Monday, February 4, 2013

My experience at Jaipur Literature Festival 2013

The first time I heard about the Jaipur Lit Fest was during my years on the IIM Ahmedabad campus, when a few friends decided to attend. Due to personal commitments at those times, I could not attend but when the 2013 version came and I was at Gurgaon, I decided to attend it on Republic Day. So when the nation was celebrating(or rather indifferent to!) Republic day, me and many other literature lovers were enjoying the various sessions on offer. So without much ado, I recount my experience and some tips for getting the most out of the fest
  1. The venue(Hotel Diggi Palace) is very close to SMS Hospital(which all autos/buses know). So rather than spend on a cab and pollute the environment/lighten your wallet, consider taking a city bus or a share auto. That should just cost you Rs 10 each way. 
  2. There is no restriction on taking food/drinks inside the venue. Considering that items are slightly on the upper side, consider taking basic snacks/munchies with you, or have a good breakfast(the awesome poha/parathas/dal bhati) outside and then attend
  3. Registration is free(basic version) or paid(this year Rs 2500 where you get hamper from sponsor, free food and attending the music concert). Even valuing the free food at Rs 600, concert at Rs 400, that means you pay Rs 1500 for the hamper and the pleasure of being a patron of the litfest. Considering you get no other privileges like preferred seating, thats your choice. The name tag for paid registrations has your name, which might help for those of you focussed on networking.Make sure to pre register else if crowds too much, they may close the spot registration.
  4. The souvenir booklet(this year Rs 100) containing bios and detailed description of talk outline, is totally worth it. Otherwise, you spend lots of time Googling the authors to guess what they may be speaking about and stuff like that
  5. Its better to go as a group not only due to the carnival atmosphere, but also to ensure you get seating even when return from lunch/snack breaks. Here, like in any other Indian ethos, the concept of blocking seats exists. While I protested and got my way, you may not be thickskinned enough to do it when alone. So keep that in mind
  6. This year, the bookshop sold books by all attending authors. So if you want to make the author happy(but don't want to/have time to, order online), purchase a book at the litfest and Queue up for the post talk signing. 
  7. The sessions are usually 2+ authors(generally 3-4), literary critics, journalists or other renowned literature personalities, with a moderator. The format is a panel discussion like what you see on TV, except that its better moderated, and has (usually) better quality audience questions. So if you are expected deep insights, forget it, but if you are ok with many short insights from various people, you are at the right place. 
Overall, it was not arty/elitist, and a pleasure to attend. But if you don;t like the program topic, better find an alternate else it may get very boring