Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Scenes from The Goa Lit Fest: Part II

My body clock has re-set itself to a different kind of a life in the last four days. Though I wake up at half past five, I look draggled and my eyes feel gritty from lack of sleep. I feel like those clothes the neighbours have left out overnight, limp with dew and (I was going to say a word but it would be inaccurate, so).

Goa had a different light. One morning, in the swimming pool, I watched the sun rise over the treeline and I can't remember when I ever stood in water and watched the sun rise. Probably never.


It was so much warmer in Goa. Post-breakfast, I wanted to flee to the leeward rooms at the ICG (if I wasn't at a session). I needed to check my column, see if the formatting was as it should be, and so I was in a friend's room to use her laptop. She had trees and shade on her balcony and she opened it out so we could all sit there. Me, I wanted the AC because it was already SO HOT. 

Once we repaired indoors, I arranged myself on the other bed and admired the trees outside. "I'm very disappointed in you," said K. "What kind of an RVite are you?" 

What can I tell you? I wanted the way the inside felt with the AC on, to match the way the outside looked. I'm shallow like that.


Talking about shallow, M was raving about a book of poetry he'd bought - the design, the cover, the illustrations, probably even the paper. "What the poems like?" I asked, not unreasonably. 

He hadn't read them. (Yet).


R & I went to the Gitanjali Gallery, which had a show (Simply Complex) by Pierre Legrand. In a lane nearby, the Gallery has another building where they display art. It's an old, Goan Hindu house but it looked so familiar in its architecture: floors that clearly used to be red oxide, but now are a mosaic of broken tiles; a central courtyard, with room looking inward (and with windows looking in rather than out); a backyard with a lovely swing, looking out onto the backs of neighbouring houses. We sat on the swing and talked about writers' residencies and how fantastic they would be in a place like that. Walking back in, I noticed a painted over piece of metal in the door that said 'Panjim Municipal House' and a number. There was also a CC TV camera high up on the wall.


At the market, R wanted prawn pickle, and it was a Sunday and the place selling it was going to close at 11.30. It is one of those old covered market places, with several ways in and out and if you don't keep a sharp look out for what's what, you could be cirlcing around yourself within minutes. 

We stopped, for the fifth time, to ask where this famous shop was. While the shopkeeper gave directions, I was busy trying to photograph two sleeping cats who looked absolutely adorable yin-yanged around each other. 

"Hurry!" the shopkeeper adjured us. "The place will close in a few minutes." And indeed, when we got there, the assistant seemed eager to give us what we wanted, so he could be done for the day, even though there were at least three other people waiting, with baskets laden with their Sunday shopping. 

On the way back, we paused for a minute to examine the still sleeping cats. "Take them!" the shopkeeper said. We took a photograph instead.


I've been reading Iain Banks' Raw Spirit, which is a book-length distillery tour in Scotland, but so funny and memorable that I was reading out bits from it to my son. 

So, because the single malts were so cheap in Goa, and because I had to raise a toast to Banks' spirit, I had a Lagavulin 16 years. 

Now, I would say that that marked me out as a drinker with taste and discrimination, but somehow, I got the feeling that some of my fellow writers didn't agree. (That's because they didn't see me with the Lagavulin).


Okay, fine. I drunk texted someone on the last night. But I was relieved to find I was not indiscreet.


On the last evening, I met an old friend whom I hadn't seen for a dozen years, more or less. In five minutes, we got each other up to speed on the crap decade we'd had and were happy to be done with that precis. No need to get all 'first in precis, then it full' like the Mahabharata about it, what?


This young poet from Singapore was a rock star. At the Governor's Reception, he stood out with his performance and so was invited to read on the last night as well. 

Now that's a tough call, because by 5pm everyone has mentally packed their brains and attention spans and want to be entertained. To interrupt the music and ask the scattered audience in the open air to pay attention one again to poetry is a tough ask and usually, one's heart would be wrung for the poet in question.

We needn't have worried. Phone in hand (where his poems were stored), J began to perform and all murmurs died and people turned their chairs towards him to listen.

Did I say he was a rock star?


D's daughter, S, had acquired a parandi, which she wore with great dignity. I asked her if she didn't feel like swinging it side to side so it wrapped around her body  - it was that long - and she looked me askance. We adults must look completely mad to kids.

A refused to say hello on the first morning I met her at breakfast, but she said goodbye with alacrity. Luckily for my sense of self-worth, the next day she greeted me as she would a long-lost friend.

The other A looked adorably serious at all times, intent on whatever was in front of him - food, a sheet of drawing paper - but apparently that attention was less than total. Someone said a name aloud, and because he thought they were talking about him, he said, rather sternly, "My name is A." Oops.


I won't dwell on the bathroom door at the hotel I was originally put up. It is the stuff of nightmares. 


They were still selling t-shirts, mugs and badges with last year's GALF drawing by Amruta Patil. Don't remember seeing anything with this year's art but I could be wrong.


I return from every lit fest grateful for living in a city without the literary chatter that must be unavoidable in Bombay or Delhi. Until the moment I next see other writers and wonder how I lived without the conversations I cannot have where I live.


AJ said...

How many drunk SMSs'did you send ?

Space Bar said...

AJ: Just the one? *she said anxiously*

david jairaj said...

(causing serious whiskey envy) this is the season for pouring drinks. sips of summer on thirsty lips.