Musings From Literary Heaven


My New Year’s resolution for 2012 didn’t feature the intangible list of things that fail to get accomplished year after year. This time around, I fixedly decided to act on my dreams; to go places that I have always desired to. One such intent was realised earlier this year in January when I made up my mind to go to the Jaipur Literature Festival, a colossal literary meet of sorts.

A 15-minute drive away from my hotel was the magnificent Diggi Palace, the festival’s venue for the five days that were to follow. This converted haveli built in the 1860s is owned and occupied by Rajasthani royalty to date. The air was festive with rainbow-hued flags and the equally kaleidoscopic crowd. Pouring over books in the book store and at stalls selling festival merchandise, food and knick-knacks that dotted the venue seemed to be the most natural thing to do as I whiled away time between sessions. The Pushkari tea vendors added to the charm of the surroundings, but more importantly lent warmth and the sweet fragrance of cardamom tea to the otherwise cold evenings.

It was pure heaven for those like me who were eager to soak up new perspectives and to hear some of the most revolutionary thinkers, authors, journalists and philosophers of our time. Some spoke about their thoughts on evolution; others on writing styles, trends and the art of the playwright and yet others on seemingly controversial topics as diverse as the bane of religions. I took back with me oodles of information and broadened my horizons about my passions as a writer and more importantly, as an avid reader.

At first, remembering the names and locations of the venues in which concurrent sessions took place for the length of the festival was a task. On attending session after session in different spaces that included halls, lawns and tents, I began to associate characteristic identities with each venue. Baithak, a shady zone that seated less than a 100 people saw many an intimate dialogue, while the open air Front Lawns that hosted sessions by Oprah Winfrey, Tom Stoppard and Richard Dawkins, and which was always packed to the hilt with several thousands of people was a central hub of energy. As if all that intellectual stimulation wasn’t a treat enough for me, there were music performances by One Giant Leap, the ecstatic Parvathy Baul and Dub Colossus too. I had read so much
about Parvathy Baul and here was the energetic, dreadlocked musician keeping the Baul tradition alive!

The festival for me represented many things: free thinking, free spiritedness and a gathering of over 30,000 like-minded people! Freedom of speech is what we thought it was all about, and it was for the better part! But the Salman Rushdie episode, which incidentally failed to eclipse the goings-on at this event aside from a few renowned authors being issued death threats by certain groups of people, this very fundamental right was questionedby those present and continues to be the centre of debate in the country.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed till the very last moment of the festival. It wasn’t just due to the insane crowds that comprised the young and the old; it was the realisation of a dream and the opportunity to have been exposed to path-breaking thoughts and works by some of the most respected writers. Pangs to return to this haven lingered for days on end. I can only wait for next year’s literary jamboree when words take centre stage once again!

Volume 1 Issue 9


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here