meandering for chitra

chitra b. divakaruni
Originally uploaded by ulanmaya_trois.

attended this weekend's kriti south asian literary festival.i'm so happy this event happened here, ahaha, and that part of it was a weekend and i could attend!!!

i noticed that almost all panelists, speakers, theater people, filmmakers, writers, organizers, musicians are women or headed by women. their keynote speaker is chitra b. divakaruni, author of "the conch bearer" and "vine of desire." she clarified a question posed by a female writer, who posed it with such meandering meanings complete with synonyms and examples and sweeping gestures, i thought she must be, unmistakably, a theater major.

"what is it that you guys do to make yourself start writing, that is, what is it that you do to put yourself into that writing mode, or, what do you surround yourself with, where do you guys go, what activities do you do to make yourself write, what rituals or practices or..." at that point, i wanted to conclude for her, "what spells and incantations and how do you add lizard's tail just so, so your brew always comes out perfect?"

the other panelists were nice to her. "i put on music, that's pretty much my ritual to write," said one. "i take a walk to take myself away from everything and then lock myself in my room," said another. chitra grabbed the mike and asked the person who posed the question, "so basically you want us to know what rules we follow to be able to start writing?"

the girl stopped a moment and looked down on her desk. you sympathize with her because you don't know if she's being real or not. i sure didn't.

she looked up, "basically, yes," she said. or maybe film.

i forgot chitra's answer then, ahaha. i was so insensitive. i do remember her being straight to the point and mindful that the south asian community needs more voices in the mainstream. this is the moment in the festival that i learned in this panel, that they focused on the how one writes, nevermind the why.

at a similar event in washington DC last year, i was dismayed that questions from the audience raised to the panelists - also all writers - were about why does one write. it took effort for me to wrap my head around that, because i remember momentarily asking "why not?" i shoved my query to the back of my mind to give space to speculation. this is what i was going to write about for an article about the festival, i thought, because this is the dominant question. in the process, i set aside my own queries, the mark of a weak consideration for art and because i wanted to focus on writing the festival as it was.

maybe because i was so searching for it, that i was so a part of writing and music and food and architecture and painting and film, that i grew up in an environment that fosters art, that it never occured to me that artists might appear a different creature to those who never wrote a creative word or swung an arm in an arc in their life unless it's for school or an organization's presentation.

to the benefit of the questioning individual, the washington DC panelists all gave good answers. i think they suspected the audience to ask them that question, anyways.

the friday before the kriti festival, a friend was just talking about "the conch bearer." i've been looking at "the conch bearer" in bookstores for a while now, but it never occured to me to just even browse the book, ahahaha. what's more's that i didn't get a chance to buy "vine of desire" until divakaruni's panel ended, and i ran, i so ran, to thorne auditorium where the books were sold, but took my time dallying there before choosing "vine of desire" anyways - it was one of the first i picked up - but did i look around the school to see if she's just standing around waiting for someone to pick her up to drive her the airport? noooo..... arrrgh!

i so need to look life in the face sometimes. grrrr.

nakakatuwa naman, pinag-uusapan lang natin, tapos nakinig ka sa talk/ lecture niya. sana nandiyan ako para magpa-autograph sa kanya. maganda ang book niya (the conch bearer); bawat chapter, parang short story. matipid ang pagsusulat at hindi "binatak" ang kuwento para lang humaba. ang problema ko lang, masyadong na-exoticize ang Indian culture sa nobela niya. Pero nagustuhan ko naman ang mga description ni Divakaruni sa mga pagkain (tea, mangoes, etc.) Napansin ko rin na masyadong aral sa children's literature poetics ang novel niya. Papasa sa lahat ng mga regulation sa writing for children. At dahil sa pagsunod doon, wala siyang na-offer na bago. Ang bago lang: napasukan niya ng Indian images at culture. Sana mabasa mo na rin ang book para mapag-usapan pa natin. ;)
wushu... you mean... "papasa sa lahat ng mga regulation KO sa writing for children." ahahahahaha... oh. just kidding. nevermind.
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