Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There and back again

Back from the literary fest in Jaipur. Had a decent time on the whole though it began badly – I was felled by motion sickness on the way there and ended up spending the entire first day in a headachey haze. Monday was much better though. Attended readings/talks by Hari Kunzru, Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple, Anita Roy, Vivek Narayanan and Shobhaa De (who predictably had the largest audience and the longest line of autograph/byte-seeking admirers with the most reverential looks on their faces), and managed a couple of short interviews. Not a lavish event or anything but pretty well organised given that it was the first edition of the festival, put together on a small budget, and that some last-minute cancellations threw the schedule out of gear.

It wouldn’t have been much fun if I’d gone alone though. Nikhil and Chandrahas were great company (excepting this shared character flaw that they are Rahul Dravid fans and wanted to watch highlights of his century at the same time that Indian Idol was on. This is unacceptable). Nikhil is as smart-alecky in real life as in blog meets (though at heart he’s a sweet young lad, not the devil’s advocate he likes to think he is), while Chandrahas – already a reputed lit-blogger, honorary Russian, short-story writer and master of the thoughtful, faraway expression – showed an unforeseen talent for making up wordgames, like the one where you form a never-ending chain out of the names of Pakistani cricketers (Mohamed Yousuf-->Mohammed Akram-->Wasim Akram-->Wasim Raja and so on).

Will blog about the fest in detail later. For now, I’m faced with the terrifying prospect of checking email and Bloglines updates after being away from the Internet for three days. It really is very frightening, especially when one is on many different mailing groups. (Which reminds me – Desicritics, a promising new group blog, is launching very soon, so do keep an eye out for it.)

More soon.

Nikhil looking sweet and dear-boyish, and Chandrahas with trademark thoughtful expression (in truth, they’re both sated by the large kabab-ish dinner we had just to show that Amit Varma chap).

Chandrahas (right) looks thoughtful and Russian as Hari Kunzru (centre) holds court.
[Click on pics to enlarge. And apologies for poor quality – this is my cue to run out and buy that digital camera I’ve been putting off for so long. Recommendations welcome.]


  1. Where be photu of sessky humanitarian? Ohhh the moans of the disappointed damsels!

    As for camera - price no object? Suggestions would, after all, depend on budget. Curlilocks, for example, now has a Canon Rebel digital SLR which is about as good as one needs.

    But I have a built-in 28-240 zoom! (Peals of maniacal laughter fade in the distance ...)


  2. The venue looks lovely. Pray what is the Russian connection?

    A reverential expression for Shobhaa De is hilarious.

  3. I'd be very interested to know what Dalrymple read from and is working on. Is he still reading from White Mughals or is he working on something else?

    It sounds as though you had a wonderful time. I'll look forwward to the articles.


  4. Oh forgot to add, met a really sweet American couple on Sunday who had travelled to Jaipur and were very enamoured with the royal family, because they had read A Princess Remembers.

    They really regretted that they weren't able to meet Bubbles, Gayatri Devi's son. I could barely keep a straight face. Bubbles!!!

  5. the graduate: Dalrymple didn't read but his talk covered White Mughals territory. Will post more soon, but it'll all be snippety, not indepth. Don't have much time.

    JAP: Disappointed damsels may be directed to this post. No lecherous stubble there though.

    Swati: some of us believe Chandrahas is descended directly from Pushkin, hence the Russian bit. Can't explain it here, you need to meet him to figure out the connection.

    About Bubbles: I have big fat sardar uncles who have been known all their lives by nicknames like Bulbul, Lucky and even Quicky!

    It's always fun to make digs at people who revere Lady De - but to be honest, at a serious level, I'm not snobbish about these things. The majority of people aren't "serious" readers, and fair enough: many of them probably do more useful things with their lives. On the rare occasions they do read, if they find something to admire/relate to in a Shobhaa De (or Chetan Bhagat) book, so what?

    *ends lecture*

  6. Oh I do agree Jai. Even though I haven't read anything by her, I sort of liked the way she marketed herself, bold sassy, sexed up.

    Alas with her new marriage book she's turned more regressive than my grandma.

  7. Admirable broadmindedness, Jabberwock, re: worshippers at the church of pulplit. I either get the giggles or become afraid. Since I happened to mention Chetan Bhagat in a post of my own the other day, I just looked up your record on the man. Now I'm both giggling and afraid. Help.

  8. finally a serious lit buff who said the 'right' words about bhagat and de. not enuff actually...

    and if only the editors at publishing houses realise it, the more accessible books you publish the more people are likely to read(yeah just read, and not pontificate about cosmic significance of the humble apostrophe) instead being numbed by endless television viewing.

    no ones asking them to stop publishing the tripe they do right now, under the pretensions of literature. but give the unread masses something to think about even if its just the Rs.95 price tag.

    i think one can study the phenomenon ie ON@TC2 for some interesting pointers...

  9. For all the snide remarks about Shobhaa De, I found some of her comments on writing quite interesting (and surprising). Particularly the one about writing being isolationist. Wish I'd paid more attention and taken more notes amidst all that chuckling.

    That's my hand on the left in the Kunzru photograph. You can post the other angle. In any case, I will in the evening.

  10. oye, that Russian bit cracked me up :D Infact, in the second pic if you replace that green arch in the background with Lenin's statue or something it would look like Leningrad, or Stalingrad or whatever coz Hari Kunzru adds that special effect.

    no kidding, even my word verification sounds Russian..

  11. that chandrahas and nikhil pix - they look like gays!

  12. Ooh, I'm so envious...well, I can read about the festival, thanks to you! I read about twenty pages of Shoba De's book on marriage, and I could not complete it. I got bored with her relating how she and Dilip sometimes just took a boat to some island near Bombay, and they sipped wine on these stolen evenings at their cottage. I was totally willing to let her enlighten me, but now I guess I shall remain clueless about what makes marriages work.