Here are five things not related to books that one can enjoy at Jaipur Literature Festival.
1. Remember the floating umbrellas forming a canopy over a lane in Portugal that broke the internet a couple of years back? We have the Indian version of it at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year where the colourful Rajasthani puppet dolls replace the umbrellas. If you are a shutterbug, you’ll find it hard to stop clicking the pastel-coloured dolls hanging from bright cotton thread that run from end to end of the Diggi Palace.
It is very Indian for Friends-addicted, Starbucks-regular and now, Netflixing Indian themselves, let alone the foreign delegates.
2. No, it isn’t a George Orwell pop-up book. It is how artist Orijit Sen brought our favourite characters from Animal Farm or A Clockwork Orange out of the pages of the books by giving them a life-size structure of bamboo, wire, paper, fabric and recycled materials. Goes without saying that he didn’t expect groups of college students to hover around it with selfie-sticks but it did made for nice Instagram posts for most bibliophiles.
3. Dandiya Dance: The opening day was grand even for someone who has not read a single line by Margaret Atwood, the keynote speaker of the festival, simply because of these men in the most vibrant garba dresses dancing away to the beats of the dhol and earthy tunes.
4. The women of the Diggi family: If you harbored dreams of being served food by someone with blue blood, this is the closest you can get at a literature festival. The ladies of the Diggi royal family who are married off in different states, come together during the festival to put up a snacks joint and to sell homemade packaged products like Shakkar Parey, Namkeen Parey (sweet and salty munchies) and pickles.
Seen here sitting from left are Sandhya Kumari, the elder sister of Ram Pratap Diggi and Yogeshwari Kumari, his neice. Sandhya also conducts cooking workshops rights after the festival where she teaches how to prepare Rajasthani dishes like everyone’s favourite, Laal Maas (meat prepared with a particular chilli that gives the dish a fiery taste).
5. Diggipuri ki Chai: You are hardly considered an intellectual if you do not overdose on tea and Diggipuri understands that well. Fitting aptly in the front lawn thronging with intellectuals, these two colourful men from nearby Pushkar, Gulaab (the one NOT in the pink turban) and Raju, will serve you the best masala tea loaded with ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and some other ingredients which they hold too dear to share with the world, in beautiful earthen cups. The earthen cups are important because you will sip in a part of the ‘earth’ every time you sip the tea. So much for indigenous flavour!