Day three was the day of my presentation. Two of my friends presented on the same day, and all of us were nervous- even if not much, just a little tense. I was scheduled to present last, and all the other papers were just making it worse- the tension, that is. Most of the papers were amazing, and the feedback was constructive, and I was looking forward to the criticism on my paper.
The day waned, and by noon, I was standing in front of everyone, presenting my paper on oikopoetics. This term is coined by Dr. Nirmal Selvamony, who I was fortunate to have as my professor back in MCC. He adapted a Tamil concept called 'tinai' into a modern system and way of life. I am not too sure of the roots of the word, but it represents not only a system, but a way of life. In the Tamil context, there are five tinaigal- mullai, kurinci, paalai, marutam and neytal. Each refers to a particular region within which people live, their means of survival (hunter, farmer, fisherman etc..), the time of day and the part of the year that is most significant for them and so on. This is a complex system that requires a detailed study of ancient Tamil texts, which he has undertaken. Parallel to this, he speaks of an oikos. 'Oikos' is a Greek word which means 'house'. The word oikopoetics does what the tinai does in Tamil literature: it connects literature to the landscape (if not to the way of life as well). So, I was looking at this aspect of ecocriticism. Anyway, I presented my paper, and I was standing there eagerly awaiting a response only to be greeted by absolute silence.
That aside, we had a great lunch and then there was a round of prize-distributions for students who had previously participated in a competition held by CUTN. They got a set of books as prizes (most of them did, at least). The people there even gave the six of us a participatory certificate and commended us on our brilliant performance (in their words, we rocked the show). One of my classmates was asked to speak a few words toward the end of the conference. He did not fail to mention the good food! Overall, it was a great experience.
But that was only the conference. After that, my classmates and I hung around with a few of the people from CUTN, some of whom I knew before hand (this included Nirmal sir). We went on a walk around Thiruvarur. It is a beautiful township, especially after the rains (as I am sure I have mentioned earlier). It was more than an hour-long walk, but it was so much fun. I had so much catching up to do (Susan, I'm sure you are following this). So, what with the Beatles, and identical feet twins, and MCC, our day went by really fast. We left CUTN by six thirty, got to the room, ate and did the calculations and money divisions (the math, basically).
We were at the bus stop about an hour earlier. Not knowing what to do, we were walking slowly, when a herd of cows randomly apparated in front of us. So, we tried to dodge them, and a bus came charging ahead of us. Tensed, and herded in, we tried to move aside, knowing that there were cows behind us. But somehow, magically, a couple more cows came down from the front, and yet we failed to notice them (probably because of the looming bus). So, I got very lightly brushed by the horns of a cow (definitely a first), and a couple of my friends freaked out, and we decided to get out of that crazy place. We went back to our hotel, sat outside, and then four of us left, leaving behind two of our classmates.
I assumed that the bus journey back was going to be a dream. I never slept on that ride. I was up till four thirty chatting with my friend! It was an amazing experience. There was a slight nauseating feeling that was countered by the very very interesting insights that I gained from him. So, it was dawn, and we had barely slept. There was a 1.00 a.m. break, which we made use of to get refreshing coffee. Finally, we landed in Chennai once again: home territory!
And thus, the three-day conference ended. It was a brilliant experience. One of a life time. Something I cannot forget. Good fun, and serious too, to a certain extent. Okay then.... I shall stop ranting any further. Goodbye, for now.