Rajasthan through eyes of Anand
Anand Tripathi | Feb 5th, 2018
JLF 2018 – Where Words took Centre-Stage
If there is one thing that tugs at heart’s strings of every bibliophile and every reader or writer, it has to be the Jaipur Literature Festival. If ever there was a congregation of the greatest minds that can breathe life into mere words on a piece of paper, it had to be in the Pink City. An event of magnificent proportions, people from all over the country descend to Jaipur to partake in the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), a jamboree that commemorates literature from all over the world. The JLF has been evolving each year, with new dimensions and meanings attaching themselves, as participants ranging from local writers to Nobel laureates and award winning authors to debutant novelists engage in debates, discussions, and readings, as the audience watches on at Diggi Palace.
There would be no exaggeration inreferring to JLF as a catalyst that encourages cultural intermingling within and outside the country.A five day event, the JLF 2018 hosted a number of well-known names from the world of literature as well as some Bollywood celebrities. Revering the written word, visitors from all over were captivated with the list of authors that were soon to take the stage. As the exhilarated onesstreamed into the halls of the Diggi Palace, authors and other guest speakers prepared to begin a day of discussions and debates. While consternations regarding the release of a particular Bollywood flick gave rise to anxieties everywhere, the organizers of the event, along with the Rajasthan Police, were able to keep the venue free from unexpected snags, and the festival itself saw a staggering footfall that crossed last year’s attendance of 4,50,000 by at least 24%.
Engaging sessions all around
While the sessions that featureBollywood celebs were packed, it would be unfair to say that people were only interested in the fetching figures from the silver screen. Anurag Kashyap and Soha Ali Khan’s sessions were definitely crowded, as was the one where Shashi Tharoor explained the differences between Hindutva and Hinduism, but NawazuddinSiddiqui’s slot on playing Manto, the rebel-writer of atrocious truths that no one could talk about, was definitely a major crowd puller, as the Methodistactor received a standing ovation from the literary fraternity. However, sessions withPico Iyer, ZakirHussain, William Dalrymple, AmishTripathi, AanchalMalhotra, and many more were equally well-attended. Visitors also thronged the stalls and bookshops that had been set up for their benefit, of which, two stalls did manage to steal most of the attention. While the Penguin stall gave out a rustic feel and ambiance that pulled everyone in, the Amazon stall offered a KDP platform where one could upload any book they have written to turn it into an eBook. Days were followed by evenings and nights where everyone would move towards Clarks Amer, a well- recognized hotel in Jaipur. Evenings were dedicated to concerts and music programmes to enthrall all music lovers, programs that could help one unwind from the intellectual escapades of the day and get you primed for the adventures of the next day. One of the most memorable events that graced JLF 2018 was the light and sound show that was held at the Amer Fort on Sunday evening, the 28 th of January.
As an enraptured audience listens to famous authors hoping for the intellectual stardust to rub off on them as well, some speakerscome upwith truly inspirational tales that tell stories about how much one may achieve when they put their minds to it. One among such speakers was Rupi Kaur, who a couple of years earlier, was one amongst the audience when the literaryinspiration hit her and she went on to publish her book on prose and poetry, entitled ‘Milk and Honey’.Her slam poetry enthralled listeners during the launch of her new book, ‘the sun and her flowers’.
Food truly has no boundaries!
Another amazing session that cannot help but inspire you was the one called ‘Of Dastarkhans and Diet Regimes’, where Chand Sur, a 92 year old author was in conversation with Aanchal Malhotra, the heiress to the famous bookstore, Bahrisons. Chand Sur hasrecently published her own cookbook, entitled ‘Lucknow Cookbook’, and she took the entire room by a storm as she shared her belief that food transcends time and borders, and everywhere, brings people together. “Irish stew in Lucknow still feels the same as it was in Lahore” – Chand Sur In tones of the partition, the tale was carried forth by AanchalMalhotra, the author of ‘Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory’; who after interviewing people in Punjab, Kolkata, and Lahorereiterated Sur’s claim that food still connects people to each other, to their pasts, and to their memories, in ways that cannot possibly be imagined. She further emphasized on how digital devices are far from replacing the charm and pull of physical bookstores. “I wish kindle had a way to preserve second hand notes and the fragrance of the gifted roses tucked in them for years.” – AanchalMalhotra
The Jaipur Literature Festival was not just about English or about a particular publishing genre, but flowed on the waves formed by the amalgamation of a diverse selection of regional languages and genres that encompassed all that you could ponder upon. The festival was a celebration of all vernacular writers, as modern readers were taken on an adventure along with Hindi stalwarts like GauravSolanki, among others. Sustenance for the thinkers, many pearls of wisdom fell from the stage that cannot be forgotten. PhejinKonyak and Peter Bosheld a discussion on the tattooing traditions of the Konyak tribe; while DikshaBasu, the author of ‘The Windfall’asked all to get rid of the famous conventions and start writing about whateveryou want to write about, and not just about what you know; and the closing debate, which has always been a rather deafening event, covered a sensitive topic, ‘#MeToo: Do Men Still Have It Too Easy’.There was truly no dearth of options when it came to deciding where to go and what session to attend next. The Brave One : Then there was one session that involved Suki Kim, the author who lived in North Korea undercover for immersive journalism and hasbestsellers like The Interpreter to her name. Suki Kim came back from North Korea with stories about computer majors who didn’t know about the existence of the internet or even that man has been to the moon and back. Amy Tan tooheld a session called ‘The Joy Luck Club’ to help fire up the imagination of a number of budding writers. Show Your Talent : Rajasthan is no doubt a land of literary inspirations. The land of the brave can inspire the inner writer within any person who ventures into the state, and allows the vibes of Rajasthan to touch their soul. Apart from the intellectual sustenance, one of the things that one gotto hear about at the JLF was about a Rajasthan Tourism contest called AuthorSthan. An open contest, budding writers are invited to send in their writings, like poems or short stories,about how Rajasthan has been an inspiration for them. After all, when one thinks about Rajasthan, they either think about the historical significance, orthey think about literary masterpieces. As the fun and frolic of the JLF 2018 came to an end, it brought with it the exciting announcement about the dates for the JLF 2019, the next edition which Neil Gaiman, Zadie Smith, Yuval Harari, and TildaSwinton are already chalked up to visit.