Gliding into Mumbai

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I’m in Mumbai. Outside the city is covered in a light haze. Inside my 23rd floor hotel room I’m watching dark falcons (perhaps they’re black winged kites) wheel over the crowded city. In the distance, giant freighters are sailing into Mumbai harbour.

The Bookwallah portable library and I arrived at roughly the same time. While I finished unpacking my suitcase, the library of Australian books in the library were being carefully unfolded for display at the Mumbai Lit Festival.

Jetlag is sneaking up on me. I left Melbourne just after midnight yesterday – nearly 22 hours ago. Airports and air travel is so boring that I slept for much of the journey but it was that sort of broken, sitting upright sort of sleep that wards off collapse but doesn’t refresh. But being back in India is both exciting and a little surreal.

The charming Mikhail Sen, production assistant for the Bookwallah Tour, met me at airport this morning and we crossed Mumbai in a taxi full of mosquitoes. A strong coffee and a catch up with the tour organisers, Catriona Mitchell and Nicolas Low and I’m getting a sense of what the next few weeks will be like. But before it’s begun, there’s been hitches. The plan was for three Australian writers and three Indian writers to tour together but Michelle de Kretzer, the fabulous Australian literary novelist, has had to pull out at the last minute. Benjamin Law, the other Australian writer, had his passport go astray, thanks to Australia Post, and missed his flight. I was a little worried that if bad things happen in threes, then i was bound to get lost in the airport at Kuala Lumpur. I did manage to lose my brand new red reading glasses but I don’t think that rates as much of a disaster compared to having to cancel or missing your plane.

In half an hour I’ll head out to the opening event of the Mumbai Lit Festival. Tomorrow I’ll be running a writing workshop on ‘Writing for Children’. The week will be jam packed with events and interactions. Fingers crossed, the hiccups at the start of the tour will mean everything from now on will be as smooth as the flight of a falcon on a warm thermal updraft, gliding over Mumbai.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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