Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back from Jaipur Festival

When I woke up at five yesterday morning, with dense fog gathered outside my window, for a moment, I almost gave up my plans to catch the early morning Shatabdi to Jaipur. After all, while people spend a third half of their life sleeping, my own is nearer to half. It took all my will-power, and a persistent alarm from the mobile I sleepily groped for in vain, to get up and slip my feet in the slippers.

I am glad I did.

The Jaipur literature trip is the most fascinating trip I have taken in recent times. Like sholay, all the elements clicked in place. Well, almost. A surreal one-hour wait at the Gurgaon station which reminded me of my engineering days, a comfortable train-ride alongside Faiz, a cheap and decent hotel, Sudha, Andy, me and Faiz – in that order – managing to fit our bottom curves into the back of an auto to the Diggi palace, and the festival. So what if the first day discussions fell short of our expectations a tad bit. The second day more than made for it – and the real winner was really what Al Pacino would call the vaataavaran and Murali Manohar Joshi the ambience. People milling with books in hands, some of them having even read portions of it, authors and wannabes mixing without pretensions, eavesdropping on conversations like (“I am writing my own ‘On the Road’”), art students, girls as pretty as the Jaipur spring after the Delhi winter, people from every possible country, the gliteratti (that is, the bullshitters), the literati – some of them credible, seeing the faces of some of the bloggers I have cursorily followed, good bouli-narrative fusion filled evening, and booze.

I attened about half a dozen discussions ranging from most enjoyable (thank you Vikram Chandra, Maya, William Dalrymple, Roddy Doyle, Ayaan Hirsi) to a ridiculously pathetic quartet.

With this I pass the baton of descriptions to Faiz as he promised he would blog, though in a confession (where I exempted him from kneeling in front of me as I find men kneeling in front of other men a little bothersome) he told me that he finds descriptions of ambience tiring in books. Faiz, write and I will paste the content here with proper references.

I would rather post random thoughts for now.

Why are school girls so damn annoying, now that I am out of that age where they made me tongue-tied? I would any day prefer the “Man, this is so bullshit!” shuffling discomfort of adolescent boys to the shrill vacuity of girls. Roaming around in hordes, shrieking at celebrities (one of them who spotted Shabana Azmi, sister of Shabana Admi, came shrieking to her friends so horribly that I thought she was parodying her own kind and so grinningly turned, to find a shocking earnestness in her face) and oh! that twangy accent. As a bunch of them crowded around Om Puri, I almost prayed for him to turn into Shrek and yell at them Woaahhhh!

Chetan Bhagat sucks on stage. I am in no position to comment on what he sucks on backstage. Read this hilarious article(second of the two) that sums up totally Faiz's and my experience of his session.

All said and done, anyone who has managed to get a book published needs to be applauded. It is a tremendous soul-wrenching effort. More than the discussions, I scanned the faces in the audience and believed saw the determination in many to write a book of their own. After all, it is the latest fad. Many a time, we delude ourselves that we can better the person under the lens without actually lifting a finger. The thought of the action becomes the action itself and we assume that there is all to it – the thought. The execution a mere minor formality. At least, I have. That is why, so late in life, a respect for achievement has grown grudgingly in me. No more was the difference more apparent than the stage. Many of the authors did not meet the standards I had imagined for the festival, but still they were there, a couple of feet over the audience and a microphone thrust in their hand, because they had earned that privilege. I was left thinking that writing a novel (I can’t comment on other forms) is a journey which can only get its meaning when it reaches its destination. If it doesn’t, the years, the effort, are reduced to a nothing, a meaninglessness. Perhaps there is a purification that happens, an ennobling of the self - but right now, I do not buy that.


Pankaj said...

this makes me even more jealous. i ALMOST decided to go, but then laziness got the better of me.

Alam said...

Kutton .. batay nahi tum logon ney... hum bhi ho aatey

Bland Spice said...


Both Andy and I assumed that the other had already spoken to you! We realised this on the train.

ramya sriram said...

Ah! here it is.