My interests include:

Music: 'Classical music' (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, ... , Mahler, Sibelius, Elgar), traditional Irish (Seamus Ennis, ... ), Indian classical (Nikhil Banerjee, Ali Akbar Kahn, Vilayat Khan, Ram Narayan, Bismillah Khan, The Dagar (Druphad) family, Bhimsen Joshi, ... ) and traditional (especially the music of the Rajasthan region).


Literature, Books. Where to start? (Or finish!) I am greatly attracted to the work and lives of Marina Tsvetaeva:

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Anna Akhmatova:

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Boris Pasternak:

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and I try to read what I can about them; not in any systematic way (and I greatly regret not having Russian). Reading Marina Tsvetaeva always makes me feel that I don't know how to live; she had such courage and integrity.

A great discovery in 1999 was Vikram Seth's wonderful An Equal Music (which had introduced me to some Bach and Mozart that I had never listened to, and also to Venice ...), which in turn motivated me to read his monumental A Suitable Boy.

I love what I have read by Anita Desai:

Anita Desai.jpg  I have a letter from Anita Desai, which I treasure. When my wife and I brought Nikhil Banerjee to Ireland in June 1985, we produced a 16-page concert programme for the occasion. In that programme I included a brief excerpt from one of Anita Desai's short stories - The Accompanist from her collection of stories Games at Twilight - and only years later did I send her a copy of the programme. In my letter to her I wondered if she had ever heard Nikhil Banerjee, and in her hand written reply - which I've now put in the Nikhil Banerjee corner of my site - she told me that she had...

and R.K.Narayan.

Etty Hillesum's An Interupted Life must rank as one of the greatest pieces of writing.

How much more I could add...


Films: I try to see any and every - almost - foreign language film that comes to Dublin. My favourite film is probably Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali. It was at the IFI in recent years, for five nights only. I went for the first and final showings, and my deep regret was that I did not go for every one of those five nights. Should it ever come to Dublin again, then... (I once received a letter from Satyajit Ray; it's in the Nikhil Banerjee corner of my site.)

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Travel writing. So much to tell about... Let's just mention Alan Booth's The Roads to Sata (a wonderful tale of a 2000-mile walk through Japan).




Jam making, and the odd bit of cooking (once - many years ago now - I participated in a demonstration of Indian cooking, with three Indian women, and on behalf of the Ireland-India Cultural Society, in St. Catherine's College of Home Economics, Blackrock).


Sitting in my wife's garden on a warm summer's evening. Bliss...


In recent years, since the summer of 2003, swimming at Seapoint. In 2003 we kept it up 'till mid-October, the following year 'till mid November, then the following year, and the following one, right through the entire winter months. The regulars are a wonderful bunch of people, and the chat is always great. Many's the great mathematical thought I've had trying not to freeze in those waters...



Contact details. jbcosgrave at