Jaipur Literature Festival: Part 3.

Our hotel insisted on cutting the power twice a day. The afternoon didn't matter, because we were all at the festival, but it got really annoying in the morning. Bathing in cold water in north India during January just doesn't cut it, so we had to hang around and wait for the geyser to ping its red light which also meant we always missed the first talk.

There was no power cut on our last day there. Mawii and I sat and waited for it to go, and waited and waited, and then we realised it probably wasn't going off.

I must confess, I felt aggrieved. The power cut always gave me a good excuse to get back into bed, and it failed me, failed me, on my last day.

It took us ages to get there because Oprah was due that day.We got there halfway through a talk on superpowers of the twenty first century. The tent was packed - we sat outside on the grass, listening to it through the speakers. I felt like a hobo.

We managed muscling our way in for the next talk which was on Pakistan, and the panelists were Fatima Bhutto and Ayesha Jalal. It was probably one of my favourite talks - a cow, a lonely and emotionally fragile cow, kept mooing mournfully in between, and naturally the moderator had to turn it into a running joke, thereby stripping the entire situation of all its humour. Mawii and I, for our part, enjoyed ourselves, and passed snide comments about all the plebian fools who'd flocked to see Oprah.

I kept bumping into Dhruv Rajashekaran everywhere I went. I'm in the middle of a crowd, Dhruv pops out from nowhere with a cheerful hello. I'm sitting under an umbrella on the lawns, engrossed in a book. Dhruv pops out from nowhere with a cheerful hello. I'm walking from one part of the festival to the other. Dhruv pops out, still cheerful, with another hello. He also plucked his mother out from thin air for more cheery hellos.

I was standing under a tree at one point with my mother, delicately trying to extract money from her for more books.

"HELLO!" said a cheerful voice.

I have no objections to Dhruv popping up like a jack rabbit and disappearing again. I'm just making an observation. It's important to make observations. This is what this particular observation boils down to: Dhruv is omnipresent, and also omnicheerful.

Anyway, we were leaving for Delhi soon, so I said farewell to my mother. We put our arms around each other and hugged as if we weren't going to meet for another three years, even though I was going to see her three days later. She also gave me some money and told me not to spend all of it on books, but obviously I did. After all, it's not like there was anything else to spend money on.

The car ride back was quiet. We slept a lot, we paused at regular intervals so Mawii could relieve herself. Mawii and Vikram cuddled in the backseat. The weather was nice, the roads were long, yada yada yada.

By six, we were hungry.

"KHANAAAAA!" said Rhea to her driver.

He offered to take us to a motel, but no. For some reason everyone had their sights fixed on a McDonald's just outside Delhi.

So eventually, after an hour, we got to McDonald's.

"I haven't eaten at McDonald's in two years," I said excitedly to Rohin, as the crisp hot smell of fresh french fries wafted its way lazily towards me.

Half an hour later, I remembered why I hadn't eaten at McDonald's in two years.

The food sucks, man.

And I don't hold with this chicken burger nonsense (don't even get me started on their paneer selections). A fast food burger should be beef, but you don't get beef McDonald's in Calcutta, so obviously there is no way to expect it in Delhi, where cows are ranked only second to heavy gold and silver chains.

We dropped Vikram off, and then the Dubeys dropped us to the metro.

In the metro, Mawii kept burping on purpose because she takes delight in being a public embarrassment.

We came home and collapsed, and remained in that sloth-like state for more than twenty four hours. A banal end to an interesting trip.

PS There was an article in the newspaper the next day about the cow that conversed with Fatima Bhutto and Ayesha Jalal. It mentioned that the cow got agitated whenever its calf was taken away from it, but harmony had been restored later along with the calf. Nothing about the talk itself, nor the issues it dealt with. Only in Delhi...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like the photos :)