"The wise learn from their own experiences but the truly intelligent will learn from someone else's!" - Benjamin Franklin. Welcome

Akbani Informatics: A full-service consultancy for training, and information management. For Information services, Research, Content management, Training, Human Resources, Helpful Advice & Related Services Visit www.akbani.info  

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Prof. Isaac Sequeira, 1930 - 2006

This post is regularly updated (last updated May 29, 2011)

  The Swimmer, for Isaac Sequeira, 1930-2006,
by Prof. Amritjit Singh

Here comes a A certificate of appreciation from the USEFI:

  • The Swimmer (a poem) for Isaac Sequeira, 1930-2006, by Amritjit Singh

  • Ohio prof who pioneered study of pop culture dies Ray Browne, an Ohio university professor who was credited with coining the phrase "popular culture" and pioneering the study of things such as bumper stickers and cartoons, has died. He was 87.
  • Isaac Sequeira Prize
  • Sad News: Prof. Isaac Sequeira Passes away - Sept 7, 2006 --

    Noted academician and former director of the Indo-American Centre for International Studies (formerly American Studies Research Centre, ASRC) at Osmania University Campus, Hyderabad, India.

    The funeral is on 13th evening at St. joseph's church, Hyderabad. contact: 30281848 / 23226392

    For messages, comments SEE the bottom of this page (comments sections).

    Tribute to Isaac Sequeira, The Hindu, Sep 21, 2006
    Osmania University Centre for International Programmes will organise a memorial meeting to pay tribute to Prof. Isaac Sequeira, former Director, IACIS on September 25.
    The meeting will be held at 3.30 p.m. at the OUCIP, Osmania University Campus.

    Other biographical sketches:

    Ali Mohammed Ismail Akbani

    15 Dec 1916 - 21 Dec 2002.

    My dad visiting ASRC

    Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait Akbani
    1922 - 2005

  • Prof. Khaja Jalaluddin Biyabani 1956 - 2003


    Anonymous said...

    Hi Taher,
    Thanks for the news.

    Anonymous said...

    thanks for keeping me posted.

    Anonymous said...

    thanks for letting us know.

    am sad to hear that. he was my teacher, one of the best.,
    am glad i met him on one of my recent visits.

    haroon Siddiqui

    Anonymous said...

    I have no words to convey our shock at this news (Manju Jaidka had already written to me). Prem and I did not know he had been sick for over a month – at the very least we would have called.

    He will be sorely missed by hundreds of people around the country who have benefited from his guidance and generosity for over 40 years. He was an institution unto himself and sustained the identity and survival of the Centre under the most trying circumstances. We all owe him a deep debt of gratitude for that alone. But over the years he did much more than that in his gentle, consensus-building, gracious ways.

    Prof. Amritjit Singh, ASingh@ric.edu

    Anonymous said...

    I am deeply saddened by the news. He was one of my dearest friends and allies. Hyderabad has lost a gem of a son.

    His total kindness, generosity and malice-towards-none-life style was a lesson to all in how to live a civilized life. I cannot get out of my mind certain pictures, his whole body rocking with laughter while he entertained friends at Nizam Club, his unobtrusive ways as he toiled on the stage to help with dramatic productions and the deep intellectual passion with which he lectured on music and literature. Literally hundreds of young scholars from all over the country benefited from his incredible range of knowledge and his readiness to help.

    I had no idea he had been ill. The Centre owes a lot to his dedicated and selfless service.

    He was a thorough gentleman, they don't make 'em like him anymore. Indeed the world has lost a very special human being.

    Prof. Jaysinh Birjepatil, birje@marlboro.edu

    Anonymous said...

    I too happen to be among the legions of Osmanians on whose lives Prof. Isaac Sequeira leaves an everlasting impact, as he moves on to the other world.
    God grant his noble soul eternal peace.

    Satyanarayana Y.

    Anonymous said...

    Dear Taher :
    I am grieved to learn about the sad demise of Prof. Sequera. He was one of the founders of ASRC and good friend of American Directors. May his soul rest in peace.

    Dr. S D Vyas

    Anonymous said...

    Sad news indeed! Good that you could inform me.
    Best, Nibir Ghosh

    Anonymous said...

