skph1 300x189 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3


By Sunil Kumar

If we were to construct a tracking shot on the great canvas of life, it would be a blockbuster. The world today lives on extended imagery, conveniently living other people’s lives without even realizing it.

Princess Diana died in 1997, and I was sitting in some stupid college festival in Sydenham, Mumbai. Actually it should be pronounced as ham in Syden, since I have now had quite a lot of it in Germany, etc. Our shastras were quite liberal before the puritan Victorian nincompoops appeared to plunder India, this info is for my local friends and abroad.We shift the camera back to Jaipur, the capital of Rajputana, formerly where some of our greatest battles were shot, I mean fought. I am sure Ashotosh Gowariker would agree with me, I met him somewhere recently.

In The Beginning

I arrive early at the venue and sit at the Tata Steel Front Lawns. Expectedly, it was jampacked with a lot of local and Indian media waiting for the great doyen from the West. Not quite getting front-row seats, I still am seated quite close to the stage. Shekhar Kapoor, Indian film director as well as Kabir Bedi, some other celebrities, and an army of cameramen, photographers seem to have arrived for the talk-show priestess.

Barkha Dutt seems to be at her effervescent best. As for me, I like the person sitting next to me, a simple person from Haryana. He gives me a straight response on the land of milk and honey, our country’s bread basket. The other people strike me as being false, pretentious and untrue, a brown blot.

So, Oprah arrives on the stage with some pomp and pageantry, and we are witness to our fawning, gyrating local as well as global media. I admire this lady, but again shows how skewed our country is. In the United States of America, they would only be slightly aware of what’s goin’ on in India, but the rest of the world seems to be in an imagined stupor. Lest I forget, I listened to an interesting discourse on Kabir and Dadu Dayal before this.

Chopra’s On

The next act after Oprah is Chopra, Deepak. Although his metaphysical quantum theories are interesting and transport people into a dream-like alternate reality, there are contradictory views. I shall put in a link from the Skeptic Magazine, an interesting debate between Deepak and the Editor. Quantum causality and all that jazz can ideally make us think more profoundly about the nature of the universe, after we can down some teas and have lunch. In a thousand years, the place where I and the other people were sitting would have transformed, and I do not know what would happen to these words and code in the extended world of cyberspace. Britain could be a jungle with monkeys.

Also, again the West and the rest of the world is funny. They bomb most of the places, and then celebrate culture in a theatrical rerun, marketing gimmickry. The mystical poet Rumi is mentioned often. Rumi, Jalaludin is from Balkh in Afghanistan and lived in Istanbul, Turkey, a city which I saw for a short time just recently.

After this spiritual-marketing exercise, let us move on to Michael Ondaatje, Philip Marsden, Tabish Khair , Kunal Basu and the art of historical fiction. Out of this, I met Mr. Basu somewhere on the sidelines. When the Qing dynasty ruled China, and they practised foot-binding, they were probably not aware that after three hundred years, their country would be an industrial colossus, and everybody from around the world would be so interested in the sights and sounds of the Forbidden Kingdom.


‘Journalism as Literature’ is interesting. Katherine Boo like all Americans, some people from the West, and a few local clones, seems to be partially taken aback by the natives and their tendency to now increasingly look after themselves. If you manage to conveniently loot India, and still do so in different ways, it is time the empire should be able to buy a few things back.

After all it’s open season with money, all you guys and every local crony made the world in its image. Indian IT seems to support jobs in the US, UK etc and neglect its own backyard. And the great President smartly quotes the half-apologetic, gritty but interesting father of this nation while indulging in rabid, outright protectionism himself. Geo-politics is another extension of our true selfish natures.

The day ends as I listen to Tom Stoppard and David Hare talking about plays. I would suggest that they see a few local acts in Bombay, as they were much more interesting than the massively boring ideas of the West. Life is peaceful here, in the open air. With no fan on, I’m sweating.


Skeptic 1 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3

Skeptic (U.S. magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)















 Jaipur Literary Festival   Day 3
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