It was a cold, cloudy day. The RSS quota row was still the hot topic. We tend to latch on to stories in the news business, blow them up like bubble gum (mostly with good reason).
Aishwarya Dhanush talked about Jallikattu. She supported it, like the rest of her family. “It’s a sport of the youth in Tamil Nadu. It’s our tradition.” She was promoting her book – Standing on an Apple Box: The Story of a Girl among the Stars. I haven’t read it.
In the Front Lawns, they were discussing Brexit. “We want to be independent. We want to make our own mistakes. And that’s why Brexit”, thundered British historian Andrew Roberts. Linda Colley, another historian and writer, wasn’t impressed – “it’s not just identity, it’s not just economics. The repercussions may affect the whole structure of the United Kingdom. We are not in control. Brexit is setting loose all kinds of demons!”
The other speakers were equally emphatic in expressing their concern. AN Wilson worried that “one of the really horrible repercussions of Brexit is that it is an encouragement to the neo-Nazi sections in Europe which are growing stronger.” Timothy Garten Ash said, “The people who will suffer are not on this panel. They were sold a lie. Britain will fall apart!” I quite sympathise. But then someone pointed out that we’re all suffering/will suffer the consequences of dangerous politics. Donald Trump is the President. Ergo.
There were some good sessions on cultural appropriation and Kalidasa: the eternal poet, which I missed. I did sit through The Camera-In Jaipur. Sudhir Kasliwal showed some stunning pictures of the old city, told us how photography used to be an expensive, royal pursuit, and how it’s now literally child’s play with camera phones and what have you.
Meandering through the stalls I reached the bookstore. Who said they’re a dying species?! This one was packed like a metro train at rush hour. I had to exit.
It was getting colder and more crowded. Charbagh was choc-a-block for Shashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple’s talk on The East India Company. Never saw so many young people show such avid interest in history. The times, they sure are a changin. Not only because Dylan’s won the Nobel for literature.
Back at the media terrace, we had a cinnamon chai pe charcha. Couldn’t decide which musical event to attend and how to pre-empt rude surprises like late night RSS press conferences.
There’s some gig at Hawa Mahal. Will share pictures if I attend. Ciao!