Bibliophiles from across the world are having the time of their life at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). The congregation of literary moguls at Jaipur’s Diggi Palace Hotel is making international headlines for both the right and wrong reasons. Besides the row over Salman Rushdie and Satanic Verses, which have eclipsed everything else thanks to the media, the first three days of the festival had some delighting moments for the attendees! Here are my top 10 observations at JLF that Ithink deserve a mention.
#1: First things first, Oprah Winfrey clearly downplayed the usually overwhelming Barkha Dutt in their 70 minute session. She talked about Twitter, God, Jaipur, the Indian family, and of course the Bachchans, with whom she stayed with, before coming to Jaipur.
#2: In a session called ‘Love Stories’, with Barkha Dutt, Prasoon Joshi sang ‘Babul Jiya Mora Ghabraye’ a beautiful poem that he wrote himself. Check it out on You
#3: In one of the sessions on Day 2, Chetan Bhagat said he believes whatever the situation, Rushdie has hurt Muslims with his book Satanic Verses in some way. In what seemed a quick face saver, he later said it didn’t justify blocking his entry to India.
#4: Shashi Tharoor openly advocated freedom of expression on the internet, irrespective of what his party, Congress says. Fortunately, Kapil Sibal though present at the JLT wasn’t around to hear that!.
#5: Suhel Seth, in the same session, summed up his recent Twitter controversy as ‘one should not post after three pegs’. Three pegs Suhel, really?
#6: Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar were reading to the audience from ‘The Satanic Verses’ and they were immediately stopped by the organisers fearing protests or police action. Later that day, Kunzru left Jaipur and then India to evade a possible arrest, as warned by organisers. Here’s Kunzru’s account of what happened.
#7: Talking about his book ‘Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement’, Rahul Pandita told a horrifying account of a women who was tortured inhumanly by cops.
#8: In various sessions across the first three days, our dear Gulzar Sahab continued to lighten the intellectual air with his powerful poems to each of which, the crowd sighed unanimously. In a session on Day 2, he shared the stage with Madan Gopal Singh, an Indian Sufi singer and lyricist
, who seduced the crowd with Punjabi poetry.
#9: Away from media attention, a number of ‘Young Adults’ workshops’ were held in the Samvad Hall of the hotel. Their themes were democracy, literature and religion.
#10: Various Coke Studio (India) performers on the evening of second day frenzied the delegates and visitors. The Qawwali session by Sabri brothers and Baul Music by Saurav Mandal were quite transcendental.
Even with an estimated footfall of over 30,000 in
stirred audience to explore various facets of India in Northeast, North India and of course, Rajasthan.