    Dear Mohamed: I am very sorry to hear about Isaac's death. He was one of my favorite people. He helped me out many times and attended several of our conferences, especially those in England. Both here and in England he was a favorite of everyone. He was kind and generous, a splendid scholar and the best kind of academic, one who was also a performer. Although we had not seen him in years we looked upon him as an absent treasure, a joy to keep in storage until we could see him again. We miss him now even more than we have through the years.

    Ray Browne

    Anonymous said...

    The last time I heard Isaac speak was at a March 2006 seminar where he began his inaugural remarks with, "Hyderabad is a city of minars and seminars." In the same punning mood, one might declare him to be a man of remarkable wit and weight; and then perhaps add, "and also wisdom" (after all, he remained a life-long bachelor!). When I first met him in 1982, I was reminded of the famous description (of Boswell?) of Dr Johnson, "A Tonne of a Man." Light-blue-safari-suited, and with a perpetual smile on his genial face, he was not a small-townsman's idea of a Professor. Where was the typical/put-on gravitas? Even at seminars he raised expectations of a very different kind in people who knew him. He meticulously cultivated the image of the un-pompous professor. He was erudite, of course; but never weighed the audience down with the weight of his scholarship. He never threw around his weight, which if he had, would have caused serious damage to those who came his way.

    There were many of us who would try to imitate his inimitable delivery style, interspersed as they would invariably be with French, Portuguese and such other exotic words and phrases, and of course the mandatory whistles, and songs, and laugh both at our failure and his typicality. There were new visitors to the ASRC who found his surname unpronounceable: it would range from "sikuira" to "sekira" and so on.

    To many of us he was always a popular pop-culture person. When my colleague directed a refresher course at Delhi University on Popular Culture, I requested her to get in touch with Isaac and ensure that he spoke at least once. I still remember my injunction:
    "he must come; he is THE 'popular culture' in India."

    Unfortunately, that must have been the time when he was getting unwell, and avoided journeys. Once when I told him about Indian Nonsense verse, he asked me to look up an edition of Hyderbadi limericks which he had either edited or co-edited with someone. I never got to see the book. Losing Isaac one has lost a unique figure among academics in India. Yes, there was and will always be only one Isaac Sequeira.

    On Behalf of Dr. Sumanyu Satpathy,
    Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006
    To: iaclals@yahoogroups.com

    Anonymous said...

    Just now I got back from the funeral service that lasted for about an hour & half, did not go to the burial since I had to get back to work. The service was very solemn & dignified attended by his family, friends & academics mostly his students & admirers. It was very christian catholic service in the St Joseph's Cathedral built in the mid 1800s. There was reading but mostly from the Bible & towards the end some family members read out.

    Was also able to get a last glimpse of our friend who looked still very fresh inside the coffin with flowers all around.

    Kim Reddy [kimreddy@yahoo.com]

    Anonymous said...

    Attended Professor Sequeira's funeral service last evening at a packed St.Joseph's Cathedral.
    The eulogies were read by his grand-nephew, grand-niece and his niece, Muriel.Mrs. Audrey Cordeiro, Professor Sequeira's dear childhood friend and neighbour Leslie Cordeiro's wife, also recalled the love,warmth, wit and earnestness which Prof Sequeira radiated and the joy he brought to their lives over the last five decades or so.
    The entire ASRC family was there, as were dozens of other admirers--relatives, friends, students, former colleagues, former and current bureaucrats, Urdu academics and writers--it was indeed a fitting farewell to a man who sometimes described himself as "a catholic with a small 'c' and a capital 'C' ".

    The Forum for Modern Thought headed by Mr. Qadeer uz ZamaaN is holding a Condolence Meeting in memory of Professor Sequeira and his dear old friend and colleague of many decades who passed away recently, Professor Syed Sirajuddin, on September 18 at the Salar Jung Hall, Nizam College, Hyderabad.

    Satyanarayana Y.

    John Oliver Perry said...

    I sent this to Subbarayadu in Hyderabad when he informed me of the sad news... it was subesequently posted by subba on the IACLALS website, so I tought it also belongs here.... ATB John Oliver Perry

    Dear Subba,

    Yes, certainly and sadly, with full and positive appreciation, I "... and Sue will join us all in a Requiem for Isaac Sequeira." He was a wonderful teacher for so many, including his professional peers and someone like me who learned from him much about India, especially certain aspects of its theater scene. And we all so much enjoyed his seriously and melodically whistling of various kinds of Indian and other music-- quite an amazing talent he developed in that line and much needed to broaden the scope of cultural understanding, not merely for foreigners like me.

