Just a few last things about the Jaipur Literature Festival ...
I had promised myself that I wouldn’t mention the word “Jaipur” again until next year. But unfortunately I found I have a few more things to say so here goes.
First: I’m too vain to resist showing off something else I wrote about the festival, which appeared in the current issue of Marie Claire. I’m pasting the page here, along with a flattering photo and mini-Q&A they did with me.
Besides vanity, another reason I wanted it up is to identify Mehran Qureshi as the student who asked the question I mentioned in the article. He’s a young Kashmiri studying architecture in Jaipur. After the session, I had a chat with him. A lot of times when I meet youngsters – including, occasionally, some of those who’ve lived in my home since their earliest days – I feel (quite characteristically for someone with an “in my days things were so much better” perspective) a little panicked about the future of the human race. I get the urge to say, “wtf go get a life guys” or something similar in inverted commas, with long-suffering sigh to reinforce the sentiments. But Mehran seemed thoughtful and discerning and I thought, “Duas, bachha, may your tribe increase”.
Second: when I meet journalist friends who scoff at the festival and shudder and call it a mela or say things like “Oh I’m glad I didn’t go, I heard it was really bad this year” I thank myself for being unsophisticated enough to have had a great time and know when I’m really enjoying myself as opposed to when I’m supposed to be enjoying myself so that others will think I’m cool. Last night I was at a dinner raising funds for the Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit foundation promoting sports and games in India with the motto It Takes Just 6 Grams of Gold to Raise A Nation’s Worth. We shook hands with Leander Paes, Geet Sethi, Prakash Padukone and even M.C. Marykom. Over dinner, Rahul Bajaj sat down next to me and we chatted. And I kept thinking, how WASTED this is on me. Give me writers any day.
Third: the dramatic appearance of Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the festival. For security reasons the session was announced barely an hour before it took place, and was held in a closed space despite the many who were curious to see and hear this controversial person. Click here to read my article in the 6 Feb issue of Open magazine with some of what she said and did.