Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

February 5, 2010

Days of Goa and Goan nights.

So many excellent presentations with two or three parallel sessions made it difficult to choose which to attend sometimes at the IASA 2010 conference.

Susanne Gervay chairing session with presenter Thamilarasi P

Susanne chairing session with presenter Jyoti Nandan

I chaired two sessions, the first included Susanne Gervay speaking about ‘Youth Literature: A Global Strategy for Social Justice’; Pam Macintyre’s digital storytelling presentation ‘Advance Australia (Un)Fair? Australian Identity in Award Winning Fiction for Young People’; Reema Sarwal discussing ‘A Cinderella for 21st Century Australia: Reading Tamaika’s Meta-Fictional Journey from The Princess of Shadows to the Queen of Quentaris’. Another presenter was slotted in at short notice and unfortunately had to give a shorter presentation, Purushottama Bilimoria narrated a visual presentation about ‘Desi Performative Arts in Australia: from Lightfoot to Creative Australian-Indian Dance Movements’, with reference to Anna Pavlova and others.

Sharon with Sarany Mukherjee Uni of Calcutta who presented a paper at the conference.

During the second session, Alice Healy presented “History is an Advanced Literary Art’, with reference to Kate Grenville, Inga Clendinnen, Kim Scott and Hazel Brown ; V. Lakshmanan referred to Bryce Courtnay’s The Power of One to discuss racism; Saranya Mukherjee spoke about Lucid Life: Slippery Truth using a re-vision of Malouf’s The Great WorldThe Conversation at Curlow Creek; Virender Pal presented his paper ‘Psychic Disintegration of Ivy: A study of Alexis Wright’s Plains of Paradise’. and



Sharon presents her paper and digital storytelling "Near Pavilions"


My own digital story-telling presentation ‘Near Pavilions’ was chaired by Makarand Paranjape, author of Sacred Australia published here by Cloud of Magellan (Melbourne) and in the National Library of Australia.

Sujata, Susanne, me and Meenakshi in the Garden at the International Centre Goa where we launched "Fear Factor Terror Incognito".

Following that afternoon session we had an al-fresco launch in the Centre gardens of a collection of stories from India and Australia Of Sadhus and Spinners edited by Santosh Sareen, Bruce Bennett, Susan Cowan and Asha Kanwar, which was launched by Richard Nile and the Indo-Aus anthology Fear Factor Terror Incognito. Sujata Sankranti and Susanne Gervay spoke about and read from Fear Factor Terror Incognito. The event was attended by editors, authors, conference delegates, Professors Sareen and Gopal; Australian professors and Dr Lachlan Strahan, Deputy High Commissioner for the Australian High Commission.

Goa Launch of Fear Factor Terror Incognito - Professor Sareen holding up a copy

Susanne Gervay reading from her story 'Days of Thailand' at the launch of Fear Factor Terror Incognito

A lot of copies of Fear Factor Terror Incognito were sold and we signed a great many of them, as well as having our photos taken. Many thanks to all who bought copies and I hope you find it as thought-provoking and as good a read as we do.

Over the five days of the conference we were looked after very well by the organisers and volunteers.


Susanne with Mridusmita Baruah and me.

The organisers provided enormous amounts of Indian and European dishes, as well as tea, coffee and snacks ensuring that we were all well fed. The International Goa Centre accommodation is bright, spacious and comfortable; internet connection is available, though it has to be shared, and the surrounding gardens are well-kept and beautiful. The local sights are well worth exploring. We were treated to a boat ride and cultural programme on the ‘Santa Monica’ which departed from below the Mandovi Bridge in Panjim. We also did our own exploring around Goa and its lovely beaches.

Dressed for the evening in Goa

Beach on Arabian Sea at Goa


The conference concluded with a valedictory address by Alan Mayne and speakers Stephen Muecke, Richard Nile, Satendra Nandan and R Narayan. My thanks to the AIC for a travel grant and CAL for cultural development grant to enable me to attend.

I have become a life member of IASA and am appreciative of the work that they do. The conference was an unforgettable experience. I have taken a lot from it back with me to Australia. Including the anthology which I am enjoying reading and the lovely IASA commerative clock and Certificate.

And so on to Delhi, where our book Fear Factor Terror Incognito is already in most good Indian bookshops, including those in shiny malls and local haunts such as the Khan Markets.

Delhi book shop and Jyoti with a copy of Fear Factor Terror Incognito

Writing Tip for Today
Write about a place that has inspired your wildest dreams. Recently, for me, it has been a visit to Goa and the Arabian Sea. Just the words ‘Arabian Sea’ conjure up Tales of Arabian Nights and memories of reading this book with an introduction by Sir Richard Burton which brought these tales to me many years ago. What do the words ‘Arabian Sea’ conjure up for you? Is there a place equally as magical for you? Transport yourself there on a magic carpet and write a fabulous story.

February 3, 2010

Indian Association for the Study of Australia (IASA) Goa 2010 Conference

Beach at Goa on the Arabian Sea

Beach at Goa on the Arabian Sea January 2010

International Centre Goa, venue for the IASA Goa 2010 Conference and our accommodation during the conference.

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 warm and delightful Aruna from University of Adelaide in Goa.

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.

Makarand Paranjape, who chaired and presented at the conference. He is author of "Sacred Australia" which is in the National Library of Australia. Publisher : Clouds of Magellan

Reema Sarwal co-editor of Reading Down Under: Australian Literary Studies Reader. Edited by Amit Sarwal and Reema Sarwal http://www.s3publications.com

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
knowledge
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.

With Professor Darvesh Gopal, Secretary-General of IASA and Susanne Gervay, Australian author

Professor Santosh K Sareen, President of IASA

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’.


Dr Zuchamo Yanthan, Mridusmita Baruah, me, Susanne and Renembo Odyno

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.


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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.

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