    As you say, among Isaac's most tangible gifts was supporting, contributing to and simply maintaining until almost his last breath the enormously influential institution of ASRC, which, I now suppose and hope, has found in Siddiq Ali another manager who will take on that crucial role. The institution in its many manifestations has indeed been crucial throughout its history for demonstrating and facilitating not only the richness of Amero-Indian cross-cultural educational understanding but also simply for providing fine scholarly resources and seminar venues for academics and public intelllectuals throughout India, and, of course, especially those fortunate to live in the intense intellectual environment of Hyderabad.

    I envy you all there the privileges you have enjoyed of the long and productive and ever cheerful life of dear Isaac Sequeiros, whose spirit can rest in peaceful certainty that what he created and sustained continues among us all for the imaginable future.

    May peace and love, justice and hope for all, keep spreadng onward and outward from the reality of his living in and among us,


    Anonymous said...

    Dear Tahir, I was deeply saddened by the news of Isaac's death.
    He will be greatly missed by the entire ASRC community.
    Fond regards, Gail Minault

    Anonymous said...

    Subject: MELUS tribute to isaac

    Dear Friends
    Following the sad demise of Isaac a void has been created in our association and we have to cope with this loss. How do we pay a tribute to someone like Isaac who played a key role not only in our organization but also in shaping the careers of so many of us? Some suggestions have come in which I am sharing with you . Please give me your opinion so that we may take decision accordingly.

    In the first place, it is suggested that the next publication (papers of 2005 which are still in the works) be dedicated to Isaac. Secondly, we have a cash prize for the best paper presented at our conferences. I have informally discussed these points with a few people and it is felt that the first will not be problematic -- we can dedicate the Landmarks volume to Isaac.

    As for the second, it would be a good idea, something like the Reddick Prize. But we need to have fixed rules for the competition. (any volunteers for the job?) What if we have the prize only for the younger scholars -- say upper age limit 40? And office-bearers and organizers of the conference will not be eligible. And whatever other rules we deem fit. But somebody please frame the rules and we could discuss them.

    We would need a corpus fund for the prize. Say about 20,000, if we wish to give a prize for 1,000 annually. The interest would be used as prize. Some individuals have already come forward to offer contributions towards the corpus. Tutun has very kindly offered to contribute. I would like to do so, too. Richard Cohen is willing to chip in. So, I am sure would some of Isaac's friends abroad. We just need to sound them.

    Anyway, let me have your opinion on this and we can act further. I attach below an obituary that USEFI asked me to write for him.
    Manju Jaidka

    ISAAC SEQUEIRA ( 5 JAN 1930 – 7 SEPT 2006 )

    "His life was gentle, and the elements
    So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
    And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'"

    He could rub shoulders with the highest of the high. He could sympathize with the lowest of the low. He could share a throaty laugh with scholars recently embarked on the professional trail but he was also at ease with veterans in the game. On Sunday mornings he was part of the church choir; in the afternoon he would visit the Widows Home to spread the sunshine of his bonhomie. He could swim like a champ. He could sing, he could whistle. He had a sense of humor few could beat. And an appetite for the good things of life – good friends, good food, good wine, music, popular culture, drama, cinema, and – yes, of course – cricket! That was Isaac Sequeira.

    How, and in what terms, does one measure the worth of a man? Mark Antony had once lamented that the good is oft interr'd with the bones. Not so in this case. The good that Isaac did is all around us. Monuments of his selfless service to education, to American Studies, to society at large, are scattered everywhere. Take for instance, any university department in the country, and one may easily find several senior professors whose lives have been touched, whose careers have been shaped, in one way or another, by Isaac Sequeira. Take his undeniable dedication to the American Studies. When the discipline was totally abandoned by the powers that be, it was he who held the fort, not for any personal gain but for a deep conviction that institutions are to be nurtured; they cannot and should not be abandoned callously. ASRC would have perished many years ago, had Isaac Sequeira not been at the helm to keep it going. There are many other milestones, many landmarks associated with Isaac, scattered across the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. DCH, for instance, the amateur theatre group of Hyderabad with which he was associated. Or the Poetry Society or the Music Club of Hyderabad which he founded with like-minded people. Or Nizam Club, where he entertained visiting friends and scholars every so often. Can Hyderabad ever be the same? Can the world ever be the same for those who knew him and loved him?

