Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Scenes from the Goa Lit Fest

I didn't take a camera. This is the first thing worth noting, because there were so many things I wanted to photograph - the ship (breaking?) yard we passed from the airport into town, the buildings, the signs (I don't remember what they are now; photographic evidence would have helped) and - oh! all kinds of things that I have to work at remembering.


The Black Sheep Bistro in Panjim was a second home during the festival. I don't know what it says about me that I didn't even explore other places. Sheep-like? Don't say that.

But the cocktails! The Negroni! The food! And the company. There were photographs, but I'm not showing them to you.


Meeting old friends and making new ones. That unique way in which one misses friends recently made, that old hostel-like sense of intense, sudden friendships made, that appear more lasting and inevitable than our everyday acquaintances. We can say things we never could, in our daily avatars.


How our circle extends to at most a dozen 'kindred spirits'. How we make even our literary lives small and manageable because there is so little time, so much to talk about. 

(Or maybe it's just me).


The guys in the coffee lounge must have had many opportunities to evesdrop on our very indiscreet conversations. I wonder what they made of the things they heard. We must have sounded shockingly unliterary. 

On the last day, when I got up to read, I was overjoyed to see them in the audience. 


Three writers had their little children with them. The kids became friends with each other and there was a proper baccha party that began at breakfast and went on until the night ended. 

Every morning, there was also a workshop for children and as we sat at breakfast, we watched as school children in their different uniforms, looking shiny and eager, arrived.

One morning, the three kids stood on the sofa by the picture windows in the dining room, as the school children trooped past, and waved at them. Some of those children, looking self-conscious and slightly sheepish and too-old-for-this-sort-of-thing, waved back. 

It was hard to figure out who felt more on view, like creatures in a zoo.


With the best of intentions, I intended to go to the bird watching session one morning. I was up, but I didn't make it. In the four days I've been away, I've had word from my son, who has seen all kinds of birds and has been looking forward to my detailed, if ill-informed, report from this session. I don't know how to break the news to him that I preferred to rest my old bones instead of identifying birds, and picking shells and pebbles.


If I ever switch careers -which I am very liable to do - I have decided I must spend some time in my life being a personal shopper. 

For one thing, I am much better at picking great stuff for other people, and for another - as I found out when I briefly worked as a production assistant for an ad filmmaker in another lifetime - there's nothing more satisfying than spending other people's money.

This one evening, we left the ICG just in the nick of time to get to Wendell Rodericks' studio. They were about to lock up for the evening, but my friend AJ sent a few of us as the advance guard, to browse and faff around while the real shoppers turned up.

We did this, but perhaps not as convincingly as the people in the shop would have liked, because in a bit they started to turn the lights off. Luckily, I managed to persuade them to hang on for a few, and the rear guard appeared and sales were made.

I might have been a bit rude about how things looked on people.


More shopping happened. I bought a bottle of Amrut Single Malt, which is not available in Hyderabad. 

Let's not even talk about the books, okay? If clothes were not such an important part of being at a literary festival, I would travel with a half-empty suitcase just to accommodate the books I want to buy.


So a thing that happened was that some authors did not have their books available at the festival's official book store (Because of Reasons). These were first books, and needed to be there, so it was a bit of a bummer for them that people who interacted with them couldn't also buy copies of their books so they could, you know, get them inscribed and stuff.


My chosen method of inscribing my book has been puzzling many people.

I noticed that people had been buying my book but choosing not to get them signed. This has been puzzling me.

There may be a syllogism here but I refuse to see the connection - if, indeed, there is one.


In news unrelated to the festival, my son tells me that he has borrowed Purple Hibiscus from the library. This pleases me, not because he's showing the same signs of pretension I displayed when I was his age, but because this might mean that he has finally put behind him the tendency to cling to the books of his early childhood - the tri-annual re-reads of Potter and Riordan et al.


I miss everyone I hung out with. I want to pack them all up in a suitcase and bring them back home with me.

This feeling I am left with is what I love about festivals and residencies.

1 comment:

david jairaj said...

Amrut Single Malt - WTG and Cheers!