Review of the Jaipur Lit Fest

So last (or was it last, last ) week I went to the Jaipur literature Festival and yes, attended the Oprah shebang on day…erm 2.  Here’s a little snippet of her entering stage, and an intro by Barkha Dutt (yuck)

It ain’t too clear, but this is just proof and a little show n’ tell for you all…And my folks….And friends…And teachers who want to trivialize my Lit Fest visit (“Arey, Oprah was there na-thaaaat’s why you went!”).

While the above was going on, this was happening on the side:

These feisty women wanted to see Oprah goddamnit!

Nonetheless, I got to have a little chat with Shekhar Kapur (my Sister’s ultimate idol for making Mr.India) about possible escape routes from the ‘front lawn’. He got to sneak through special hidden passages, while I was made to stop and turn around at every door because I wasn’t ‘Special Tag’-ed enough. And anyway, I trotted off to catch a really remarkable book reading -without the author actually reading from the book!

Simon Sebag Montefiore.
A little Intro :


Now if you wanted to really be part of the JLT haute couture, this look would seal the deal
Inside a small part of the Diggi palace courtyard. The palace is now a small hotel
A very very good Brad Pitt look a like....Seeing Oprah from afar


And finally have some chaaah

A Delayed Reaction to The Jaipur Literature Festival 2012

The Jaipur Lit Fest was an event I decided to attend as a last minute diversion from my journey back to Delhi from Kota.

My ultimate fix for any journey. However the 'someone' who fixed this chai had ulterior motives of killing me with hypoglycemia
Thanks to the amazingly heart wrenching scene outside the dhaba, I was further more conviced that my tetra pack- milk in the killer chai was fresh as it could be

Now I don’t intend to rant on about a certain author of a banned book, nor do I yearn to rattle off sympathetic statements  for those who supported him. You may read this as a journal entry of a behenji who tried to learn and fine tune her life as much as she could in 3 days. So here goes:

Entering the 'Palace of Scholars'...and People who just wanted to know what the godda'ym noise was about

21st Jan:

‘Creativity, Censorship and Dissent’

Siddhartha Gigoo, Tahmima Anam, Prasoon Joshi, Charu Nivedita and Cheran, were a great gang of varied writers and poets who expressed their pent up views on how India is slowly emerging as a nation where the freedom of speech, even in terms of writing down what you believe, is getting choked up by politics (more essentially politicians). The one remarkable observation Prasoon made, was by using the example of China and the fact that a lot of bloggers and writers created another language that phonetically sounded like the words that they wanted to talk about,  which couldn’t be tracked by the government software systems. This highlighted the possibility of how people can create anther language to express their views , that allow them to demand a freedom they weren’t entitled to, or didn’t wish to utilize otherwise.

A stage loaded with conversation. A great start to the fest

‘Tiger Mothers’

Amy Chua in conversation with the annoying and half witted Madhu Trehan.

Why the hate? Well because I thought it was sucky for an interviewer to grill an author about their work, as if they were guilty of doing anything at all. She accused Amy Chua of being a weird mother, taking examples of her autobiography and basically making her defend everything she wrote in the book. Madhu fumbled when she introduced the book to the audiences as she even forgot (or perhaps didn’t know) the title of it!  

‘The Power of Myth’

Arshia Sattar, Jawhar Sircar, Amish Tripathi in conversation with Gurcharan Das

The myth is losing its power as we live our day to day lives. It can be regarded as a lie that tells us a truth. When we create a lie, build on it and create a pact to abide by it, that becomes a myth. An interesting story was then told about a Bengali Shiv, pot bellied and high-totally different to the mainstream representation of the God. This shows us the way that myths are like a pool of stories people contribute towards. From this pool certain stories are picked out from individuals. More essentially Indian myths show us how Indians approached ‘God’ and worship.

‘ The Famished Road’

Ben Okri in conversation with Chandrahas Chaudhury

According to Ben, “beginnings reveal the philosophy of the writer”. How you say it matters more than what you’re saying. It has to do with the tone, form, structure and beat of your words and sentences. You don’t know when the form is right, unless the tone is right. Ben showered his audiences with his wisdom, as he said that the musical quality of writing can only be achieved correctly after you’ve taken sentences and structures for a walk. He continued to show his magic as he read lines from his piece which was a combination of an essay and a poem titled, ‘A New Time For Dreams’. The mood of the fest was indeed a dreamy one, as it resonated with words like ‘seeing and being’ and ‘This is what we have allowed the world to become’.

‘Love Stories’

Pavan Varma, Namita Gokhale, Prasoon Joshi and Gulzar (the surprise element)

Make what you want/can from these recordings:

A Reading from ‘The Habit of Love’ by Namita Gokhale:

Prasoon Joshi Reads a Short Poem:

22nd Jan:

‘Holy Wars’

Ayesha Jalal in conversation with William Dalrymple

Ayesha thoughtfully stated that the ‘intellectual history’ of Jihad, is a complex and often misunderstood. She had written her book,  Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia (2008) seven years after 9-11. According to her, Jihadism had nothing to do with it. She continued to talk about the distinction between religion (that is contextualized) personal faiths and identity, stating that Jihadism was a way of fusing the three together. In her views, for a way of sanctioning the new practice the men who planted the seeds of Jihadism sanctioned it, by labeling it as ‘war in the way of God’. She said that in this way, faith became disassociated with law. Legal books were made on Jihadism, which functioned as a treatise on how people could deal with war and prisoners of war. She agreed that it was ironic that although there was no connection between faith and and Jihad, but empathized that in the day, there was no point doing Jihad without it. It was merely an ethical concept.

As she spoke, questions popped up in my mind. How do you justify war in a religious context? Ayesha miraculously answered my silent inquiry by stating that contexts in the form of treatises were made up to justify it. She also pointed out that muslims also fought Jihad with other fellow muslims in history as well, too. She herself justified the nature of Jihadism that took place in India during the onset of the Mughal rule. There was no reason to prolong the war or to be involved in it after the conquest of India, they merely had to establish their sovereignty and maintain peace henceforth.

Mr. Dalrymple and Ayesha Jalal
The 'Durbar' Hall at Diggi Palace