    Isaac's departure marks the end of an era. The end of the golden age of American Studies in India . Associated with the discipline right from its inception, he saw it through its difficult days to the very last. ASRC as an institution came to be linked inseparably with him. With his departure yet another chapter of American Studies in India is closed for ever. But his contribution to American Studies will never be forgotten.

    There were other achievements too. About a decade ago, when some of us wanted to float a new academic organization, he was equally enthusiastic and MELUS-India was born – a society dedicated to the study of multi-ethnic literatures of the U.S. He was a Patron and attended ALL of our conferences. Last year, when we proposed that we float a parallel organization for world literatures, he again supported the move and MELOW came into being. The two organizations, under his guidance, have been thriving and now have an established international network (website www.melus-melow.org).

    That was a man who once told me that Isaac means "smiling face". I did not bother to check it out for he could never be wrong. In any case, the name suited him to the T as he was always smiling. Did he ever have any worries? Any personal problems? No one could know -- because his generosity, his magnanimity, his greatness transcended them all. There was nothing small or mean or petty about him. Through close to three decades he was a friend, philosopher and guide to me, although I playfully continued to call him Unc. Sometimes he was Unca Scrooge. He took it all in his genial stride. If I wanted professional advice, he was there. If I ever needed a shoulder to weep on, his were large and broad, and always available. He was a person one could count on, a solid pillar the empty spaces could lean on. Where will the spaces go now, Unc?

    How does one thank you, Unc, for all that you did? For making the world a better place, for your generosity, love and affection. I had got accustomed to basking in the warmth and affection that you radiated. Thank you for all those rich, shared moments that I will hold close to my heart. For being a super human being, a 'dharmatma', a role-model that I, for one, can only try to emulate. Let your light continue to guide me – and scores like me – from wherever you are.

    Somewhere up there.
    And smiling!

    Dr. Manju Jaidka

    Anonymous said...

    Attended the Condolence Meeting held last evening at Nizam College, Hyderabad, organized by the Department of English Nizam College and the Forum for Modern Thought and Literature, to pay homage to Professor Syed Sirajuddin and Professor Isaac Sequeira. The meeting was presided over by the well-known social activist and political scientist, B. Narsing Rao. V.K.Bawa, former bureaucrat, social activist and Director of the Centre for Deccan Studies recalled his long association with both the deceased professors and their contribution to diverse fields--poetry, music,drama and criticism.
    Professor Shiv K kumar, academic, poet and writer also spoke in glowing terms about Professor Sriajuddin and Professor Sequeira and his long friendship with two of the finest scholars, associates and companions he's had over the last many decades.
    Academic and poet, Hoshang Merchant, Professor Yousuf Kamal, Syed Imtiazuddin, Professor Leela Narayan and theatre activist,Shankar Melkote were among the other speakers at the meeting.
    Professor Sequeira's nieces and members of Professor Sirajuddin's family also attended the meeting.

    Satyanarayana Y

    "Haafiza mard-e-nikunaam na meerad hargiz
    murdah aanast ke naamash ba_niku'i na burand"

    my own coarse translation:
    "ai Haafiz the virtuous never die
    dead are those who don't take their name"

    Rasna Bhushan said...

    When I spotted Isaac's photo in the Hindu I thought he was in the news for receiving some well-deserved award, but a second later I was shocked to read it was a funeral announcement.
    Having met him at a poetry reading only very recently and having received his usual hearty whack on my back accompanied by a clap of laughter and the jolly " Hi, lovely to see you", it is very difficult to believe that I will not again encounter that enthusiastic greeting from the ever-smiling Isaac.
    Hours of work at the ASRC library always held out the pleasure of knowing that I'd take a break and have a stimulating chat with Isaac in his office. We'd discuss the Centre's future, talk about how it could be saved, discuss poetry, books, theatre and jazz music in particular and then amble out to the canteen for lunch and tea. It was Isaac who was the first academic in Hyderabad who invited me to give a couple of slide-shows and talks on art at ASRC and who also awarded me a month's stipended research on Indian women artists at ASRC. His enthusiasm for culture and his generosity with his knowledge and help is of course legendary.
    One can hardly imagine any literary or significant music event in this city sans Isaac's involved presence. In fact, when I had the idea of "curating music" at a local pub, I was very nervous as there had been no precedent of such an experiment and many felt it might be a disaster. It was Isaac who let out a whoop of excitement and said it was a great idea. He was there every Sunday, digging into his lamb steak, listening with his keen connoisseur's ear and always turned each session into one of participation by adding wonderful bits of historical information on the music.
    Twenty seven years back, Isaac introduced me to Prof. Birje Patil ( who has also written a tribute here) who was here to stage 'The Crucible' . Rehearsing the intense emotions of the drama created a bond between us all that was lasting and I will always be grateful to Isaac for gifting to me a presence as warm as himself in the form of Birje Patil. Birje, who was then Dean of the Arts Faculty invited me to act again in the Baroda production of 'The Crucible' and was to me during my years there what Isaac was here in Hyderabad, a source of great support and encouragement.
    One could talk to Isaac about almost everything; wittily, casually and seriously.
    He had that rare quality : of feeling an involvement with people around him.
    I'm reading an anthology of stories around music that I would have lent Isaac. This quote is for him:

