Happy Republic Day!
Sorry about my long absence... I was away at the Lit Fest in Jaipur.
And..... hear this .... I am going to be away once again from the 28th onwards. This is going to be a longish break. Am planning to visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, plus a few days spent with our son Ranadip in Singapore. Not sure I'll have internet access at these destinations since I'll be leaving my best friend ( the laptop!) behind. However, I promise I shall try my best to at least 'mini-blog' from wherever I am. I miss this space more than you can imagine!
The Jaipur Lit Fest has GROWN. That's an understatement. It is soooooo huge now, that it is entirely possible to get lost at Diggi Palace (the official venue), where the resident royals look after guests - why, right royally, of course! William Dalrymple runs the show splendidly with his army of White Mughals. Co-promoter Namita Gokhale deals with mounting, minute-by-minute stress the best she can. It IS a moveable feast. And how lucky is Jaipur to play host to what Tina Brown calls ' The Greatest Literature Show on Earth." And how lucky am I to be only the second writer invited back for yet another feast ( Hari Kunzru, is the other one).Each time you turn around, you get blinded by the dazzle of literary stars rushing from one courtyard to the next, intellectual gems pouring out of their mouths as fans greedily hang on to every word. This is how it should be, dammit!!
I enjoyed my session with Marie Brenner, the award- winning journo ('Vanity Fair'), who exposed Enron ( remember the movie 'The Insider' based on her book?). I'll tell you what made this special and memorable - Marie's professionalism. It was a class act. Our journos have a lot to learn from seasoned and celebrated writers like Marie, who don't take a thing for granted. She had read my books, done her homework scrupulously and structured the one hour session sensibly. She conducted the proceedings seamlessly, devoid of personal ego.There was zero attempt at one upmanship as she allowed a free flow of questions with the audience. We met a brief half hour before our pre-lunch session, and struck an immediate rapport. " Let's keep the mood lively and intimate, " Marie suggested, adding, "Let's chat like girl friends." And this is exactly how it went. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, especially when Marie quoted Sartre and asked me whether I thought it important to throw metaphorical bombs at society in order to disturb the peace! Me as a Molotov Cocktail in Mumbai and elsewhere? Why not?? I hate complacency. More of us should disturb the peace. I hadn't really looked at it in this context, but thank you, Marie. You have planted a fantastically subversive ,highly attractive and potentially lethal idea in my head! Watch out, readers. There are some serious explosions coming your way!
Sorry, but I really don't understand why we fell all over ourselves when it came to Hanief Kureishi. He was supercilious and condescending at the best of times, twitching his nose and being more Brit than the British! I loved 'My Beautiful Laundrette," but that was because I love Daniel Day Lewis. Hanif wrote that terrific book based on his family ( his uncle ran a laundrette). I am sure Hanief has done some wonderful stuff after that - but WHAT???