The Indian Cultural Centre, Kuala Lumpur

The Indian Cultural Centre at Kuala Lumpur is one of 24 centres set up at different capitals to showcase Indian culture and to project what is now called its “soft power”. It has a fine library and an Ayurvedic Information centre as well as a small auditorium where lectures and other shows are held and, we are told, movies will also be shown at a later date.It makes me feel proud that now we have centres like this in important cities. In our younger days we frequented the USIS and the British Council libraries as well as Gorky Sadan, now I can, in Kuala Lumpur visit the Indian Cultural Centre.
There is a fairly large library, and they appear to be buying books all the time. The choice is eclectic and there does not appear to be much political bias in the buying. Jawaharlal Nehru rubs shoulders with Lal Krishna Advani and there are many coffee table books on various aspects of Indian culture and history that I find very attractive. There is a wide array of fiction. Amitava Ghosh, my favourite is very well represented as are all his contemporaries. There is a fairly large number of translations also from Indian languages. The library also stocks DVDs of movies, though this really does not interest me too much.
The Centre also runs classes on Yoga, Tabla and classical Indian dancing. I was told that these classes are not being well attended, however I attended a lecture demonstration by one of the teachers of classical dance which was well attended and the students of the centre demonstrated the points the lecturer was trying to make with skill and verve.
There are occasional lectures as well which I enjoy. Rakesh Sharma, the astronaut spoke last month and I enjoyed his presentation on the preparation process that he had to undergo for the mission to the stars. I have already spoken of the lecture demonstration. The auditorium also doubles up as an art gallery and there are, at the present moment. some marvelous pictures by Benoy Behl on display presently where he has documented Buddhist Monuments in India.
All in all, it is a home away from home for those of us who feel the call of India.

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