Adib Khan on the Ubud Literary Festival

Adib Khan, author of Spiral Road, published in 2007 by HarperCollins, writes of his experiences at the Ubud Literary Festival in Bali for "The Daily Star".

Swimming, sampling Balinese cuisine, sight-seeing and shopping, the first few days were truly blissful. But it was all too good to be true. The migrant syndrome caught up with me. Ian Britten, who was born in India, chaired my next session on the meaning of home. I always struggle with the topic. Embedded deep in the recesses of memory, there are houses and segments of my life in Purana Paltan, Khawja Divan, Rankin Street, Tejgaon, Minto Road, Maghbazaar, Shantinagar, Hathkhola, Wari and Dhanmondi. We were nomads, moving every few years from one rented accommodation to another until my parents were able to afford their own house. And now, after all these years, I am still not settled in one place. My wife and I live in Ballarat for the first few days of the week and then we spend some quality time living in Melbourne, a city we both love for its ambience and cultural diversity. Home has a multiplicity of meaning. 'I am a part of all that I have met,' says Tennyson's Ulysses. It sums me up. On the same panel was Kiran Desai. It was interesting to hear about her twin existence in New York and New Delhi. Will she ever settle in one place? Some day, maybe ... Place polygamy ensures that migrants are lost souls, not only drifting between the past and present, but often between cities. We are restless creatures, never quite content with where we are.

I think we managed to confuse some in the audience that day.

Which is just as it should be - better an audience leaves a literary festival session confused but interested, rather than entertained but uninvolved.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 30, 2008 12:02 PM.

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