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Heading to Litfest after 3 years, and my heart is skipping a beat.
I started going to Litfest about 12 years ago, on a whim. A group of us at a reunion, all avid readers and close friends, thought this would be a fun thing to explore.
We stay in a tiny little hotel, more like a guest house. It’s comfortable but not luxurious. The atmosphere is homely, the food like home food. The staff has started recognising us as festival regulars and press us to have ‘ek aur roti’ or try the dessert.
Mornings start with a scramble to get ready, have brekker and get to the festival in time to catch the tail end of the morning music. We’ve heard some amazing singers over the years, from Sonam Kalra to Subramania.
Once the proceedings of the day start, it’s an embarassment of riches as you are forced to Sophie’s Choice between that biographer you loved to a geopolitical book of the year to a candid Bollywood star’s autobiography. Over the years, we’ve heard Organ Pamuk, JM Coetzee, Pico Iyer, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Dalrymple, Hamid Karzai and Oprah.
As a festival veteran, you learn some new skills. You learn to spot an empty seat from yards away and perfect the art of squeezing in before someone else beats you to it. You learn to pace yourself. A few sessions in, your brain is wired and tired; it needs a break. You move back to the end of the front lawn and savour the sun over a perfect cup of masala chai or chaat and kachoris served by the ladies of Diggi Palace.
Periodically, like a lapsed alcoholic, I make my way to the bookshop tent, intoxicated by the sheer mind-boggling volume and variety and stagger out with yet another haul of books I’d love to read, someday. I think Tsundoku is the official sponsor of Litfest.
Sometimes we need a break from the mental stimulation and step out for that glass of thick, rich Jaipuri lassi topped with malai. Other times we make a beeline to the Anokhi cafe to relish their delicious blue cheese salad and incredible sephardic cake. We go shopping and discover gems like Pink or Jaipur Modern.
In the evenings, sometimes we go to the music event. We’ve heard Junoon perform live, Susheela Raman, Abha Hanjoora and many more light up the night with soul stirring music. One year we heard L Subramanian perform magic on stage – half an hour before this we’d seen him and his wife wrapped in innumerable layers, trying to talk to the audience through wildly chattering teeth. It’s usually chilly as hell so we wrap our gloves around a glass of whisky, waiting for the spirit to warm us from inside out. We run into friends and acquaintances, renew old friendships and forge new ones.
We usually manage an evening at Tablu, the rooftop bar at Clarks. It is cold as ice with a chill wind blowing through. But the bartender serves great drinks and the music used to be from our youth. A panoramic view of Jaipur lights up the venue.
Later on, I and my friends get back to our hotel for the after party. One of the balconies is usually colonized by us and we sit and have wide ranging discussions, from the sessions we attended to the issues they touch upon, to whatever else is going on in life, lubricated by whisky or wine. It feels like a salon.
By the end of the Litfest, the mind is overflowing with ideas, knowledge and questions. I, for one, wish I could plunge into this world of books, words and ideas completely. I have to make do by stacking my house with too many books for the time being. When I leave, I feel like I’ve reclaimed part of my soul from the daily routine, rescued my mind from stressing about the every day. It’s a feastival in every sense of the word.
Image source: YouTube/ Jaipur Lit Fest
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What I loved was how there is so much in the movie of the SRK we have known, and also a totally new star. The gestures, the smile, the wit and the charisma are all too familiar, but you also witness a rawness, an edginess.
When a movie that got the entire nation in a twist – for the right and wrong reasons – hits the theatres, there is bound to be noise. From ‘I am going to watch it – first day first show’ to ‘Boycott the movie and make it a flop’, social media has been a furore of posts.
Let me get one thing straight here – I did not watch Pathaan to make a statement or to simply rebel as people would put it. I went to watch it for the sheer pleasure of witnessing my favourite superstar in all his glory being what he is best at being – his magnificent self. Because when it comes to screen presence, he burns it, melts it and then resurrects it as well like no other. Because when it comes to style and passion, he owns it like a boss. Because SRK is, in a way, my last connecting point to the girl that I once was. Though I have evolved into so many more things over the years, I don’t think I am ready to let go of that girl fully yet.
There is no elephant in the room really here because it’s a fact that Bollywood has a lot of cleaning up to do. Calling out on all the problematic aspects of the industry is important and in doing that, maintaining objectivity is also equally imperative. I went for Pathaan for entertainment and got more than I had hoped for. It is a clever, slick, witty, brilliantly packaged action movie that delivers what it promises to. Logic definitely goes flying out of the window at times and some scenes will make you go ‘kuch bhi’ , but the screenplay clearly reminds you that you knew all along what you were in for. The action sequences are lavish and someone like me who is not exactly a fan of this genre was also mind blown.
A new Gallup poll reveals that up to 40% of Indian women are angry compared to 27% of men. This is a change from 29% angry women and 28% angry men 10 years ago, in 2012.
Indian women are praised as ‘susheel’, virtuous and to be emulated when they are obedient, ready to serve others and when they put the wishes of others before their own. However, Indian women no longer seem content to be in the constrictive mould that the patriarchy has fashioned for them. A Gallup poll looked at the issue of women’s anger, their worry, stress, sadness and found that women consistently feel these emotions more than men, particularly in India.
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