Saturday, February 8, 2020

At the Jaipur Lit Fest

I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival for the first time in January 2020. Not for all the five days, just for a day or so. It was exactly what I had been told it would be. Crowded, energising, exciting, festive...

I was there on a Sunday and the Diggi Palace venue was packed. The previous day I had been at JBM (Jaipur BookMark) at the same venue but hadn't attended any JLF sessions.

The discourses on politics like one where Rajdeep Sardesai and Sachin Pilot were spewing forth their contradictory opinions were the most crowded with deafening cheers for nothing in particular. The Front Lawn venue had
sessions with the most celebs on stage. Shashi Tharoor for instance.

Rajdeep Sardesai talking about democracy.

Session after session!
There was a discussion on "Negotiating the male space in contemporary fiction" which threw up some insights. Roshan Ali, Arunava Sinha, Perumal Murugan and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar were in conversation with Manasi Subramanian. One thing stuck with me. Apparently, male authors portray the male baddies very differently from the way women authors portray the male baddies. The women tend to talk about the bad guy's attitude to women while the men often ignore that aspect. Something to mull over!

Not all the sessions were equally interesting. There was this one session about Travel and it was yawn-worthy. Katie Hickman, Howard Jacobson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Peter Hessler and Suketu Mehta were supposed to be in conversation with William Dalrymple. Actually, there was no conversation –  disappointing. I don't know what I was expecting but I wasn't expecting a book reading. The session had the 6 authors reading from their books one after another. No discussion about what travel writing is all about. Sure, I enjoyed Suketu Mehta's reading but the others were...well....dull.

The storytelling session at Samvad, basically interactive theatre, brought to life stories of 55 adults from rural and urban Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and it was real, not esoteric. I loved it.

The food was great. Yummy chola tikki, gur para and chaat. Ice-cream wasn't bad either and I liked the thick chai too. There was a whole matka of chai without sugar. I love tea but I hate it sweet.

I overheard Annie Zaidi smiling about youngsters competing with each other to take selfies with authors.

I gifted a couple of copies of my books to the right people (hopefully).

I caught up with a few friends but it was so crowded that I just wanted to go back to the homestead where I was putting up.

JLF was a treat even if it was for a day. Hopefully one of these days it will happen again for me.

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