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Abar Dekha hobey

- by Henry Jardin

I want to thank the members of the US-Kolkata Literary Exchange (USKLE) for their wonderful commitment and initiative in coming to Kolkata in January for what was to have been the 2008 Kolkata Book Fair. While we were all disappointed that the Fair was cancelled at the last minute, the USKLE members showed great sensitivity and flexibility in continuing an extensive schedule of literary events and interactions

US-Kolkata Literary Exchange (USKLE) delegation group with poet Subodh Sarkar in front of Tagore’s house in Shantineketan, West Bengal, India.
Joy Harjo, Suji Kim, Goutam Datta, (From front row right), Llyod Robson, Catherine Fletcher, Subodh Sarkar, Yusef Komunyakaa, Carolyn Forche, Craig Smith (From 2nd row right), Nathalie Handal & Ed Palvic (Last row).

USKLE's efforts, I believe, served to demonstrate the strong solidarity of the American poets and writers with the people of Kolkata and West Bengal, by still allowing everyone the opportunity to enjoy the artists' literary works, regardless of the absence of the Book Fair.

I know from talking to many people here that USKLE's willingness to continue in the face of so many challenges was widely appreciated and made a great impression on the local community. Given the millions of people that were reached through their presence, whether through local media coverage or directly in the many programs, USKLE contributed a great deal to the growing cultural relationship between India and the United States.

The USKLE participants went well beyond their roles as artists to serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States and I hope that on their return to the United States, they will serve in a similar role for Kolkata, West Bengal and for all of India. Ultimately, through adversity has come cultural opportunity.

Goethe wrote that "Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality." From the inspired efforts of the USKLE writers and poets, whatever barriers that may exist between India and the United States have further vanished in the artistic exchange that they have fostered.

In typical Bengali fashion, rather than saying good bye to someone, the expression often heard on parting here in Kolkata is "Abar Dheka Hobe," or "see you again." I know that statement best captures the sentiments of all the people in Kolkata for the USKLE members -- "Abar Dekha Hobay."

We hope you all will have an opportunity to return again very soon.

Henry Jardin

Henry V. Jardin: ( US Consul General, Kolkata August 2005- July 2008) Mr. Henry V. Jardine began his assignment as U.S. Consul General in Kolkata, India on August 10, 2005. He succeeds Mr. George N. Sibley who joined the U.S. Mission in Madagascar after a three-year stay in Kolkata. Mr. Jardine, who visited Kolkata frequently during his posting in Dhaka, unlike many other foreign dignitaries, is fond of Kolkata. He expressed his enthusiasm for this city calling Kolkata a "Mahanagar" upon their arrival on August 10, 2005. "I am excited about the great changes that have been happening in this region and in the relationship between the United States and India. It is a wonderful time to be in India," Jardine stated after joining Kolkata Embassy. Henry is a fluent Bengali speaker. He is an avid supporter of cultural exchange programs between the USA and India. Mr. Jardine joined the Foreign Service in 1995 and served as a Consular and Political Officer in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Bridgetown, Barbados. Prior to his work with the State Department, Mr. Jardine was an Infantry Captain in the United States Army. Mr. Jardine received a B.S. in Foreign Service from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.