Salman Rushdie finally didn’t come. Literature lovers across the country are feeling betrayed. But then that’s politics at it best, I would say. Who cares about liberal voices in this country? As somebody who loves the world of word immensely, I am here at the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2012. The first thing I noticed was the security and all the checking one had to go through for getting an entry (it happened for the first time here, I have been here before). I am just putting a collage of images that stayed in my mind. For serious literature, I will write when I am back at my desk at home.
PRISON DIARIES AND CHOCOLATE CAKE: Iftikhar Gilani, Anjum Zamarud Habib, Sahil Maqbool (all from Kashmir) were there at Jaipur Literature Festival talking about their experiences of being termed as a terrorist/traitor and subsequently arrested and put in the jail. Even as they were recounting their gut-wrenching experiences, there was this woman in the audience who was seen relishing her chocolate cake. It did seem a little bit ironical as you really don’t put prison horrors and chocolates together. But then as they say chocolate is nothing but just pure sin.
CROWD AND MORE CROWD: There’s a saying in Odia (a language spoken in the Eastern Indian state called Odisha) “sorisha pakai baku bhi jagga na thila.” which means “the place was so crowded that you couldn’t even put mustard seeds.” The moment I saw the venue, this saying came to my mind. Crowd and more crowd everywhere. There’s was no running away from people. When I was here to attend the literary festival in 2010, one could sit, relax and indulge in a drink in the evening and strike a conversation with a friend or a stranger. But this year, to run from one venue to another after a session gets over, one has to push one’s way through a sea of people. For everything, there’s queue— from grabbing a cup of coffee, sandwich to drinking water. Needless to say, I had to do a forced Anna Hazare act on the first day (without any food).
STYLE: JLF has become a place to be in, to be seen and to generally sashay in style. So, there were ladies and ladies in their perfectly co-ordinated long overcoats, boots (meant for New York in winters), LVs, Pradas and colourful expensive shawls and stoles. If you have it, flaunt it— never mind even if it’s a literature festival. I heard three women discussing a younger woman’s ear-ring in such detail that I thought they can give competition to Rohington Mistry for his brilliantly vivid novel ‘A fine Balance.’ My humble question: Style, can you name a place which you have not invaded?
CLICK, CLICK: Can somebody please tell me who thought of bringing this nuisance in this world called ‘mobile phone with camera’. Today, it’s all about capturing the moment through the lens. Nobody is in a mood to listen to an author or a musician singing a soulful song. All that people want is to look through the lens. Imagine hundred of cameras all around you in active mode all through the day, when all you want is words, solitude and a calming thought process. Well, in the age of 24X7 news, Facebook, twitter, probably this is too much to expect.
NET GAIN: From conversations, I overheard I could make it out that, everybody is a writer now. Either somebody is writing about a book he/she read or she’s penned a story/poem. But lots of people are writing and the internet, I must say is a great leveler. Long live the power of expression or the right to express yourself.