February 01, 2009

The Jaipur Literary Festival - 2009

It was nothing less than a dream come true for me and Neha, who have been planning this trip since the last 5 years. Finally, we made it to the Jaipur Literary Festival ‘2009.

For 3 days, we roamed in the company of literary giants; we inhaled the air of creative freedom and were intoxicated by the aura of the majestic venue. It seemed like a world far away from the mundane life we subject ourselves to. It invoked the free-spirit that seeks some space every now and then.

The list of speakers was breathtaking - Vikram seth, William Dalrympme Simon Schama, Pico Iyer, Hari Kunzru, Nandita Das, Shashi Tharoor, Prasoon Joshi, Barkha Dutt and many others. On the very first day, we witnessed the book release of Bachchanalia.

Mr. Bachchan walked in and you could see why they call him the most charismatic man of Bollywood. Be it a 10 year old school-going kid or an 85 year old uncle, there was not a single soul out there who was not awed by his presence.

From reel to real

Book release of Bachchanalia

And for two crazy girls who were trying to soak in as much as possible, this was just the tip of the ice berg. The talks that followed did every bit to spark our creative imagination. From sessions on transgressive literature to scripting for bollywood, from talking about the history of America and its new President to the state of Kashmir and its reflection in Indian literature – the sessions raised many questions, stirred up many voices and invited new perspectives.

Shashi Tharoor and his huge fan following

Tharoor and Simon Schama on the history and future of America

Prasoon Joshi

Munni Kabir and Nandita Das talking about her film Firaaq

Michael Wood of Discovery's 'The Story of India'

Barkha Dutt and Ashis Nandy

Arthur Flowers 'performing' his stories

While the days stood immersed in the aura of intellectual freedom, the nights ended in a trance of music and the arts.

Music of the Bauls

Poetry readings and dance performances gave warmth in the chilly nights. Every night we left mesmerized, only to return the next day to give in to it once again.

At the end of the 3 days, we couldn’t believe the festival had ended. Hell, hadn’t it just begun?! We stood there, seeing the halls getting emptied, the beautiful arrangements being removed one by one. With great difficulty, the feeling began to sink in. Yes, it was all over.

But then, it’s always good to leave when you’re hungry for more. It only makes sure that you come back to it the next time.