesthetic, or ‘How Can I Convince Everyone This Novel Is Awesome?” It’s at Boston University and open to the public;  check it out if you can, at 745 Commonwealth Avenue, room 625 on 2/6/15.

Harvard South Asia Institute Summer Film Series


The HSAI Summer Film Series begins 6/27/13 with Amar, Akhbar, and Anthony, the campy fun Amitabh Bachchan vehicle that was the first Bollywood movie I ever saw, and is still one of my favorites.  This was Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster of 1977 and also stars Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor.  The other movies in the series are more serious.  Check out the schedule.  I believe these movies are free and open to the public.

South Asia Without Borders Symposium

This symposium, sponsored by the South Asia Institute at Harvard, will be held at the Inn At Harvard in Harvard Square,  April 25-26, 2013, and will cover a range of socio-economic topics.  Check out the schedule right here.

Hindi Meetup Beginner’s Practice

I will be leading a Beginner’s Hindi Practice meeting for Boston Hindi Speaker’s Meetup tomorrow, 3/2/13, at 2:00 p.m. at  the EC Boston Language School, 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston.  At this meetup, we’ll cover expressing basic wants and needs on a shopping trip.  Grammatical structures will include want/need, singular and plural nouns, and pronouns with ko.  Vocabulary will include fruits/vegetables and numbers. Please join us if you can.  Feel free to email me with any questions.

Join us for Hindi Conversation Meetup at Panera Harvard Square

Yahoo Meetup Group Boston Ke Hindi Bolnewale is having its regular Hindi Conversation Meetup on 1/10/13 at Paneera, Harvard Square (1288 Mass Ave.).  There are usually a number of native speakers in attendance and this is a great opportunity to practice Hindi in a casual setting. You can officially join this Meetup Group and see their other events here.

“Bishar Blues” Screening

Check out Amitabh Chakraborty’s Bengali film, Bishar Blues, at 7 p.m. on November 13 at Lincoln Public Library. This landmark documentary features the bauls (or “madmen” itinerant musicians) of Bangladesh, whose ancient songs still occupy the collective Bengali imagination.  Bauls are both spurned and venerated, as they inhabit a threshold between societies, sexualities, and religions, preaching both Hinduism and Islam simultaneously.  This film screening is organized by one of my students, and I would love it if you drop by!

New Films on the Relationship Between Food and Faith

Poster for Holy Kitchens, True Business episode

From the Harvard South Asia Initiative Newsletter:

On Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, Chef Vikas Khanna, Michelin Starred Indian Chef, restaurateur, food writer, film maker, humanitarian and the host of the TV show MasterChef India will bring True Business, a film about Sikh community kitchens, or langars, which provide free food to everyone who comes, regardless of belief. The langar has been a part of Sikh tradition since the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. The tradition is based in the ethic of equality, sharing, community and inclusiveness.   True Business is the first film in Khanna’s Holy Kitchens film series, which visits sacred places, religious leaders, philosophers and devotees of the world’s religions to examine the experience of sharing food in a spiritual context. 

Watch the trailer on YouTube, or you can also see the entire film at the Culture Unplugged Website.

The Holy Kitchens series also includes  films on the relationship between food and other faiths including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and others.

Oprah in India

Check out  “Oprah Travels to India,”  on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” especially the first episode, in which Oprah discovers that a family of five can live happily–by their own account–in a 100-square-foot room.

In this clip from “Oprah Travels to India,”  Oprah says she now understands what’s really important after visiting the Hegde family’s 10-foot-by-10-foot home in Mumbai. Oprah  also visits the family’s bathing area, where 60 neighbors share four toilets and a small room for washing.  Accompanying Oprah is “Shantaram” author Gregory David Roberts.  

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