The Jana Gana Mana sung, Mahasweta Devi quoted, the crowds welcomed and appropriate people thanked, the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 has officially begun. Though it is not the Maha Kumbh, it definitely is the literary equivalent of the Kumbh Mela. A few questions to guide you through the extra-long weekend.
Where is Mohammed Hanif?
After all that outrage about Pakistani writers threatened and then welcomed, one of the biggest draws of the festival has gone missing. No explanations offered. Odd. Very odd.
What’s the press-to-public ratio?
The sea of humanity which engulfed Pico Iyer at the sixth edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, comprises mostly of green ‘press’ card holders. So who else, other than the media, is attending the festival?
What’s in store for the person who tweets the most from Jaipur?
Because just about everyone here is busy tweeting. Either from a publication’s official Twitter handle or their own, everyone is tweeting. While they are eating, while they are getting books signed. While waiting to use the washrooms, it’s all about Twitter. So what’s the prize that all the Twitteratis seem to be after?
Where do I find a charging point?
It’s obvious from the long lines, not outside the loos, but beside charging points, that the most in demand gadget seems to be a Blackberry charger. Be it a Macbook or an iPhone, these things suck energy at unimaginable rates and those who are at the Diggi Palace all day long need to find a charging point. Point to be noted: Many a war has been fought over a charging point.
How exactly does one get the best seats?
This question needs to be directed towards certain groups of people who somehow always manage to find themselves the best seats in town. I have even mulled landing up at the preceding session just to be able to attend a session of my choice, peacefully seated. Yet to happen. (Not counting the one time I was offered a seat by a gentleman in pink.)
Why is everyone dressed either for extreme winter or extreme summer?
It’s always sunny in Jaipur. It’s also windy right now. But that still doesn’t explain the extra large boots made to order or the lack of a bottom. It’s either way too many clothes defined by the sweltering foreheads, or lack of warm clothing, evident by the shivering.
Where are the controversies?
Everyone from Pico Iyer to Akash Kapur seems to be gushing over each other and creating mutual admiration societies. So, where did the spats and fights go? The kind that the literary world is infamous for.