    "Now for our six month's voyage-- how prepare?
    You come on shipboard with a landman's list
    Of things he calls convenient: so they are!
    An India screen is pretty furniture,
    A piano-forte is a fine resource,
    All Balzac's novels occupy one shelf.
    The new edition fifty volumes long."

    And a line by Kurt Vonnegut that Isaac would have guffawed at and followed up with some insightful comment on Vonnegut:
    " I have often wondered what music is and why we love it so"

    I will miss him. (Isaac, not Vonnegut!)
    Rasna Bhushan

    Anonymous said...

    To Sir With Love, by
    Sachidananda Mohanty

    Actor, director, musician, teacher, mentor , exponent of popular culture and bon vivant, Isaac Sequeira passed away on September 7, 2006, after an eventful and distinguished career spanning four decades in India and abroad. He was the doyen of American Studies in the country and helped save the A.S.R.C. and its priceless collections. He will be remembered as a man whose love for literature matched his zest for life.

    An alumnus of All Saints School, and later the Nizam College, young Isaac’s mind was not in the sciences: he excelled in dramatics, music and long distance swimming. He represented Osmania University several times as a long-distance swimmer and habitually swum around the five kilometer stretch of Hussain Sagar .

    At the Higher Secondary, he stood first in English throughout the state and after graduation, he taught at the Little Flower High School. As a private candidate, he earned the unusual distinction of topping the university in M.A. English literature.

    Sequeira picked up an early interest in music from his mother who was a singer in the church. He studied a difficult instrument like violin and became fond of the harmonica.

    Joining the faculty of the English department of Osmania University, Sequeira quietly proved his mettle as a teacher and endeared himself to his colleagues and students. Laurels and awards quickly followed. He was the Fulbright Smith-Mundt scholar at the University of Utah in 1966-67; Ph.D. from the same university 1967-1970; Academic Associate at the American studies Research Centre, Hyderabad, 1973-1975;Professor in 1982, UGC National Lecturer 2985-86;Dean, faculty of Arts, Osmania University 1986;Visiting Professor at Bowling Green University, Ohio and finally, the American Studies Research Fellow in the USA in 1989.

    A widely traveled man, with more than four books and over 80 research papers to his credit, Dr. Sequeira covered many disciplines such as music, literature and the visual arts. An active member of Hyderabad’s cultural circuit, he was closely linked with a number of institutions such as Max Muller Bhavan, Alliance Francaise, Poetry Society of Hyderabad, and Dramatic circle of Hyderabad. He took an avid interest in Urdu Literature as well.

    It’s his wide range of interests that made his lectures so engrossing. “A good teacher” felt Sequeira, “is like an acteur manqué” and should basically function as an actor. Unfortunately, he found today’s teaching “too jargon-ridden, too cerebral.” A good teacher ought to be “interested in people.” “I like being a student of my students.” More than the subject matter, it’s important “to convey the enthusiasm for the subject. In my lectures, I bring in, whenever I can the visual arts and music.”

    It’s only natural that Sequeira’s love of people made him an ardent exponent of popular literature and popular culture. He was happy that at least in the West, the prejudice against popular culture was on the wane and today over 2000 American universities offer courses in popular culture. A lover of the Westerns of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey, Sequeira contributed scholarly papers on the Mushaira in Hyderabad and the Carnival in Goa. He was happy to see that in India, the trends are encouraging with works being done on the light verse, science fiction and crime literature.

