Jaipur Literature Festival 2014

-By Salika Virji

17th of January me and a couple of friends were very excited to attend a festival of this caliber and we realised that there is a place for artistic people to get purely inspired by interesting personalities.

We were very lucky to hear talks from fabulous people who had great substance and shared a lot with the crowd through their experiences and work.

People from all walks of life were present – students, families, publicists, artists, writers, journalists and photographers. A mix bag which added a lot of excitement and flavour to the event.

Jhumpa Laheri writer of the namesake, Vikas Khanna, the great master chef, Irfan Khan, Suhel Seth, Prasoon Joshi and my personal favourite Gloria Steinem a major contributor to the feminist movement in the world were people I watched.

Diggi palace is where this event took place, very nicely planned and the festival creates a vibrant energy in the air, beautifully decorated chai being sold in little earthen Matkas , bru coffee and not to miss out on the garam garam pyaas ki kachoris . And a wide variety of food as well. Venders selling artistic things, talent unleashed and openings for people who have a passion for literature.

Jhumpa Laheri spoke about her new book called THE LOWLAND and described how it came to life while she was writing it. She said writing this book was like a journey and she spoke of various characters from her book. The detail in which she talks about characters was very simplistic but managed to create a great impact .she has a fabulous way with word. She also said without language she would be a nobody.

Vikas Khanna spoke straight from the heart and said he failed miserably in the initial part of his career – was broke untill one day he was called by his holiness ‘Dalai Lama’ who put his hand on his forehead and blessed him saying “New beginning” . Was a very intense heart touching experience and he is now going to be hosting a show on the tv channel Fox traveller .Vikas Khanna who is from Amritsar said he failed in school in every subject apart from creativity . He began cooking at the Golden temple and that was the food given out as ‘prasaad’ . He also said cooking is all about putting your heart into it and if two people were given the same ingredients to make the same dish both people’s dishes would turn out different.

It’s amazing to know how we are all destiny children’s and he says, “failure” should not be such a cuss word and we must all have a sense of positive surrender . Every failure is only a new BEGINING after all.

Last but not the least was Gloria Steinem who I had the great opportunity of meeting personally by chance though I truly believe there are no accidents or coincidences and the universe has a way of making you meet people to give you certain messages.

Gloria Steinem has written several books like A thousand India’s, moving beyond words and several other books. She also started the political movement of feminism in the world. At the festival she spoke of various concepts and the one I liked the most was about relationships. She spoke about how relations begin with first being dependent, independent and then interdependent . Very enlightening and educative session. She also spoke about women and the situation of women in the world, the importance of feminism and the revolution she managed to create in the world. Very elegant personality 80 years old and still continues to contribute tremendously. I felt very empowered to meet her personally.

Also met an Australian photographer named Tyson Jon cable who is recording moments of his adventure “From Australia to Estonia” his next stop will be Pakistan. Me and my friends were scared for him considering how dangerous it could be at the border. But he was beyond fear and lived in the moment.

He experimented eating paan, spices and took some beautiful photographers of forts in Jaipur. These are all available on his Facebook page titled adventure from Australia to Estonia.

So the Jlf left me feeling very alive, inspired and energised. The third year of the festival and still draws crowds from all over. Highly recommended. Please do go.

Nityaasha Foundation