The lush green countryside in Goa with its ubiquitous and essential palm trees, the golden sandy beaches on the Arabian Sea, the busy town of Donna Paula, a river cruise, nights lit up by fairy lights, lots of singing and dancing formed the backdrop for the IASA conference.
The best part of the conference was meeting so many people from all states of India and Australia. I enjoyed such stimulating conversations about every topic imaginable; exchanged information and ideas; and became better acquainted with other participants in India and Australia, which was without a doubt the highlight of the five-day conference for me.
I was extremely impressed by the diversity of the topics in the
presentations that connect India and Australia, as well as by the depth of
of Australia and Australian literature both past and contemporary by those who presented the best papers.
At the Inaugural Session held at the University of Goa, Professor Santosh K Sareen, President of IASA gave a welcome address, this was followed by an introduction to the conference by Professor Darvesh Gopal, General-Secretary of IASA. Dr Lachlan Strahan, the Australian Deputy High Commissioner for India addressed the audience on behalf of the Australian High Commission about these connections as well as the differences and challenges facing both India and Australia. AIC Board Member, Professor of English at the University of Queensland, author and editor of a number of books on life narrative, Australian literature and Australian Studies, Professor Gillian Whitlock, addr essed the audience on behalf of the Australia India Council (AIC) and told us of developments, plans and goals for the future. We all lamented the news that Professor Bruce Bennett was not able to attend and wish him well.
Dr Nina Caldeira gave a vote of thanks and we then moved on to the Conference Dinner at ‘A Lua’ Lawns, Meces-Goa. Before leaving for the dinner I caught up with Santosh and Darvesh, as well as Heather Neate and Asha Das from the AIC.
At ‘A Lua’ I surprised myself by dancing under the stars and fairy lights. The very professional person singing turned out to be the talented Dr Yanthan, one of the conference delegates who presented a paper. More very talented and professional performers were among the researchers from the North East of India, Renembo, Mridusmita and Irene. I am not talented at either singing or dancing and was reluctant to display my ineptitude but the company was very persuasive and I ended up having the time of my life, dancing to the fantastic music by the band and the impromptu performers. I discovered that young Indian men can really rock, especially those from the Punjab. I’m told that ‘Punjabi Rocks!’; though those from the North East and Delhi moved just as well to music ranging from Kenny Rodgers to Elvis to Bollywood. Even some of the more courageous professors joined in the dancing. There was no doubt that everyone on the dance floor was having the ‘time of their lives’.
And that was only the first day – more later about my two weeks with authors, editors, academics, friends and colleagues in India—the writing, reading, walks, talks, music, dancing, cinema, sight-seeing, dining, socialising, presenting, discussions and book launches.
Writing Tip for Today.
Write the music you hear, whether it is in your mind, broadcast on the radio, playing on a CD, music from a film, or even singing. Music can alter one’s mood. Try writing to different styles of music, vary the tempo and beat. It is not writing about the music but the sound – what you hear, where it takes you, how it makes you feel. Write to music regularly and try reaching for the metaphysical.