Monday, November 17, 2014

Kalaghoda Arts Festival and Amin Hassan

Mumbai is a city in love with its festivals. Diwali, Eid and Christmas are all celebrated with great pomp and valour all over the city. But Culutral Celebrations are another set of activities that bring the people of Mumbai together. Culture through literature, cinema, theatre, music, dance is something that many Indians in urban and rural centers of the country have grown up to appreciate and celebrate.

I had just attended the Jaipur Literature Festival from the 23rd January to the 28th January 2012. I arrived in Mumbai for another festival happening here in the first week of February.

The Kalaghoda Arts Festival 

It is organized in the first week of February in the Kalghoda Area in Mumbai every year is one such celebration that many Mumbaikars look forward to. The entire Kalaghoda area is converted into a carnival  like atmosphere for the nine days of the festival.

The festival draws over 1,50,000 people from all over the city to 350 events over 9 days. There are events and separate designated spots for every field as such:-
·     Art
·     Music
·     Dance
·     Theatre
·     Cinema
·     Live Performances
·     Literature
·     Stalls and Carnival
·     Workshops and Seminars
·     Street Acts

I participated in as many events as possible during the festival. I had to attend a few hours of college as well and thus had to miss a few of the important events. I also got to attend a few workshops during the festival. At the literature event I got to listen to authors like Jeet Thayil, Jerry Pinto, Amit Chaudhari among others.

The Incredible - Amin Hasan

But one interaction stays fresh in my mind. I saw him outside the David Sasoon Library Hall on one of the evenings of the Festival. He had a few books in his hand and as I was going to enter the David Sasoon Hall for one of the literature events, he approached me with a smile.

He then shared his story with me. He had written a book about his personal life journey. He was born and brought up on the streets where he had to face several hardships. One day a man named Father Fonseca took him into a shelter for run away children. He stayed at this shelter and got his education with various other kids here. As he grew up, he got his driving license and then started his own travel company, giving tours to locals and foreigners in his car.

He self-published this book about his life with the help of another established author he was in touch with. He was standing outside the Hall to sell copies of the book and to finance his dream.

His Dream

He wanted to open a Café in Mumbai that would give the city dwellers a place to read and to have good conversations. He actually had made a business plan for this project that he shared with me on the spot. Just listening to him and being in his presence, made me feel so good about myself. I purchased my copy of the book, got his contact details and then walked off to attend another of the Literature events. Before taking the turn to the hall where the event was happening, I turned around to look at Amin again.

There I saw him, with a smile on his face, sharing his dream with another couple that just walked by. With all that he had gone through, he stood there smiling, with so much hope in his heart. He was truly a hero. That day I understood why Mumbai was called the, 'City of Dreams'.

Let us learn together
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