Sheldon John Dias was born and raised in Kolkata. The city, with all its chaotic grandeur and unyielding magic, has left an indelible mark on him. He acknowledges its shortcomings, yet celebrates its chaos. He has been teaching in Dubai since 2016. Sheldon began his career as a journalist before moving to the Education industry. He was associated with Trinity College, London before taking the leap to Dubai. Sheldon has dabbled in the creative Arts and has worked as an Assistant Director in a few plays in Kolkata before writing and directing his first play at The Short and Sweet Theatre Festival in Dubai. He is currently working on his first book where he attempts to experiment with various forms of literary expression.
A nostalgic journey with writer and Sahitya Akademi Award Winner, Ather Farooqui…
To those who can’t get entry into the regular postgraduate degree courses at JNU, even nondescript courses like the part-time Diploma in Urdu journalism or the full-time course in mass communication run in the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) campus by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting present a window of opportunity to be a part of this great institute. It is great with regard both to work ethic and ideology. To those who wished to work hard, these courses were/are a boon, as their mere presence in JNU campus would motivate them, irrespective of whether classes were conducted regularly or whether the course had any utility.
…The idealism inculcated in JNU stays with you, it seeps into your every pore and translates into action. This is why, even now, whenever there is public outrage over unjust government policies or an act of violence, JNU students and faculty are often seen leading protests, facing police tear gas and browbeating, and generally expressing their outrage in diverse fora and on social media. However, when they leave the familiar and venture out through JNU’s gates into the wide world outside, they realize that even the train ticket back home comes at the cost of greasing someone’s palms and that corruption is omnipresent, and also that the world doesn’t set much store by JNU idealism. It is this shock that most JNUites experience when they leave their beloved campus and which is why, whenever I meet a non-JNUite, I don’t tell them that they were unfortunate to miss out on the JNU experience, but rather that they are fortunate they didn’t go to JNU—because JNU spoils you for life.
…But life has also taken its toll on JNU. Its pride in its tolerance of diversity of every kind among its faculty, administrative staff or students, whether regional, linguistic, religious or of dress, is dented every time an attempt at uniformity occurs and every time dissent is pitted against one’s loyalty to the nation. The continent in which JNU was an island is catching up with it. Luckily, JNU still has the strength to resist and retain its pride.
I joined JNU in 1986 to pursue a part-time diploma in mass media in Urdu. I hail from the sleepy town of Sikandrabad in district Buland Shahr, located some 60 km from Delhi’s Kashmiri Gate Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT). I don’t think that in 1986 my one-horse hometown was any different from what it had been in 1947. The privileged lifestyle now enjoyed by the elite and some sections of the middle class was then the prerogative of just a handful of families. The Delhi of 1986 was not as claustrophobically or catastrophically crowded as it is today; it was quite unorganised and dirty nonetheless, despite the fact that existing roads had been widened and some new ones built, leading up to Asiad 1982.
On 3rd March, 2017, the much loved Emirates Airline Festival of Literature opened in Dubai. The festival is on for nine days from 3-11 March, and is held during the UAE’s Month of Reading. Welcoming more than 180 authors from all over the world, including 70 authors from the Arab world, this event is marked with 250 sessions of master classes, workshops, talks and interactive panel discussions from the very best in the literary world. The festival widely covers all areas of creativity from literature, art, music, cooking to photography.
There are over 50 children’s session, the most popular being ones with Francesca Simon, the creator of the Horrid Henry series, and Julia Johnson. The highlight of the festival is talks and interactive sessions by master storyteller Lord Jeffrey Archer, and talks by John Hemmingway, the grandson of the legendary Ernest Hemmingway, celebrated crime writer Kathy Reichs, veteran Emirati author Abdull Aziz AlMusallam and award-winning journalist Christina Lamb.
From 5th to 7th March, the festival conducts a residential writing course for aspiring writers conducted by award winning international authors. The students will get an opportunity to present and discuss their manuscripts and meet with various publishing houses and agents; the first of its kind in the region.
Dubai known for its vibrant cultural ambience was recently buzzing with the news of the iconic Prithvi Theatres coming to the city. Thus, with it came the frenzy to book tickets, for the repertoire of plays that would be matter for discussion at many following summer evenings.
This five day theatre festival brought by Raging Tigers was a landmark event in the social circle of Dubai. The theatre personalities that performed included stalwarts of Indian cinema and theatre such as Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Shabana Azmi. The plays chosen for the festival had been handpicked, said Kunal Kapoor, trustee of Prithvi Theatres. The festival opened with Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah in the acclaimed Jerome Kitty’s‘Dear Liar’ adapted for the stage by the legendary Satyadev Dubey. The other plays selected were ‘White Lily and Knight Rider’, a play about the various dimensions of a male-female relationship in the digital world; ‘ Nothing Like Lear’ based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, the classic ‘Glass Menagerie’ and finally the immensely popular Urdu play ‘Kaifi Aur Main’, Shaukat Azmi’s memoirs on her husband poet Kaifi Azmi.
The play ‘Dear Liar’ particularly struck a chord, since the plot was on the dramatization of correspondence over a forty -year period between George Bernard Shaw and the celebrated actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, which began in late-Victorian London in 1899 and ended with the death of “Mrs Campbell” in France in 1940. A relationship intense and verbal that survived time and war and kept two immensely bright individuals bonded by letters. Only by rhetoric precisely. Writing a letter was an art, no less than art itself…now almost extinct.
The 8th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, a two-week celebration of the written and spoken word, is being held in Dubai from the 1st to the 12th of March, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The official opening was on Tuesday, the 8th of March.
The festival, the largest of its kind in the region, welcomes more than 140 authors, poets and speakers all under one roof to enrich and enlighten audiences of all age groups.
Numerous events for kids have been lined up, which could take them into the world of letters, art, drama, and fantasy. The most sought after is Jim Kay’s “A Muggle’s–eye view of Harry Potter”, Lauren Child’s talk about Charlie and Lola, and the “Once Upon a Time Tea Parties” where children are invited to attend dressed as their favorite character, and served scrumptious tea, cakes and cookies and sandwiches and excitement!