It’s that time of the year again when the bookies get divided into two categories: one, those who trudge their way to Jaipur to listen and watch the writers and critics, baul singers and the gliterary set strut their stuff; and, two, those who don’t go because they won’t suffer the paperback masses (entry at the Jaipur Literature Festival is free), insisting all the while that they’ll skip it because they find the ‘tamasha’ unbearable.
Attending a book event is a totally different experience from reading a book. But attending a literary ‘performance’ can be a pleasurable experience. Like there is a good book and a bad book, there can be a good book event or a bad one, the latter usually marked by a droning sound from a stage.
So here’s a ready reckoner to tell you what kind of Jaipur Lit Fest visitor you will be:
1) You see Orhan Pamuk having a quiet moment with Kiran Desai. Your reaction is:
a) to saunter up and get a photo taken with them.
b) to conduct a quick comparative study of Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence and Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.
c) to give Pamuk your manuscript and ask him to put in a word with some publishers.
2) During a Vikram Seth session, you ask him:
a) Are you really gay or is it just a writer thing?
b) If you wrote The Golden Gate today, would you have used the ababccddeffegg pattern of the Onegin stanza?
c) Will you look at my rhyming novel and put in a good word with some publishers?
3) Your glass is empty and it’s last orders at the bar. Gulzar is standing behind you. You:
a) pretend he’s an organiser and ignore him.
b) turn around and recite, “Sharab sharir ko khatam karti hai/sharab samaj ko khatam karti hai/aao aaj is sharab ko khatam karte hai” and let him have the last drink.
c) ask him to look at your poems and put in a good word with some film lyricists.
4) Candace Bushnell is signing books. You go up to her and:
a) get your copy of Eat, Pray, Love signed.
b) get your girlfriend’s mother’s copy of Sex and the City signed and let out a weak smile.
c) ask her for her email so that you can send your novel to her for possible adaptation into an HBO TV series.
If your answers are mostly a) you are a book fest whore who’s never seen the insides of a book; if b) you should be up there on the stage, not in the audience; if c) you’ll be a famous author very soon.
Follow our coverage of the 6th Jaipur Literature Festival
HT At The Fest from January 21 to January 26 on these pages and on www.hindustantimes.com