    Acting and direction are two other fields in which Sequeira excelled. In school, his outstanding performance was in James Flicker’s Hassan of Baghdad, directed by Lilamani Naidu, Sarojini Naidu’s sister.

    What was the key to Professor Sequeira’s success? I was fortunate to have been his student and knew him since 1977. I believe he had peace of mind, faith in his convictions, an innate love of humanity, a sense of optimism, inner strength and good will towards all. Above all, he cherished high values of life, had an infectious joie de vivre and was unfailingly gracious towards all.

    Isaac Sequeira was more than a great professional. He was a rare human being.

    Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty
    Professor, Department of English
    University of Hyderabad
    Hyderabad 500046(A.P)
    The Hindu, Metro Plus Hyderabad, Sept, 9, 2006

    Anonymous said...


    To Sir, with love
    appears in Hindu Metro Plus Hyderabad, Sep 16, 2006

    Anonymous said...

    'Kator re Bhaji!': Sequeira Signs Off

    On a rain-swept evening on 29 July this year at the Secunderabad Sailing Club I met with Sir – he was always 'Sir' to me – for the last time. To the tempest of the angry Hussain Sagar lake in the background, Sequeira was to introduce me on behalf of the Poetry Society of Hyderabad to read from my debut volume of poems 'Last Bus to Vasco: Poems from Goa' (2006).

    In some ways Sequeira's life was pretty poetic itself. The youngest of 5 children, he lived on his own terms, did what he most enjoyed – made a career of it, in fact – and was loved and respected by one and all. Though he hailed from Sequeira-vaddo in Saligao, Goa, Sequeira was born in Abids, Hyderabad on 5 Jan 1930. All his life he travelled widely. 'He was a true humanist, a teacher, multifaceted and rare,'says Professor Rana Nayar, University of Panjab.

    At ease in Latin which he quoted that evening, Sequeira would often regale us in the ASRC auditorium, Hyderabad, in its heyday in the 90's, with passing quotations from Italian, Greek and Portuguese. From there it was a short distance to his whipping out his mouth organ and playing a blues tune, for the by-now unforgettable lecture-dems on American music. Though he had over 80 research articles to his credit it was his book 'Popular Culture: East and West' (1991) which best defined him in the scope of its discussion from the Goan carnival to Bob Dylan.

    He had the gift of making you believe in yourself. His twinkling eyes made everything seem alright. He spurred you on to what you could become – to perfect yourself. In Chandigarh for the MELUS conference at Panjab University in March 2005, after playing for him the customary Goan dulpods which he loved, he pointed out that my guitar recital of a Giuliani 'Andante' needed brushing up. He was a connoisseur of the arts and everything of taste.

    Sequeira was a father-figure for so many of us. And on the 29th evening he quipped that he had now achieved 'grandfather' status since he had taught Professor Lakshmi Chandra, CIEFL Hyderabad, my own PhD supervisor, back in '71 at the Nizam college, Hyderabad. 'His dedication to the ASRC, his willingness to listen and to help,' are fondly remembered by Professor Chandra. 'An era ended with him. He was a person of the first magnitude, an institution by himself,' says Ms. Tanutrushna Panigrahi, Fulbright scholar and Assistant Professor of English, Bhubaneshwar.

    'Books, music and food, these were his loves – in that order. He used to encourage people who wanted to study and helped them financially too,' recalls Mrs Marie Sequeira, wife of Sequeira's nephew Hector. 'On Sunday mornings he was part of the church choir; in the afternoon he would visit the Widow's Home to spread the sunshine of his bonhomie,' reminisces Manju Jaidka in her moving tribute on the net ( http://dearer.blogspot.com/).

    And on the 29th I left the company of those partaking of the banquet of snacks and hastened into the plush hall. I wanted to compose myself for the reading from my poems which he had enjoyed immensely for the 'sights and sound of Goa.' There in the vast hall was Sir, a lone figure, in his light grey safari, proud in his ideals and life long values, already sitting on one of the chairs. Always conscious of time, Sir was there before time near the dais. Alone-ness, however, was no stranger to Sequeira - he remained a bachelor.

    I seized those precious moments with him and he asked me about my work. I told him about my poetry reading in Calangute, Goa the week before. He was saddened by the dwindling numbers who actually spoke or understood Konkani these days. So full of his joie de vivre, he once more urged me on to write more and continue what I was doing. And after a pause he burst out in Konkani 'Kator re bhaji!' the colloquial idiomatic expression to roughly mean 'Carry on! Press ahead with what you are doing!'

