Overheard in Jaipur

“The East India Company’s Guidebook to India had a chapter on Getting an Indian Girlfriend” – William Dalrymple, Author of White Mughals, not explaining the How to.

“I want to hold in me the heat of my combustion” – Vivek Narayanan, poet. (This was a part of one of his poems)

“The Internet is becoming like the weather – complex and out of any individual persons control. And these are all constructed things” – Hari Kunzru

“Children today are losing culture.” – several anonymous socialites, over two days.

“Ajab namkeen ka jaadu sar charh jata hain” – Harish Bhadani, a well known Rajashtani poet. (Translated: the taste of uniquely tasty and special salt goes to ones head)

“We know you take our money, but we love you anyway” – Vivek Narayanan, on prose writers, before reciting ‘Ode to prose’.

“In 1780, 1/3rd of all British officers left their belongings to their anglo-Indian children, or their bibis” – William Dalrymple, Author of White Mughals

“Once they’re out there, stories are everyones property – to be used, torn apart and changed.” – Anita Roy.

“I’m both from the coloniser and the colonised” – Hari Kunzru, about being half-Indian and half-British. (context: His ideas come from the need to answer personal questions. In the case of The Impressionist – where he came from.)

“What is the right age for telling children fantasy stories?” – a member of the audience, to author Anita Roy

“He’s like Jeeves.” – Chandrahas Chaudhury Jai Arjun Singh about Banwari, our ultra-efficient driver, pride of Jaipur.

“This city is full of doors and windows that you can’t open” – Anita Roy on Jaipur. She also drew our attention towards the false windows in the hall where the readings took place.

“I’m more comfortable with it, and all of my novels are in the first person. It allows one to get away with a lot of inconsistency.” Namita Gokhale, responding to Chandrahas Chaudhury‘s question about how it was that all the passages she read out were in first person. Her third next novel ‘Things to leave behind’ will be her first in third person.

“Look beyond the Panchtantra, and move on to something Indian and fresh, something that matches the pace of today’s life” – Anita Roy.

“We’ve gone from distinguishing people according to race, to according to culture” – Hari Kunzru

“After I kept a pot of tulsi in the room, I had no computer problems” Namita Gokhale, about her spooked PC that kept flashing the lines I hide in corners, I lurk in shadows, from her novel The Book of Shadows.

“Why Pink?” – Giles Tillotson on Jaipur the Pink City, before answering the question.

“The I that I am is the I that I make” – Hari Kunzru

“When I came to this city, I didn’t even have clothes…yes, I was born here” poet Anand Sharma on Jaipur (not sure of who said this)

“Men are a minority & humble around you” – a young lady man in the audience to Shobhaa De

“How far is it possible for a person to change? What stays the same throughout? This is an exercise in doubt, and how far can someone change with a change in his setting, and what remains the same? What is home?” – Hari Kunzru

“You need to learn how to cut the flab from your life” – Shobhaa De on time management (and more?)

“The more I go on writing, the more structured I seem to be getting” – Hari Kunzru

“The creative process is isolationist” – Namita Gokhale Shobhaa De

“Children like their endings to be conlcusive but if you was ‘What if?’ that can provoke the most unexpected reactions that allows the children to lear something about themselves” – Anita Roy

“Tradition and modernity are loaded terms. We need to go back and reopen questions” – Vivek Narayanan

“This hall is a room to dream in” – Namita Gokhale on the hall at Diggi Palace where the readings took place.

Chandrahas, Jai and I had gone to Jaipur for the Literary Festival, hosted by Pramod and Mita, ably supported by Devyani. We stayed at the Nirbana Palace (almost every hotel was suffixed with ‘Palace’), but spent most of our time at Diggi Palace (What did I tell you!). The non-literary highlights of the trip were the somewhat startling efficiency of Banwari of Indica 7368, the cream chicken dish at Chawla’s (recommended by Mita) and twenty minutes of extreme lazing in the sun at Diggi Palace. More on everything (particularly the literary events) later. Some photographs tomorrow.

P.s.: Jai’s already posted a photograph of Chandrahas and me. I look like a cat that’s had its fill of cream (chicken). His post is here.

Addendum: All the errors in the above post have been struck out(down) by the merciless Jabberwock.

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  1. Uhh… I’m the one who said Banwari was the Jeeves of Jaipur. Also, I think Vivek’s line “You take our money but we love you anyway” was part of the poem, not said before it.

    “Men are a minority & humble around you” was said by a young man, who then justified it by explaining that he felt humble – how could you forget this!

    “The creative process is isolationist” was said by Shobhaa De, not Gokhale.

    Nice list otherwise, but it kind of sucks that you have the luxury of just writing it all out like this while I’ll have to do a “structured”, comprehensive story. Painful.

  2. I’m sure Vivek said that before he began reciting the poem.

    Yeah, I remember now that the humbled person was a middle aged man. The (cute) young girl had said that Ms. De was the ideal feminist. Wish I’d kept my notepad with me during that one, instead of making snide remarks.

    I will be writing a structured sort of post later.

    Ooh! Cool word verification code – huhfly.

    (I kid you not: see this)

  3. nice. wish i could go too. am at the right place at the wrong time. always.

    and that photograph. the cat who ate the cream chicken. that was good work. the same place (i think) was recommended to us too, but we didn’t go.

  4. ps– to Jabberwock, Nikhil was right, the line about prose writers / bank robbers was not actually part of the poem, but something I just decided to say before the poem. And Edison recorded only Tennyson & Browning, Yeats was much later and someone else. Does it really matter? Nah.

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