Indian-Canadian Cultural Exchange: The Indian Summer Festival 2011

Vancouver’s inaugural Indian Summer Festival, which took place from 7 until 17 July 2011, had an ambitious goal: to showcase the best of Indian and Canadian culture in Vancouver and thereby bringing them both a little closer together. For their festival of arts and ideas organisers Laura Byspalko and Sirish Rao lined up an exciting spectrum of performances from live music and cooking demonstrations, yoga and interactive dance sessions to literature talks and film screenings.

Due to ‘scheduling conflicts’ with another festival (see following blog post) I caught the first couple of days only. They were packed with outstanding events though! My favourite was the very entertaining conversation between Indian actress Tabu and author (as well as new acting talent!) Yann Martel. His bestselling novel ‘Life of Pi’ had recently been turned into a movie starring not only Tabu but, in fact, Martel himself in a cameo role, who got a thumbs up from director Ang Lee for playing himself so well. I also volunteered at one of the yoga days, which were a balanced blend of theory and practice and were enthusiastically received by the attendees.

With 2011 being the official year of India in Canada as well as Vancouver’s 125th birthday it was the perfect time for this new Indian-Canadian cultural venture to be born. What made the festival an instant success in my eyes was the combination of excellent organisation and the passion and attention to detail of the enthusiastic festival curators. As a volunteer it was a pleasure to get involved in an event that is surely going to make waves in the future. I am already looking forward to being back in Vancouver for one of the upcoming editions of Indian Summer. Well done guys!


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