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    Celebrated annually as International Francophonie day, March 20 marks the crescendo of a series of events organised by the Alliance Française. A rendezvous for lovers of the language, the Francophonie Festival is also a chance for new learners to discover its riches. “We want to demonstrate the depth of the French language, but most importantly the festival will show that French is about more than France, and that language can unite people around cultural values,” says Mikael de la Fuente, director of the city’s Alliance Française.
    Crossing borders
    Pointing out that there are over 270 million French speakers worldwide, and that it is the only language apart from English to be taught and spoken across all five continents, de la Fuente shares that the festival has been organised around ten words that show the ability of the French language to incorporate outside influences. The words have Flemish, Italian, Hawaiian, German and Arabic origins, showing, ‘how the French language can unite us’. Building on this theme, there are photography, theatre and short story-writing contests, as well as a lecture on Indian culture as shown through Francophone literature from Mauritius, which will be delivered by French teacher Lise Desceul on March 19.
    Join the fray
    Other highlights include interactive workshops, such as the comic book session organised by cartoonist Poltu Chatterji, on March 17. His workshop will begin with an introduction to French cartooning traditions. “Unlike most people, who consider it frivolous, the French take cartooning very seriously,” explains Chatterji. The workshop will progress to guiding participants in developing their own cartoon strip. “I have found that drawing cartoons is a great teaching tool. The aim is not to turn people into professional cartoonists (which cannot be done in a two-hour workshop!), but to have fun with the French language,” Chatterji elaborates. For thespians, there will be a theatre workshop on March 20, held by professor Abhishek Sundaravadanan, who plans to introduce participants to the work of classic French writers like Voltaire, Moliere and Beaumarchais.
    At Vasant Nagar. Details: 40808181

    —Maegan Dobson Sippy

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