April 03, 2020:…In what will be the first of many, the Krea family had a virtual evening of engagement and thoughts titled – Weavenings.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring
Dr Akhila Ramnarayan, Divisional Chair of Literature and Arts at Krea, channelled her inner Frodo and ushered in buoyancy into the first session of Weavenings at Krea University. Times are unpredictable, but dialogue and sharing brings hope and optimism no matter what lies ahead. The evening saw immersive discussion, suggestions, learnings and even a mention of Sherlock Holmes! Even as the Krea community misses intense ideation, tea break conversations and healthy battles of wits afforded by face-to-face interaction in the physical realm, ‘Weavenings’ aims to bring us back together, albeit virtually. This effort was orchestrated by the Communications team at Krea, who will present fortnightly editions of Weavenings, knitting together various strands of the Krea fabric.
Dr. Sunder Ramaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, Krea University, introduced the session, remarking that when stepping into unpredictable times, a sense of community is paramount.
Punctuated with camaraderie, the ensuing discussion between Dr. Ramnarayan and Dr. John Mathew, Associate Professor of History of Science, Humanities & Social Sciences and Sciences, Krea University, explored how conversation can create community. Dr. Mathew took the audience, who signed in from various parts of the country, through episodes of historical crisis, connecting them to the pandemic wave of today.
“How do we react in times of uncertainty?” With this question, Dr. Mathew introduced the anthology Empires of Panic: Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties (edited by Robert Peckham, 2015) and discussed the origin of the Epidemic Act. Using historical instances such as the Spanish Flu and the Mumbai plague, Dr. Mathew offered clarity of perspective on the present pandemic and public reactions to it. Albert Camus’s modern-day classic The Plague (1947) has never seemed more relevant, he said.
“We have to invoke an expression of gratitude here. Our minds have been opened up to conversations we wouldn’t even have dreamt of having three months prior,” Dr. Mathew said.
Quoting the Tolkien passage above, Dr. Ramnarayan added,” Many things may divide us. But we should welcome differences, as they reflect how diverse we are. We need to find stories that bring us together at this time as we embrace our diversity. “Dr. Ramnarayan finished with a rendition of “I Sing of Change,” a poem of hope and resilience by Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare.
Prof. Anil Srinivasan, renowned classical pianist and Associate Professor of Practice at Krea University brought the virtual curtains down with rhythm and USA for Africa’s ‘We Are the World’ on his piano. The audience hummed and sang along knowing that even a dark tomorrow calls for hope, strength and esprit de corps.