Love of Urdu brings Japanese to Delhi

Professor emeritus Hiroji Kataoka has flown down from Tokyo, quite simply, for the love of Urdu.

For an Indian, "ghuf-ta-ghu" or banter lasting almost two hours with most Japanese, who are alien to English, would have been impossible without the expert help of an interpreter. Not with Kataoka.

Kataoka's first language is Japanese, but he will enthrall an audience with his Urdu couplets at a multi-faith, multi-national mushaira, or an Urdu poetry symposium, titled Mushaira Jashn-e-Bahar, slated for Thursday at the DPS Public School Mathura Road.

Kataoka has done it before, holding mushairas in his country among Urdu professors and students of Japan's three universities that have Urdu courses up to PhD levels -Tokyo, Osaka and his own Daito Bunka University.

"Can you tell me where Urdu Ghar is," Kataoka asks, raring to pay a visit to the place almost in the manner of a pilgrimage. Urdu Ghar, on Delhi's Rouse Avenue, houses the offices of Taraqui-i-Anjuman Urdu, India's leading Urdu research institution.

At Thursday's mushaira, the Japanese professor of international politics, will be joined by a global dazzle: Kishwar Naheed and Harris Khalique from Islamabad; Max Bruce from Austin Texas, Omar Salim Al Aidroos from Jeddah, Mona Shahab from Washington, Farhat Shahzad from New Jersey and Zakia Ghazal, Toronto -all Urdu poets.

The Pakistanis said they felt they were in familiar territory. "Delhi is so much like Islamabad. While extremists are dividing the two countries, writers like us are building the bridge," said Khalique, a development policy analyst.


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