Between February 11 and February 14 I took part in the ANUVAD Arts Festival 2017 taking place in the city of Silchar, India. Organized by the North East India Company arts collective, the second annual edition of this eclectic and forward-thinking arts festival included workshops and presentations on poetry, translation, Hindu epics, photography, performance art and issues of cultural identity and gender, and also featured poetry readings, musical and dance performances and a visual arts exhibition. The primary goal of ANUVAD through all of this is to build cultural bridges between the Barak Valley (of which Silchar is the main city) and the rest of India and the world. The festival included invited speakers and resident artists from many parts of India as well as from the United States, Australia, Great Britain and France. On the invitation of Dr. Arjun Chaudhuri, the festival’s indefatigable and multi-talented chief organizer and curator, I led two workshops at ANUVAD focusing on -what else?- comics, and poetry, and the relationship between the two. I also gave a lecture about my comics practice at Silchar’s Assam University as part of the student-organized Assam University Literary Festival 2017.
It was a wonderful experience to get to know the many artists, scholars and other guests at ANUVAD, as well as the enthusiastic and engaged student organizers and attendees. This was also my first visit to India, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this fascinating country. The fact that I was interacting with so many local inhabitants, as well as Silchar’s utter lack of a tourism industry, and thus of any predetermined aesthetic filters through which to orient a visitor’s impression of the city , gave me the opportunity to see this corner of India, as much as could be possible for me, through Indian eyes. I can’t wait to go back!