In the enchanting backdrop of Al Seef Dubai, the 'India by the Creek' festival reached its grand finale on a third day filled with artistic crescendos, creating an enduring cultural bridge between India and the UAE. The inaugural event, a collaboration between the Consulate General of India and Teamwork Arts (the producers of Jaipur Literature Festival) presented by Dubai Duty Free and guided by associate producer Ravi Menon, brought together a rich tapestry of Indian and Emirati cultures, showcasing the shared values and enduring friendship between the two nations.

The closing day commenced with a mesmerising symphony of classical to fusion music that resonated through the bustling streets of Al Seef. Renowned artistes from both India and the UAE graced the stage, offering a diverse array of musical traditions. From soul-stirring classical renditions to contemporary fusion, the audience embarked on a sonic journey that transcended borders.

Ramesh Cidambi, Chief Operating Officer, Dubai Duty Free, said, “The idea initially came from Ravi Menon, and we wanted to showcase the intellectual side of India. The working title was India Talks, focusing on writers discussing their work, presenting a different aspect of India than commonly seen in movies." He spotlighted the transformative collaboration with Teamwork Arts, expanding the concept into a three-day festival featuring music, dance, literature, and even unveiling of former Indian ambassador Navdeep Suri's new book A Game of Fire (originally written by his grandfather, renowned Indian writer Nanak Singh and translated by him) by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence of the United Arab Emirates. “Over 75 years, A Game of Fire has been an important source for understanding India and its history, especially during the partition era," he said.

Overcoming challenging weather conditions

On the second day of the festival, the unstable weather conditions had proven to be a challenge for the team. But the team persevered. Ravi Menon, the local partner of the event, emphasised, "We faced challenges with Ramadan declaration, venue clearance, and rain. The spirit of the festival is triumphing over challenges. Evolution and adaptation have been our strengths for 12 years --- ever since the idea was conceived."

Sanjoy K. Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, shared a heartwarming story about the Indian Ocean group, highlighting the festival's magical spirit. "On Day 1, Indian Ocean, an amazing group, had a story too. Their drummer, Amit Kilam , an original member, got stuck in a snowstorm in Lahaul-Spiti. They hoped he'd reach civilisation, but couldn't. Luckily, a Dubai-based fan and drummer stepped in and was fantastic. It was truly magical."

Culture for the soul

A significant highlight of the closing day was the literary discourse, bringing together acclaimed authors, poets, and thinkers from both nations. Engaging discussions explored the common threads binding the ancient histories of India and UAE, providing attendees with a deeper understanding of their shared roots.

One of the key talking points on the closing day was a discussion on Mahatma Gandhi and his influence on generations, chaired by Roy. Dissecting the finer nuances of Gandhi's legacy, Indian writer and former member of the Union Public Service Commission board Purushottam Agrawal spoke at length about why Gandhi continues to resonate across generations and cultures, while Ravi Menon provided interesting counterpoints, elevating the scope of the discussion.

The evening ended with a performance by the Kashmiri band Alif and Hindustani qawwal Lakhwinder Wadali in what was a packed house.

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