Monday, February 2, 2009

The Galle Literary Festival, 2009 -- Part II

There wasn’t much I was interested in checking out on Saturday. I went down to the fest at about 11:30 to catch Colin Thurbron talking about his 7,000 mile journey from China to Turkey. Colin is an quietly entertaining speaker, very… British in his delivery, and a hell of a nice guy. After his talk I hung out with some of my friends, we wandered around the “Fort” area of Galle which is where almost all the festival venues were – it’s an old Dutch fort from the Dutch colonial times, with ramparts all the way around, fending off attacks by sea I suppose. Now the fort is mostly a tourist area with shops and restaurants. We wandered around, running into people we knew… Sumathi and Sophie, friends from Colombo, and Jess whom we had picked up along the way; she’s on a break from university in Australia and traveling around India and Sri Lanka for a month with her mother. We also ran into Ellen, and Melony and Tenzing, and about half a dozen other Colombo homies.

We made it back in time to see Edna O’Brien who was billed as “Ireland’s most famous living writer” or something like that. I wanted to read at least one book by one of the Lit Fest authors, and the one I got my hands on was one of Edna’s. It was good, no denying her ability as a writer, but her talk was a little confusing. She spoke for 45 minutes and it was like listening to Garrison Keillor on mushrooms. She rambled and ambled on and on, and I had no idea what the f she was saying. I talked to at least three other people afterwards who said the same thing. She had notes which she referred to, made quotes, brought up Dickinson and James Joyce, and closed with a poem about Obama, but seriously, I have no clue what she was going on about.

I went back to the hotel after that, back into the pool which I had to myself (LOVE the tiny hotels with just a few guests at a time!), and then my four-poster bed for a nap. The closing night party was Saturday night so I had to rest up. At about 10pm, my brother and Riyaz came to pick me up for the party which was at the Lighthouse Hotel, probably the most prominent hotel in the area and one of the major sponsors of the festival. The party was on a terrace which was pretty much the roof of the building and it was pretty rocking. Ran into more friends there whom I hadn’t seen at the festival, had several margaritas, danced until my shirt was soaked through, and finally shut the place down with Riyaz and Sunila (who was finally, FINALLY very nearly done with her massive task of getting this event over and done with) around 2.

Slept in Sunday, packed up, and caught a ride back to Colombo with my brother. There was another party for staff and volunteers back on Geoffrey’s island on Sunday night, but I was all partied out and decided to skip it and head back on Sunday afternoon.

I thought the festival was wonderful – it was a great combination of speakers and friends and beach vacation. Congratulations to everyone, especially Sunila, for putting on such a great show.

If anyone wants to see the entire festival line-up/program, you can do so at

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