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Life has to Move-4

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Way back to 1988 I came to IIC for the first time.I had an association with Kamleswar,prominent Hindi author from my days with Odia Juba Lekhak Sammelan in 1970s.I informed Kamleswar that I have joined NCERT and will be in Delhi for a few days.I was posted at Lucknow and was on tour to Delhi.

It was a great time for me three years ago around this time for five days at India International Centre (IIC) for holding a great programme.It was not only my last big event 'Experiencing North East' organised jointly by India International Centre and North Eastern Council,Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region,but also the ambience and the great legacy of IIC of which I was a part for over three decades before I left Delhi.All the eight states of India’s North East took part in the programme.

Way back to 1988 I came to IIC for the first time.I had an association with Kamleswar,prominent Hindi author  from my days with Odia Juba Lekhak Sammelan in 1970s.I informed Kamleswar that I have joined NCERT and will be in Delhi for a few days.I was posted at Lucknow and was on tour to Delhi.

'Come,let us meet at IIC,' Kamleswar said.

I did not know where IIC is.I used to come to Delhi from 1981,but nobody invited me to IIC by that time.I asked my friends and could understand that it is near Lodhi Garden.At about 3 pm  I  somehow managed to reach IIC.

"Come,what will you drink ?' Kamleswar asked.Than he said,'If you take chilled beer,you can take it here.But if you want a hard drink,we may have to go to Bar.'

'I take beer only',I said.Those days I was used only to soft drinks .

That was my first encounter with IIC.In the 34 years of association with Delhi ,I must have visited IIC a thousand times.But I never tried to become a member though with my help many of my friends have become.

I always had a sense of withdrawal from the pollution and life of Delhi and so,could not buy an apartment in the Lutyens though it was available at a very low price in 1990 when I came to Delhi on a regular posting.
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On one day a friend of mine invited me for tea at 2 pm in the IIC Canteen.'Can I get chilled beer ? I asked the person there. 'Sorry Sir,you can get it in the Bar.' He politely replied.

'But I came here with Kamleswar Ji...' I said.

The gentleman bowed his head with honour and said,'He was the person who got a job for me here.But Sir,you must have come here 20 years before..Now serving beer in the canteen has been stopped for the last more than 15 years .But you can get it in the bar.'

'Yes', It was there 34 years back.Rest of the times I have come to the bar in the evening,' I said.Then suddenly somebody patted my back.I looked back and found Girdhar Rathi,former editor,Samkaleen Bhartiya Sahitya and eminent Hindi poet.

'You have left NBT I am told', he said.

'No Bhaiya,I have gone on deputation to North Eastern Council, Shillong for a few years to breathe fresh air.Anyway ,my Chairman has called me back and I am likely to come back next month,' I replied.’Come,let us have a drink in the bar,' Girdhar Bhai persuaded me and I promptly obliged him.
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Now I have left Delhi for almost the last two years but memories always haunt me.Chandrakiran Bhabhi, wife of Giridhar Bhai has also left for her heavenly abode a year ago and I don’t know where is Giridhar Bhai these days.

And if India International Centre, the only intellectual club in the Capital City is functioning these days when Covid has literally brought an
abrupt end to intellectual discourses in the country with the establishment ?

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