So it’s that time of the year when the world descends on Jaipur and anxiously awaits intellectual nirvana. When the beauties from ramps meet in Jaipur to discuss what they have never experienced: Books. When toady politicians and wealthy industrialists with their crass hangers-on snoop down on The Rambagh Palace Hotel to be seen as intellectual giants.
Over the years, I have seen the Jaipur Literature Festival transform from something intimate to almost something that resembles the Kumbh Mela. Which is not a bad thing but only if some people knew that during the day, it might be a good idea to attend the Festival too; Listen to authors; indulge in debate and discourse and then head off for Anokhi or Gem Palace. Because I guess that is what they essentially come for.
Having said that, there was a time when I would meet these fashionistas from Bombay and Delhi with their stilletoes which would be sharp enough to drive a literary wedge between nations and ask them ‘which is the last book you read?’ but over time I have had to re-phrase the question and now I simply ask them ‘when is the last time you read?’ And I am not being mean when I say this.
It is true now of JLF. It has become the it place to be seen if you don’t want your husband to think all you do is slash his credit card. Or your lady friends to believe all you are good at is remembering the name of Linda Goodman.
The same holds true for men. I have seen many illustrious people, including heart surgeons and industrialists walk through the Festival as if they’ve to the Chaucer been born. Scratch the surface with a mild intellectual scalpel and you’ll see all they read was After Hours and some trite writing like this piece you are reading. But then the JLF is no longer about books. It is about conversation; it is about whether Vasu and you are dining later that evening and if Diya Kumari has invited you to the Palace and if you are going to Sanju Bali’s dinner or for that matter just enjoying a musical performance with Bina. We have managed to make a carnival even out of a literary meet which in marketing terms is not a bad thing yet again.
Being a regular at JLF and someone who reads, below is a quick survival strategy:
Homi Bhabha is a venerable professor at Harvard and not dead
Amartya Sen is not related to Suchitra Sen or for that matter Moon Moon Sen
The Lowland is not a work of pornography: It is set in Calcutta
Richard Dawkins is not related to Stephen Hawking
Crime And Punishment is not the biography of Nupur Talwar but instead a classic
Chaucer was an author and not someone who endorsed a brand of ceramics
Tina Brown is not coming to this year’s JLF because she is condoling Tarun Tejpal’s absence who is also not coming to this year’s JLF because he is incarcerated with severe lacerations and the police has recused him from this year’s JLF
The Jaipur Literature Festival also sells samosas and Rajasthani chai but that it only as an aside
Finally Wren and Martin are not to be confused with the Wright Brothers just as Groucho Marx is not related to Karl
So come along to JLF 2014 and enjoy…well…the samosas