All very sarkari
This year’s opening ceremony dragged and lacked the buzz of previous years. Attended by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, the speeches were desultory and replete with words like your ‘excellency’. Chief guest Karan Singh went on and on and on — first in Hindi, then in English. And like most ex-royals, the man talked about his ancestors, going on to boast about how he read Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, TS Eliot as a kid.
A throat for Urdu
In the session on ‘Urdu zabaan’ (the Urdu tongue), Javed Akhtar kept on talking while Gulzar kept on coughing. A lady was heard saying with considerable mirth: “I’m so happy. I’m an Urdu speaker.” She said this in chaste English. She also passed a bottle of cough medicine to Gulzar.
Before getting up on-stage, an anxious looking Gurcharan Das, author of India Unbound, told Pulitzer-winning author of Lords of Finance Liaquat Ahamad: "You are not wearing a suit! You are not looking like an investment banker. I forgive you.” Gurcharan was in a white kurta-pajama that he thought was “as sunny as the weather.”