Jaipur Literature Festival
I am on a quick break -- doing a gig or two (and having a great time) at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The whole phenomenon of the "literary festival" is a strangely comforting development of modern culture. I often think how much my Mum and Dad would have been keen participants, if only they (the parents, that is) hadn't died just a bit too soon for such events to have taken off--- at least, within spitting distance of Shrewsbury.
Jaipur is a bit different from the UK versions, though. That's probably because the festival here is entirely free of charge. And it is absolutely packed (the picture above doesn't quite capture the crowds). And the "no entrance fee" makes a difference to the demographic too. There are many more young people here than in the average British Lit Fest; much as I love them very dearly, they are -- to be honest -- a bit "my aged". The Jaipur Festival attracts loads of the under 30s. Some are coming 'on the pick-up' or for some cheap beer, no doubt, but a hell of a lot are (also) obviously going to the talks -- because they are all packed.
To put that another way, it's quite a different experience from speaking at a Brit Lit Fest. That's to say, speaking to people who have paid in advance to come and hear you, is different from talking to people who have turned up because they just MIGHT be interested. Both are fun, but they are very different.
Anyway the entertaiments at Jaipur are great. That's Olivia Dalrymple in the Writers' Lounge above. And the Glenlivet Bar in the same on the right ( think that might be Homi Bhabha in the foreground, but not quite so expert in the literary firmament to be sure). And I am in a hotel to die for (the roof of my "tent" underneath). Mind you I am working hard enough for it (third gig tomorrow, interviewing Jack Turner about his book on spices).
I'd reckon for any of the young, anywhere in the world -- if they could find a cheap flight -- that the festival would be a great way of seeing some of the western intellectual greats (not meaning me.. but they are here aplenty) as well as Indian stars, and those crossing continents. You can find this year's programme here.
Once you get here, it really is free.