Over the past seven days I’ve had the opportunity to visit two of India’s original four metro cities — Chennai (Madras) and Mumbai (Bombay). Nothing unusual in itself, but it so happens that I’d never set foot in either city, even though I’ve lived in the others (Delhi and Kolkata [Calcutta]).
Mumbai, of course, was to participate in the Kalaghoda Arts Festival, an annual event marked by shows, exhibitions, screenings, concerts, workshops and more. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion titled “The New Boom: Fiction for Young Adults”. Moderated by Anita Roy, the other panellists were Paro Anand, Sayoni Basu and Anshumani Ruddra.
We mainly talked about the new interest being generated in the “new” genre called young adult and the scene in an Indian context. It takes on a special relevance in today’s times when youngsters are exposed to a huge amount of information, but have relatively fewer resources to process it. The question of “appropriateness” and tackling of difficult issues also came up, as did the subject of fantasy and escapism. It was a small but involved crowd, and the session sadly short as the moderator had a flight to catch!
My adventures in Bombay had started the previous night, when I found myself stranded at the airport. A friend of a friend, however, kindly rescued me, and I found myself revived enough to try out the one activity that Bombay would have been incomplete without: travelling on the local trains.
With my ego bruised after my father had unceremoniously declared that the trains were beyond me, I eventually managed to travel around the city without having to resort to a taxi. The trains were quite an experience, though I avoided rush hour. The lifeline of the city, the Mumbai Suburban Rail is also among the most unsafe railway systems in the world, accounting for about about 10 deaths a day!
Thankfully, one did not become a fatality statistic, which enabled one to travel to Pondicherry the following weekend for the Auroville Marathon. It was my first running event (5k joining run) and ended with a quick visit to Chennai on the way back.
Stay tuned for the Pondi post. Meanwhile, I have some photos, but because PicasaWeb hates me, I can’t seem to upload the others. Will update soon, hopefully.