Culture: The Universal Language of Poetry and Art; You Don't Have to Speak Hindi, Urdu or Gujarati to Appreciate Indian Music, Food, Art or Even Poetry. All You Need Is to Be Open to Having Your Senses Saturated. Jo Ind Reports on an Event This Friday Which Promises to Bathe You in the Best of India

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Byline: Jo Ind

I did not understand a word the woman was saying. I did not even know what language she was speaking in. And yet as she was reciting her poem, I found myself feeling sweetly sad.

I was listening to a member of Gitanjali Multilingual Literary Circle (GMLC) recite a poem in her mother tongue. I did not understand her poem, but I was emotionally affected by words nonetheless. I am still trying to figure that one.

This is an experience familiar to the members of GMLC, a group of 20 or so Indian poets set up in Birmingham more than nine years ago.

Founded by Dr Krishna Kumar, the poets meet once a month and read their latest work to each other in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Telagu or English.

Some poets are familiar with maybe three or four of the languages, but there is nobody there who can speak them all.

I found that sometimes it was enough to enjoy the sounds of the words. At other times an emotion was captured, even when I could not comprehend the meanings.

And there were moments when it was frustrating too, almost painfully so, when I realised in a new way, that no matter how long my life was and how hard I studied, I would never be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the poems.

At such times, I used each poem as a meditation on how little I knew of our rich, diverse and immense world.

Dr Kumar set up the multilingual poetry group in Birmingham to foster tolerance and understanding between people from different parts of the Indian subcontinent.

'Otherwise everybody stays in their own little ghettos,' he said.

Learning to listen to each others languages, to develop understanding and appreciate what we will never understand is what the group is all about.

This Friday, there is the opportunity for anybody to sample the delights of GMLC's poetry as well as a feast of other Indian arts.

GMLC is hosting an Oasis Cafe Theatre at the Orange Studio, in Canon Street, Birmingham starting at 7pm.

Oasis Cafe Theatre is a mixed arts event set up by Julie Boden, Birmingham's poet laureate.

Julie has invited the Indian poets to hold an evening of poetry, music and fine art which will include an Indian buffet.

The evening will kick off with poetry reading at 7.30pm. Fine art by the painter Sarvesh Saini, a member of GMLC, will be on display.

There will be a break during which there will be an Indian buffet and then there will be a performance of classical and semiclassical music by Aravinda Rao and some more poetry. …