    Sequeira would mean that for all us who knew him, to realize our dreams as he would want us to. The partial lunar eclipse on the night he left us on 7 September must yield to a new day imbued with the spirit of his vision and his values.

    Dr Brian Mendonça
    Editor, ELT
    Oxford University Press
    Educational Division
    YMCA Library Building
    1 Jai Singh Road
    New Delhi 110 001


    Anonymous said...

    Sequeira’s 'Arietta' : Hearing the Silence

    Spending a quiet morning in Delhi in memory of my mentor and friend. Going down the years thinking how much he meant to me. Helping me through are Beethoven’s last 3 piano sonatas (Rudolf Serkin, pianist). How much Sequeira would have enjoyed listening to them. As the notes cascade over each other I realise Sequeira was an interpreter of life like Serkin is of Beethoven’s music. Music moved him, pushed him, challenged him towards the absolute.

    'Beethoven’s thirty–two sonatas were written over almost 30 years, in the manner of a gigantic clash between Beethoven and his instrument, in which his creative genius expressed itself condensed, decanted, like nowhere else,’ writes Andre Tubeuf. Sequeira’s life too was a constant encounter with music, whether seeing similarities between music and literature, teasing out the jazz forms of Vachel Lindsay, or speaking on the cadence of an urdu nazm or ghazal.

    On October 10, 1991 I shared the dais with him at the Golay Memorial hall at the University of Poona, Pune. He was to speak on ‘Literature and Music’ and I on Mozart. This was to commemorate the bicentenary of Mozart’s death in 1791. Though we did play the sprightly opening movement of Mozart’s ‘40’ i.e. Symphony Number 40 in G minor, Isaac’s favourite was always Albinoni’s stately Adagio for strings and organ in G minor.

    In my MPhil days when he breezed in to the Department of English of the University of Poona to speak at the refresher courses, he strode like a colossus, having a distinct penchant for that deep blue shirt of his. He filled the room with his presence.

    Awed by his deep appreciation of music as an elixir of life -- I used to pick up cheap cassettes of compilations of western classical music – from Alurkar music house, Karve road, to listen to, in a bid to develop my fledgling interest. When I showed one of these to him he rubbished my purchase saying I should listen to the entire work, not fragments of it.

    We somewhat made amends by taking in 'Ghasiram Kotwal' when it was staged at Nehru Memorial hall, Pune after which we settled down to hearty sizzlers at ‘The Place’ (Near Manneys) with Sequeira holding forth on the finer points of venison and lamb.

    In Hyderabad he helped me with my paper on ‘The Use of Music in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral’ (CIEFL Bulletin, 6.1 June 1994). At one of the various sessions discussing the role of the Chorus in the play he promptly started singing the ‘Dies Irae’ (Day of Wrath) in Gregorian chant in Latin with the emphasis at the appropriate places:
    doh si doh la si sol la la

    He took a keen interest in opera. But his attempts to cultivate a liking for this form in his students met with little success as he recounted to me. All he got once after a sublime aria was a shocked silence among the class and a brave voice which perked up and said ‘Sir, yeh aurat kyoon chillah rahee heh?!’

    When I moved to Delhi in 2000 and worked Sundays as an announcer on AIR I used to host the ‘Music for Leisure’ slot in the afternoon. Oftentimes if we were broadcasting a piece I knew he’d enjoy, I used to call him up and press my mobile to the playback speakers in the studio. Vivified and in a hearty post-prandial mood he would hold forth on the piece in question – Wagner, Delius or Brahms – and garnish it with an anecdote.

    Though I had begun my working life, our interaction never waned. Whenever I used to buzz down to Hyderabad I would make it a point to see him. And take a photo with him. And lately I noticed, depending on which side of him I was standing, his arm used to reach behind me holding me close to his side. Yet taking the utmost care that his hand was not caught on camera.

    The infinite vision of Beethoven’s Arietta of Sonata No.32 in C minor, Opus 111 (CD, Sony 5128692000) helps me cope with the absence. In its melding of polarities, from the limpid to the ethereal, it is the work of a genius. Roughly 18 minutes, it seems to span a lifetime of purpose. A heroic statement, a bridge across the river of time, a meditation on the lanes, between this world and the beyond:

    Only when you drink from the river of silence
    shall you indeed sing…
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs
    then shall you truly dance.

