The Shillong Creative Arts, Literary And Music ( CALM) Festival held from 31st October to 3rd November was notable for its fusion of literay expressions, art and wood work displays, photograhs, indigenous pottery of the Jaintia Hills, a fast vanishing art, musical and comedy shows, talks by Indrajeet Hazra, Chetan Bhagat and the doyen of journalism M. J. Akbar. Chetan gave the youth, tips to be succesful, to which a young one counterposed; ''Why is success so important? Indrajeet Hazra, journalist and writer spoke to school children on the processes of creativity, and of course the inimitable M. J. Akbar captivated the audience with his sense of Indian history, polity, society and secularist and democratic ideals embedded firmly in the concept that is: ''India''.
In between there were book launches, meets with artists, sculptors and photographers. Parallel sessions on counselling for students, expressions of drawing and painting by children, choral recitation, were conducted. In one of the evenings the audience were treated to musical expositions by the local Aroha Choir, and comedy shows by Neville Shah and company. There was also a book fair, where books by authors participating in the meet were available for sale.
Books were launched by photo journalist Chirodeep Choudhuri, NDTV journalist Kishalay Bhattacharjee, the brilliant author originally from Sikkim Prajwal Parajuly, young local poet Jerry Lucius Pyrtuh, and veteran teacher of Shillong Cassandra Syiemlieh who has published a book showing the connect between poetry and popular Western songs. There is a compact relationship that exists between poetry and song, countenancing Gerard Manley Hopkins' contention that all art aspires towards the condition of music. The photo journalist Chirodeep Choudhuri spoke on photography and story telling with reference to his book, and Prajwal Parajuly spoke on his forthcoming collection of short stories: ''The Gurkha's Daughter'' which has got rave prereviews and is on the Amazon's best book sellers list already, in the pre booking lists. Parajuly originally from Sikkim is a brilliant speaker and he has already been hailed as a writer to watch out for in the English speaking world.
The CALM Festival is an interesting fusion of local talent and that from the' mainland' India. It has brought diverse aesthetic realities on a common platform: creative writing, painting, sculpture, pottery, photography, the oral word (recitation), music, comedy etc with focus on the youth. It was not meant to be a literary festival, but one on the creative arts in an inclusive manner. The interactions with school children was its highlight, so were counselling sessions, to give the right kind of advice to impressionable minds. It was delightful to see children sprawled on the floor, faces intent in painting and drawing.
That was the calm of this CALM Festival...young and old commingled in pursuits of the mind and the heart.