by Zehra Kazmi
Diggi Palace struggles to maintain its stately elegance despite being overrun by a crowd of thousands every day between 21st to 25th of January of this year. There is something so alluring about the intricate floral patterns of Durbar Hall, the fancy tea that is sold for 70 bucks a cup at a Chaayos stall, the idea of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Margret Atwood and Homi K. Bhabha and those bright, chirpy decorations gracing the venue-not too different from some huge, overpriced mela. Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) is every nerdy bookworm’s paradise.
Sure, we are sometimes rudely awoken from this utopian dream by disruptions like Ravinder Singh and the strange men who enter the venue for the sole purpose of leering at unsuspecting foreign women - but otherwise, JLF is still highbrow heaven.
For the unacquainted, The Jaipur Literature Festival is India’s largest free literary festival and observed its eleventh edition this year. For many Delhi University students at least one trip to Jaipur is something that is meant to be checked off your list of “Things To Do As A DU Student”. So a bunch of us college mates packed our bags to attend our first JLF last year. This year was my second time at the festival, along with my cousin. After two years of successively attending the festival, I can write what I feel about the festival, with some degree of authority.
Once you reach there, you can easily make out that there are far too many people attending one session and you have to stand right at the end of the venue, peer through the heads of people a foot taller than you to catch a glimpse of a distant, blurry Paul Theroux on the stage, talking about his travels in the American Deep South. While standing in that crowd, you can smell the scent of expensive perfume mingling with that of pungent sweat, random conversations are struck and one learns that this is what attending the literary equivalent of a rock concert feels like.
From the loud, overbearing aunties who scramble after Shashi Tharoor for a signed copy of India: the Future is Now to the shady looking dude with a strange, dazed look in his eye - characters are abound at the festival. There will be those who will shamelessly run behind an author they love for a signed copy. I don’t judge the sort. But then, there are those, who will harass Girish Karnad for a selfie (which later becomes their Facebook cover photo as well) only because they saw him in Ek Tha Tiger.
The other people/sites you will also see at the festival-
This fest is insane.
I'm coming again next year.