It was wonderful to meet all the writers from India, to interact with them, to learn about them as persons and a little bit about their creative way of working, the differences among them, their individuality and their conflicts, their fears, their pet phrases. Yet, in the end, the feeling was like after a too big lunch with too many dishes.
Now I need to be quiet and calm for some time to digest all that I heard and saw. I spoke to almost all of them individually (except for Shashi Tharoor and Vikas Swarup). I had long chat with Bhagwan Dass Morwal right on the first day. With Uday Prakash, there was lot of interaction and somehow, I found myself contradicting him often, perhaps to provoke him! Gayathri Murthy was familiar right from the first moment, while Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal, initially thought that I won't like him but later, I changed my mind. Some morning conversations with Tarun Tejpal, Lavanya Shankaran, Anita Nair and Altaf Tyrewalla. I specially liked Altaf. It was also nice to sit with Sudhir Kakkar during a lunch.
One of the most interesting discussions we had was during a lunch break with an Iraqi journalist living in Italy, a Singaporean journalist of Indian origin married in Italy (a coincidence that she knew my sister in Delhi), Nirpal Singh, writer of Indian origin living in UK. The discussion about our mixed identities, our roots, our families, our feelings and the absurdities of our worlds, was both moving and challenging.
Apart from Indian writers, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the well known writers from all over the world. I have loved reading books of Luis Sepulveda and Tahar Ben Jaloun and meeting them, listening to them was wonderful. Some others like Rosetta Loy, Peter Schneider, Bjorn Larsson, Alain Elkann, Gianni Riotta, Lorenzo Mondo, Francesca Sanvitale, I knew less well but after knowing them, I am going to read them too.
Only Federico Rampini, I missed. I was looking forward to listen to him and to get him sign a copy of his book for me but when he spoke, I was busy giving an interview. Afterwards, when I went out to look for him, he was busy in an interview.
Listening to Prof. Sanpietro and his wonderful wife, Myra as well as Prof. Alessandro Monti was equally rewarding. Interviews, speeches, long lunches, longer dinners, an evening at Rigoletto and meeting so many persons, you can understand my sense of indigestion.
I have recorded many of my discussions with the Indian writers, so perhjaps one day I will be finish transcribing all of them for you and also put them up for podcasting. In the mean time, you can take a look at some of the pictures I took during these days.