Oct 222002

A weekend in the life of Ramarao Kanneganti

I thought this forum will be buzzing with all the details of sahitee sadassu. Any case, here is highly personalized account of what happened there.

It was a weekend for having fun.

What could be more pleasant than meeting old friends, and making new ones? I had the pleasure of hosting Veluri, Afsar, and Prasad Ch. I met people like Satyam Mandapati for the first time. I also met with the young generation like Surya Kumari (www.kaburlu.com) who is just waiting to post on this forum :-).

It was a weekend for remembering poetry.

I saw poetry not in words, but in places where people were moved to tears by the remembrance of things past. I am glad we are were there, for such vulnerability is difficult to share. Thank you.

It was a weekend for panic last minute presentation writing.

A gentleman was spotted sitting next to Jampala was furiously scribbling the talk just few minutes before going on to the stage. One could see his face becoming strangely quiet, after he realized that he would have to rush in where angels fear to tread. I am not going to tell the results.

It was a weekend for wonderful dinner.

The magical moment for me was when I just had the first jilebi and wondering if I should have the second one, then the second one appeared next to my plate. The service was wonderful, the company pleasant, and the conversation, easy and non-noncontroversial. The last adjective may be attributed to the mellowing effects of the sumptuous meals.

It was a weekend for backbenchers.

Especially since some of the backbenchers ended up on the stage! The perennial backbencher and kibitzer Veluri was leading a session of diaspora (look ma, no capitals) literature. He and Ari held tight reins over the time. The classic has to be Ari’s intonation on a comment during QA session: “That is not a question. Next question”.

It was a weekend for controversy.

The biggest one being whether the idli from the white box or the brown box is better? The second one, on a minor scale, is why “one lakh prize” for the novel. Apparently, several writers in AP are regarding this as “bhutan lottery”. One unknown participant was heard muttering “why not make the prize 10 lakhs and have an entrance fee”.

It was a weekend for flexing our muscles.

It is not untrue that we are treated as a country bumpkins in Indian literary circles. “poor NRIs! Throw them some avadhaanams and they will salivate. Throw them some half baked poetry and they will be thankful”. The fact is that some of the people in the sadassu are as well-read, if not better, than the critics from the mother ship. This fact frequently emerged in the in-depth talks on diaspora, and a criticism largely free of tired idealogical slants.

It was a weekend for introspection.

Day by day, we all die, along with our symbols. It is a sobering thought that our symbols need to be preserved, even as caricatures. KalasapooDi talked about digitization of Telugu literature, and Jampala talked about kathaanilayam. There were a few voices talking about teaching Telugu to kids at home. Apparently, Umich has few hundreds of Telugu books and few thousands of Tamil books.

It was a weekend for technical jargon.

Unicode was the word of the day. People were heard talking to each other in Unicode over lunch. There were gentlemen coming over to tables carrying hidden Markovian chains. There was talk of Xperience of XP. And, inevitable question, “is it open source?”

It was a weekend for quizzes.

Quick! What is NTR’s first name? Or can you name the last sentence in third paragraph of chivaraku migilEdi? Questions ranged from mundane to arcane, fun to profound. And, to my amazement, four of the people finished crossword puzzle too! There were some amazing cryptic clues (Eg: renDu veesaala gaDDi).

It was a weekend for remembering old friends.

We all missed Nasy, who was a resident of Ann Arbor. Personally, I was hoping to see Srinivas Paruchuri as well.

It was a weekend for confusion.

Dashing out of the rest room, I spotted VishnubhoTla ramanna and rushed to meet him. The person politely shook my hand and informed me he was Lakshmanna. Eventually, I saw both of them together. Question is: how do they know who they are? What if they was exchanged for one another when they were mere babies?

It was a weekend for ruminations.

At the end of day, all that is remaining is some memories, and some desires. We wonder about the power of word, language, literature and people. And, we continue to muse about gradual erosion of all of those in that order.

Rama Kanneganti
The original message here.

 Posted by at 8:38 pm