Last weekend I was in a very different world. A world where a mildly shy and conservative girl like me spoke to almost 100 new people in two days, introduced myself as a writer and baker, spent the first night away from my 14 month old son , drank close to 4 pints of beer each day and met the original Made in India : Milind Soman. This might be a regular feature for everyone else at The Goa Project, but not for me – your run of the mill Chartered Accountant with a full time job and a small baby.
Arjun, my little monster weaned himself when he turned 12 months old. He wanted no more of momma’s milk. And it happened overnight. I was shocked and felt rejected. 365 days and nights spent feeding him had come to an end and he had fully transitioned to solid food. I needed a closure ceremony. A glass of wine was good, but I finally could go away for more than 4-5 hours. The Goa Project was perfect for this. It’s called an Unconference. A place where people from different walks of life come together to brainstorm ideas and get creative. People pitch in topics they want to talk about and those which get upvoted are finally presented in Goa. Over two days, I attended at story telling session by Deeptha , a spoken word poetry session by Rochelle, one on theatre by Danish Hussain, a workshop on Chindogu and how to publish a book by Tathagat, the 100 Saree pact story by my friend Monika, a dialogue about women entrepreneurs and related issues by Kavita a very interactive session by Avani on love (read sex) and glimpsed through several other sessions. The striking difference between this (un)conference and others was that you could move between talks, go and sit wherever you like and no one thought it was rude. The weather was jovial, free booze was flowing throughout and interesting conversations were happening at every corner. What was to not like about it?
I will be honest to you. Some of the discussions made me a little uncomfortable. I had sure read 50 Shades of Grey in the anonymity of my kindle, but I couldn’t sit through a talk on BDSM and all the Sub-dom terrains without cringing several times. When later someone asked a question that what if all money was to be replaced with sex, I was shocked and confused as to what would happily married people like me buy stuff with, I was promptly given an answer – ‘happily married doesn’t exist’. Well, I begged to differ, but never mind.
I had a good two days, talking to different people. Some of the most eye-opening insights were found in a place least expected. On the second day, I was talking to a DJ of a popular club and contrary to what I used to think, his is the most solitary job. A room full of people and yet no one you are with. And the terrible disadvantages of passive smoking and the guilt of encouraging people to get drunk so that the club makes profit. But he loved his job and thats what makes the world go round.
So many people are doing such out-of-the-box stuff – it’s hard to sit in an AC office and think of those things. Be it literature, theatre, poetry, conservation, renewable energy, love, sex, photography, documentaries – there is so much that can be explored and there are people out there doing that and getting funded for their innovations. It feels like the best time to be alive, alive in India. Albeit certain people might not think so, I firmly believe that.
The evenings there were especially beautiful with the cool breeze off Dona Paula and live music. I had a relaxing weekend and when I met my son once home, his raw emotions and happiness at seeing his mommy made him dance for a couple of minutes. And then he hugged me and planted his drool soaked kisses all over my cheek. That was the best best part. The husband took a video of it and I watch it a dozen times each day.
I like this place I am at. But if someone asks me, do you swipe right or left? I have no idea. I have been ‘ happily married’ for almost 5 years now and I guess all those Tinder phrases are lost on me. Well, I am getting too old for that shit anyway. The big 30 is approaching and it’s time to settle down.
See you next year at TGP 2017.