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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Humber School of Writers Summer Workshop

Murphy’s law (Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) never fails me.

Saturday morning, I wore an ironed white shirt and navy blue dress trousers; black leather shoes and my brown leather Daks bag and started my journey to Humber College’s Lakeshore Boulevard campus.

It was a moment I had been waiting for since March, when Antanas Sileika, the artistic director of Humber School of Writers, selected me as an assistant to Isabel Huggan for Humber’s Summer Writing Workshop.

I’ve stopped the tedious business ironing my clothes and trying to turn out smartly everywhere I go. I prefer the ‘casual’ look because I’m lazy.

However, last Friday I spent a few hours ironing my shirts for this week’s workshop.

I reached Humber’s campus about 30 minutes before the event’s scheduled time. It was my first visit and I had factored about half-an-hour lead-time to find my way around.

But what do you think happens just as I get down from the TTC bus? It begins to rain. Correction. It begins to pour. For the next hour it doesn’t stop. In the last year that I’ve been in Toronto, it’s rained this heavily perhaps once, or maybe twice.

I don’t know where to go. There’s none to ask for directions.

I have no choice but to walk through the downpour and reach the venue. I must’ve looked like an apparition (the campus, I’m told, has a few ghosts). I’m drenched to the bones, my shirt is clinging to my torso and the trousers are dripping water all along the corridor leading to the auditorium.

A participant who holds the door open for me wryly remarks, “You’re more desperate than me to reach this place.” One of the members of the staff suggests I walk to the gym and take a towel to dry myself.

I dry my hair. I don’t have a comb. My hair is all over my face. I go to the washroom and glance at myself in the mirror. A strange man with a lot of hair on his forehead and everywhere else looks back at me.

This is my Mumbai incarnation. I never carried an umbrella in Mumbai. I always do in Toronto. I didn’t yesterday.

That’s Murphy’s Law for you.

I walk back and have a lukewarm cup of coffee. It’s not enough, so I have another. That’s too much. I throw it away.

I’m introduced to Antanas Sileika. He’s much taller than I had thought he’d be. He’s suave and courteous. He says he’s happy I could make it. “I’ve been looking forward to attending this workshop,” I say. I hope he takes my appearance as proof of my enthusiasm.

The auditorium fills up fast. There are more than a hundred aspiring writers. Everyone has to introduce herself.

On my turn, I say, “I complete my first year in Canada today.” There’s spontaneous applause.

There couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate the first anniversary of my arrival in Canada.

A special thanks to Joyce Wayne.

Image: Antanas Sileika: http://www.wcdr.org/wcdr/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/antanas-sileika.jpg

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