The colourful little puppets are back. The graffiti-laden autos carrying Rajasthani art are back. JLF is back The kumbh mela of literary festivals, the greatest literary show on earth, as it is fondly called, Jaipur Literature Festival will be back with its 2018 edition from January 25 to January 29 at the iconic Diggi Palace in Jaipur. Like every year, the festival strives to showcase a range of voices from India and abroad by bringing together a diverse mix of writers, journalists, politicians, business leaders, and entertainers.
Packing bags for JLF? Here is what to expect and look out for:
1. The exhaustive line of speakers
Shashi Tharoor. Source: HuffPost
Over 250 speakers from around the world will gather at the festival to talk about history and politics, art and music, fiction and poetry, economics and what not. A regular at the festival, there is Shashi Tharoor who would discuss colonialism and its after-effects, among other things. [Pro-tip: Reach early to find a spot if you wish to attend his jam-packed sessions.] Then we have widely-popular Amy Tan expected to take on identity and representation issues. Here is another treat. Man Booker Prize-winning Michael Ondaatje is making his second appearance at the festival. Any The English Patient fans here? Also, look out for Sujatha Gidla for her brilliant book on being a Dalit in India, Ant Among Elephants.
By the way, Instagram sensation Rupi Kaur would be there too, in case you gush over her little poetic social friendly-pieces. There are people who don’t consider her a poet at all, and I have received so much heartbreak from very serious poets who ask why she has been chosen. But when you study her, you’ll realise she is very intriguing, and I quite respect her work. She appeals to a large number of people, the festival organiser Namita Gokhale explained. Oh, and Helen Fielding is coming too. Listening, all you The Bridget Joness Diary-lovers? Talking of the cinema, Mira Nair, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardawaj would be there too.
And here comes the icing on the top - Neil Gaiman could make an appearance at the festival. On the attendees wishlist for years, Gaiman though has not been mentioned in the list of the speakers but going by the last years announcement at the festival, the American Gods writer could be speaking at the festival. You never know
2. The journalist who interviewed Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden. Source: Associated Press
He is the first journalist to have got access to Osama Bin Ladens Abbottabad compound. The author of Manhunt, one of the few people to have interviewed the once worlds most dreaded terrorist, Peter Bergen would be at JLF this year, in conversation with Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clerk, the authors of The Exile, a landmark work of investigation and reportage on the Islamic world.
Other prolific journalists to look out for at the festival include Pulitzer-winning Portuguese-American journalist Michael Rezendes, and In Undercover in North Korea: Facts and Fictions writer Suki Kim in conversation with Michael Breen. While Rezendes exposed the molestation of over 100 children by senior church officials in Catholic Church, Kim would be talking about her encounters in the worlds most secretive country North Korea.
3. Music and Poetry
Javed Akhtar. Source: Press Trust of India
And when you are done with a day full of intellectual, literary activity, unwind with some soulful music at the festival. An intrinsic part of JLF, the musical events are presented by artists from around the world. We have extended the music stage timings and we’re going to have a lot of conversations about music, such as the session with Zakir Hussain and the one on the Beatles, said Sanjoy Roy, the the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, who organises the JLF.
We hear that the artists list this time also contains Afro Celt Sound System. The quartet blends traditional Irish and west African music for its listeners. Also, head to Music Stage at Hotel Clarks Amer for a reunion of the legendary Bengali musician Praban Das Baul and British musician Sam Mills. Other artists to perform at Music Stage include Kailash Kher (8:45 PM on 25th January), David Grey (7:30 PM on 27th January), Jaisalmer Boys (7:00 PM on 26th January), and Trippy Sama & Barmer Boys (7:30 PM on 25th January).
Cant make it to Music Stage? Revel in the beauty of slightly cold morning breeze with the Morning Music sessions at the palace. The artists include Meeta Pandit, Azeem Ahmed Alvi, Bindhu Malini and Vednath.
Poetry-lovers, Javed Akhtar would be there, as usual. Along with Shabana Azmi, he would be found in conversation with Rakshanda Jalil. Mentioning Jan Nisar and Kaifi, the organisers say- expect a spirited poetry session. Vishal Bharadwaj would be in conversation with Sukrita Paul Kumar to discuss Nude: The Poet Within. Look out for a Rajasthani language session Rajasthali: Dharti Ri Koonkh with Bulaki Sharma, Abhimanyu Singh Arha and Reena Menaria in conversation with Arvind Singh Aashiya.
4. Puppet-sellers and graffiti autos
In a hurry to reach the halls and see your favourite literary stars, do not overlook the colourful auto rickshaws and puppet-sellers at the entrance of the palace. The sellers have little artifacts, puppets, umbrellas on offer to help you add some vibrant Rajasthani hues to your house. The autos have beautiful graffiti representing Rajasthani art painted all over them. Add some perk to you Instagram with pictures of Rajathani turbans, moustaches, and dance forms.
5. Discounted books and more
Indulge in a little loot and plunder and give yourself that liberty to go on a massive book-buying spree. Festival regulars need not be told about the delight called the JLFs book shop corner. First-timers, you might find pieces encompassing literature of your hometown to international bestselling titles. Take some time out to grab some of these beauties at great prices.
Stationery-lovers, you may have a truly difficult time resisting the sinfully-tempting pieces on offer at the stalls. There are clothes, jewellery, shoes, and bags too. From indigo-printed juttis to embroidered, tied-and-dyed saris… un-miss-able is the term, if you ask us.
As if those red velvet pastries, pizza slices, and chocolates at the festival premises werent enough The area around the Diggi Palace brims with joints offering mouth-watering food of Rajasthan. Head to Bapu Bazaar, only about 15 minutes away from the palace, for eggy delights at Sanjays Omelette . We have heard good things about Handi on MI Road serving keemas and kebabs; Rawat Mishthan Bhandar around Sindhi Circle serving delectable kachoris, and Shreenath Lassiwala serving malai lassi. Other not-to-miss local scrumptious delicacies include daal bati churma, ghevar, gatte ki sabzi, and gajak.
And when the night falls, head to the extremely popular Chokhi Dhani to taste Rajathani hospitality and flavours.
When: January 25-29
Where: Diggi Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Weather: Expect colder nights and mornings with the minimum temperature dropping below 10 degrees Celsius and warm afternoons with the mercury reaching to 26 degrees Celsius. Pro-tip: Carry a jacket to keep you comfortable during the afternoon as well as late-evening sessions.
Distance from major cities:
Delhi to Jaipur- 292.9 km via NH48 and NH48
Udaipur to Jaipur- 393.5 km via NH58
Agra to Jaipur- 238.5 km via Bikaner – Agra Road
Chandigarh to Jaipur- 528.4 km via NH 44
Jaisalmer to Jaipur- 558.0 km via NH11, RJ SH 19 and Jaipur – Jobner – Kuchaman – Nagaur Road
Distance from Diggi Palace: 11.8 km via Amer Road
How to reach: Public transport is easily available. Take an auto or hire a car. It would take a little over a half an hour to reach the palace, depending on the traffic.
Pro-tip: Take advantage of the resorts location and sneak in some time for a visit to the magnificent Amer Fort.
(Header image courtesy: Jaipur Literature Festival)