“The Greatest Literary Show on Earth” – allegedly!

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Third time lucky? Perhaps! I am finally on my way to Jaipur – to The DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, to give it its full title – after my initial attempts in previous years were foiled because of adverse weather conditions (flights cancelled) and the vagaries of Indian visa restrictions. Described variously as the ‘biggest’, the ‘most significant’ literature festival in Asia, including ‘the greatest literary show on earth’, this gathering of international literati hit the headlines last year when Salman Rushdie was banned from making an appearance here. Apparently, according to today’s Times of India, Rushdie is currently in the country promoting the film of his book Midnight’s Children; and, no, he has not been invited again.

In spite of that, the Festival programme looks tantalizing – like a sumptuous feast where you know you are going to end up with mental indigestion if you are not careful; provided, of course, you get into the very crowded venues in the first place. The editor (of AGI) warned me not to consume too much food while in Jaipur. I wonder if she meant literary food! One of the Directors of the Festival, William Dalrymple, wishes he could clone himself and attend all five sessions taking place concurrently in various venues in the Diggy Palace complex in Jaipur for the next 5 days. A regular attendee who is travelling with me from Delhi sighs that even the contributors have ‘to fight to get a seat’.

like a sumptuous feast where you know you are going to end up with mental indigestion if you are not careful; provided, of course, you get into the very crowded venues in the first place

Other people confirm that it is virtually impossible to get into (m)any of the events. Since nothing is ticketed (the events are free but you do have to register) and there are far too many punters fighting for the few available seats, I am unlikely to see much other than queues and frustrated visitors.  The Dalai Lama has agreed to make an appearance tomorrow and that will keep the security staff on their toes.  Hang on! The train is about to pull inro Jaipur station. I have finally made it!  Taxi! No, make that a tut-tut!

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