I was super excited when Shampa Kamath of the New Indian Express extended an invitation for me to speak at the Odisha Literary Festival to be held on the 3rd and 4th of October in Bhubhaneshwar. The topic was "The Resurgent Lure of Mythology" and I would be sharing the stage with Ashwin Sanghi, bestselling author of Chanakya's Chant and the Krishna Key, Anand Neelakantan of Asura: Tale of the Vanquished fame and the brilliant Arshia Sattar. Needless to say, I accepted with alacrity!
It was an absolutely amazing experience for me, bordering on the surreal. The TNIE team were very friendly and it was great to meet luminaries like Prabhu Chawla, editorial director of TNIE (He was really sweet and came up to me during lunch which was immediately after our session to say that I had spoken well :) ), Union Minister Shashi Tharoor (I did not actually get to meet him per se but I did hear him speak at length), Kapish Mehra, Vikas Swarup, Jerry Pinto, Pratibha Ray, Namitha Gokhale, and Supriya Dravid amongst others.
As it turned out my secret fear that I would disgrace myself on stage was largely unfounded. And Anand made my day, month and year by observing that the biggest names in mythological writing had one thing in common, their names started with the alphabet, A - Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Anand Neelakantan and (ahem!) Anuja Chandramouli :) :) :) To my surprise, quite a few people from the audience tracked me down to compliment me and to inform me that they had not heard of me or my book, but they promised to read it asap and get back to me asap.
Rounded off a memorable trip to Bhubhaneshwar (will always love the beautiful city which has given me so many treasured memories) with a visit to the Sun temple at Konarak (it is unspeakably gorgeous) and Puri Jagannath temple with Dad and Anand Neelakantan, who is an absolute delight to hang out with given his wicked sense of humor and out of the box ideas, before rushing off to the airport.
Do check out this article covering the mythology session of the Odisha Lit Fest here.