Hot- Kanpur in India in June.
A Participant’s Version
I’m on my way, I don’t know where I am going, but I’m on my way…
Sometimes you are led to places you want to go but are not sure about why . And then also you almost don’t make it. And after that, boy, are you so happy that it happened. You kind of wonder why you missed the first few days, but it could be that you were programming yourself for cold feet, and then realized that there was so much hope waiting there for you that you just had to go. If this sounds like rigmarole, let me lay it out straighter.
A friend sent a call to writers per se, for a science fiction workshop happening for three weeks(3 weeks!) at IIT, Kanpur in June(what a joke, who would go to Kanpur in this heat?) at the cost of Rs. 3000/- only but cost of travel not included (pretty reasonable, kind of balanced the heat). I just forwarded the mail to other writing groups I belonged to, saying this is not for me, but there must be others out there who love stories of science and are capable of writing such too, or aspire to write such. Now my aspirations know no bounds, and though I had washed my hands off the whole deal, something nagged. Three weeks of writing solitude. Maybe I could give sci-fi a go. Max what, a no, for which I was well prepared, given that I was pretty scientifically challenged. All I know about science is that it makes living for me very happy, what with the electricity and broadband and automobiles and elevators and everything else that makes life happening for me in this century.
I wrote what I thought would qualify as a sci -fi story. Sent it off with all that I knew of sci fi and why I wanted to attend the workshop. I think it is my adventurer self that makes me wade in unknown waters. And then the waters say, wow, we are sucking you in, my dear. That’s what happened. My story was accepted, and in the throes of excitement, I booked my tickets well in advance.
My birthday is on the cusp of Aries-Taurus with a Gemini rising, and that combination usually deters people from standing in my path (I have to attribute this to something, might as well be the stars). Yet, not people but something else intervened (the stars?). The night before the 13th of June, with the Shatabdi waiting to be boarded by me the next morning, my ankles swelled up. In brief, I had fallen down some stairs, hurt my leg, was taking some painkillers, and I think the painkillers reacted. I did not know at that time what was happening, but I just decided not to go. A couple of days and check ups later, the doctor said I could go, there was nothing wrong. I had lost time and had told Suchitra meanwhile that I would not be coming.
Suchitra is Suchitra Mathur , Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IITK and the organizational ‘genius’ and one of the facilitators of the sci fi workshop at IITK. She donned the avatar of the many handed devi here, or in modern terminology, the mantle of the ultimate multi-tasker.
She said my room was ready and waiting with the computer and net connection and they hoped to see me sometime, anytime that week! The cooler would also be installed once I arrived. That decided it. I scrambled for another train ticket, and was on my way to the first of the All Indian Three week Science Fiction Writers Workshop being held at IITK.