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Seclusion & stimulation
Award-winning author and constant traveller Amitav Ghosh has lived variously in Calcutta, Dhaka, Colombo, London, Massachusetts, and several other places. In 2004, he docked in Aldona, a village in northern Goa, where he spends part of the year. Goa's mix of ruralism and urban churn allows Ghosh privacy and company, whenever he needs one or the other.
What are your earliest recollections of Goa, perhaps as a child on holiday?
I first visited Goa in 1976, just after my BA final examination in college. It was a wonderful trip and I still have very vivid memories of it. Goa has changed a lot in the meantime, but there are some things that are similar.
How did you come to settle in Aldona?
It was chance really. A suitable house happened to be up for sale, and I was lucky to be able to get it. But now that I am there it seems serendipitous - it is a wonderful village. My wife and I find that it is the perfect place for us to work, because it is quiet and a little bit out of the way.
Does Goa provide you the stimulus you seek as a writer, and an environment of scholarship and academia you probably desire as a researcher?
What Goa gives me is the seclusion to think and write. At the same time, there are many very talented and interesting people in Goa, so stimulation is always to be found when one needs it.
People have been calling it the new Left Bank. Does this comparison hold water?
The Left Bank is an urban environment and what is attractive about Goa, to me, is that it is rural. So no, I don't think the comparison holds.
Bucolic, beach-strewn Goa holds up a utopian ideal for many settlers. Is it, in reality, the Arcadia people imagine it to be?
Goa has many problems, there is no doubt about that. But I think Goa approaches these problems quite creatively - there is a higher level of awareness there than in many other states. I find this really admirable.
What's a day in Goa like for you?
I usually work through the day, and then, towards sunset, my wife and I often drive to a beach to relax for an hour or two.
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