    -Kahlil Gibran 'The Prophet'

    brian mendonca

    Mohamed Taher said...

    Isaac Sequeira Prize:
    See the info about the award, including the guidelines and the application process: CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS THE ISAAC SEQUEIRA AWARD

    North America:
    Amritjit Singh

    India and other countries:
    Manju Jaidka

    How much are each of you willing to contribute? If you like I can send one check from all of us. I would like to contribute $50-100 or Rs. 2500-5000. Please let me know or write directly to Manju.

    Taher, could you send this message to all those you are in touch with?

    If you would like to make a small contribution toward establishing an Isaac Sequeira Best Paper Prize within MELUS-India, you could send me a small check made out to me or send a check directly to Manju.

    I am happy to combine contributions from Isaac’s North American friends to send one check to Manju that might save some bank transfer costs for MELUS-India.

    Great idea!
    Keep it up!
    Nibir Ghosh

    Dear Taher and Manju
    please let me have the address so I can send the cheque.
    premakumari Dheram
    "prema kumari" dheram@yahoo.com

    Anonymous said...

    Dear Dr. Taher
    I apologize for I have been slow in responding to your e-mail about the sudden, shocking and saddening death of Isaac Sequira.

    Although I left India in 1996 and did not see Isaac after that, Isaac was a person I can never forget. As I write this, I have a clear picture of his face in my mind. But I remember him as much more than a visual memory. During my tenure as Director of ASRC, I could clearly observe the large contribution he made to the institution and to its place in assisting scholars and others in their quest to understand America.

    He may not have had an official position then but he worked tirelessly with scholars new to the field to help them with their projects of research. Additionally, he was in dialogue with senior scholars. For this, he employed his deep knowledge of the United States, its literature, history, culture, landscape, even its songs.

    One of the things that made ASRC such a unique institution in India is that it existed as a resource on the United States which scholars and others could draw on or not as they wished. Information on America was available there, imperfections, warts and high points also. Isaac was a major facilitator in helping persons access that information. At conferences and seminars, he was always available. I remember him helping and encouraging all those he worked with. Such enthusiasm!

    Isaac was a man of humor and seeming infinite patience.

    At a more personal level, I will always be grateful for the trip he took to Goa with me and my wife Judi. There, through him, we experienced that unique part of India in a way few foreigners could, meeting his family and friends, going to off-the-track places, and eating local food.

    Shortly before he died I was in correspondence with him, learning about his efforts to keep the work of ASRC afloat. While that project ultimately failed, his memorial remains the memory of his heroic effort to help two great cultures understand one another. In a world of tensions, strife, ignorance and misunderstanding, what a noble effort!


    John Hurd

    somusagar said...

    I deeply condole the death Oh Professor Sequeira of earstwhile ASRC.I remember the day 13October,1995 when I presented my post-doctoral research paper on "The Novel as Bestseller: the Fictional art of Harold Robbins" in the ASRC conference Hall. Prof. Sequera was presiding over the session in which I was given an hour an half to finish my lecture. Indeed!!! A great soul!

    Carol Curtis said...

    To Isaac's Family,

    I knew Isaac when he was a student in Utah. He was doing graduate work while I was an undergraduate student. He was always so warm and friendly. He was everyone's friend. I was traveling through Asia in 1971 and stayed with Isaac and his family for several days, and had close contact with both Isaac and several of his nieces for years, I just learned today by doing a web search - May 18, 2007 that Isaac passed away several months ago. My condolences to his family and all his friends and co workers.

    Thank you, Carol Curtis

    Anonymous said...

    I am saddened to read just now, August of 2007, of the death of a great spirit. His memory strengthens all us who believe in Matthew Arnold's definition of a gentleman: "all sweetness and light".

    Jerry Prillaman. Former Cultural Counselor, 1986 to 1990.

    Hydrocodone said...

    xorZni The best blog you have!

    JohnBraun said...

    RK7Uz2 write more, thanks.

    Anonymous said...

    I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

    Sorry for offtopic

    Anonymous said...

    Having been a part of the Online Universal Work Marketing team for 4 months now, I’m thankful for my fellow team members who have patiently shown me the ropes along the way and made me feel welcome


    Masters Research Paper said...

    Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.