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A home away from home

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Ju Yeon Seo. (B. Halder)

This Korean in Calcutta has embraced the best of both worlds. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Ju Yeon Seo brought to the city its only authentic Korean restaurant.

Seo moved to Calcutta with her husband, who is in the electronics trade and also the vice-president of the Korean Association of Calcutta, in December 2000 and was disappointed to find no restaurant serving Korean food. Thus was born Family Chicken six years ago. The restaurant at CF Block in Salt Lake has a loyal clientele has kept growing.

“Family ties are important both in India and Korea. And I realised soon enough that people here loved eating chicken more than any other meat. So I decided to name my restaurant Family Chicken,” said Seo, who struggled to get essential Korean ingredients like gochujang (a spicy red chilli paste), chamgireum (Korean sesame oil) and Korean rice. To replenish her stocks, Seo has to make an annual trip to Seoul. Some items are also procured from Delhi. But Seo plans to open a Korean supermarket in the city.

Seo’s English is still broken but she has mastered Bengali. “I have a Korean friend married to a Bengali here. I took her suggestion and enrolled for a Bengali language course at Jadavpur University. Now I can speak and write the language fluently,” she smiled.

Contemporary Tagore

As many as eight Supreme Court judgments have cited Tagore’s poems to illustrate the judge’s decision. The trivia was shared by Ishwara P. Bhat, the vice-chancellor of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WBNUJS) in his inaugural address at a seminar to celebrate 100 years of Tagore’s Nobel prize.

Bhat described Tagore as “not just a great poet, musician, dramatist or novelist” but “a humanist and a path-breaking educationist”.

Gitanjali taught us that justice has a natural course of action. In the tussle between social and legal justice, the aim remains the same — deliverance of justice. One kind of justice may take over the other at times but justice will be rendered,” said Bhat.

The topic of the seminar hosted by the School of Social Sciences at NUJS was Rabindranath Tagore: From Contemporary Perspective.

“This is a big day for people in Bengal. Tagore was the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1913. This is our way of celebrating his life and works,” said Anupama Ghosal, the coordinator of the School of Social Sciences.

Tapati Mukherjee, the director of culture and cultural relations at Visva-Bharati, said: “The educationist in Tagore denounced the British method of education that only aimed to train clerks in India who would help them consolidate their power in the sub-continent. He was totally against caging students in a classroom and punishing them for silly reasons.”

Rights and you

“How many of you have seen yourselves dead in a dream?” Swami Suparnananda Maharaj, the secretary of Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Gol Park, asked students of the department of political science at Bhawanipur Education Society College. When more than half the students in the auditorium raised their hands, he said, “All of you are very fortunate. In your dream you’ve seen how the human mind and human body are two different entities. It is quite an achievement to be able to dissociate the mind from the body.”

Bijoya Dutt presents a dance drama, The Rhythmic Maharis, at Tapan Theatre. Abida Islam, the Bangladesh deputy high commissioner in Calcutta, was the chief guest on the occasion. Picture by Arnab Mondal

Suparnananda Maharaj, one of the speakers in a panel discussion on Human Rights and Human Values : The Contemporary Indian Question, went on to talk about how a democracy needed both values and rights to stay afloat. “You must be people of culture and not merely people of civilisation. The growth has to be within and not just in career and academics. You should definitely go out and make money and live like a king with that money. But don’t indulge in petty politics to achieve your goal,” he said, explaining how a strong value system was the foundation of a thriving economy.

The panel also included Chittatosh Mookerjee, former chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission. He spoke about rights and their implications in our lives. “With fundamental rights come duties as corresponding obligations,” he reminded.

Contributed by Neha Banka and Showli Chakraborty