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Day 2 at the Jaipur Lit Fest: Fever, honour and the loo!

By Suparn Verma and Abhishek Mande
Last updated on: January 23, 2011 15:12 IST
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Writer-Director Suparn Verma and correspondent Abhishek Mande are attending the Jaipur Literary Festival, the leading literary event in the Asia Pacific. After their enthralling experiences on Day 1, Suparn didn't have a good Day 2; although Abhishek cuckooed all through the day. This is what he has to say:

Sometime around five this morning, I heard Suparn moaning. Now sleeping in the same bed as him is one thing but hearing the chap moan is completely another. So as I turned around a little skeptically, I saw the chap sitting up... all wrapped up.

Suparn was running fever.

Of course, like all men I know, Suparn likes to show off how brave he is, so when he asked me to go back to sleep, I promptly followed his instructions.

Later, after stuffing a Crocin down his throat and dealing with the super-inefficient staff at our hotel, I packed off.

'Junot Diaz isn't related to Cameron Diaz'

After all there was a Pulitzer-prize winning author waiting for me!

Also Read: Day 1 at the Jaipur Literature Festival: 'Ruskin Bond is James Bond's uncle'

Junot Diaz had actually responded to my email earlier in the day confirming a chat with our readers and a video interview.

A mighty kicked Suparn jumped out of the bed and joined me later for the interview and the chat promising to get back soon after it was over.

If you haven't read about Junot in our Friday's diary, you should. The guy is an absolute delight to speak with and was relieved to know that we wouldn't be speaking about his books.

It turns out that Junot Diaz isn't related to Cameron Diaz, did marijuana to get over his writer's block unsuccessfully and pretended that his mother was seriously ill when he wanted to get out of a boring date.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's session was a hit

As for the festival itself, it was a slightly slow day. Some of the discussions, though showing promise, didn't turn out as exciting.

The session title 'Imaginary Homelands' seemed to me like a bit of an exercise in futility -- the concept itself is the name of a collection of Salman Rusdhie's non fiction writings that was released in 1992.

In fact the moderator Chandrahas Choudhury also pointed out that the concept of a split identity in today's world is more a given than an exception.

Kamila Shamsie though made a very interesting point as she recollected her childhood days when 'all the books I read were set in places that were NOT Karachi' and in that sense, all those places became her 'imaginary homelands'.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's jam packed session was a hit as she read out from her latest novel -- One Amazing Thing. Sadly I couldn't catch most of the session, though I must confess, she reads out pretty damn well.

Om Puri and his kullad wali chai

It would be lovely to know what on earth is happening between Nandita and Om Puri. One day we read in the papers that they're splitting and the other day they've made up!

Either way, the couple was at the Jaipur fest to launch Nandita's book Two Worlds. They made for a pretty picture and Om was his gracious self mingling with the commoners, having some kullad wali chai and even posing with the fellow serving it.

Javed Akhtar tears through audience questions

Talking of films, Bollywood stole the show at Day 2 of the Jaipur Literature Festival. Eminent lyricists Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi and Gulzar were stars of the show as the three spoke about the songs that moved them.

On public demand the three had to put up a repeat appearance and only take audience questions on topics as varied as 'What was it like writing your first song?' to 'Why do we see such poor cinema coming out of Bollywood today?'

Akhtar took centrestage and pretty much tore through most of the audience questions.

He suggested that the standards of Bollywood had fallen primarily because of poor audience tastes.

The excitement in the air was palpable as some of the locals literally clamoured over each other to get Javed and Gulzar saab's autograph earlier in the day and Om's in the evening. Fashion or literature, it seems is always incomplete without a touch of Bollywood.

Honour for H M Naqvi

The big event of the day though was the giving away of the DSC South Asian award for the book that best represents South Asia.

In a somewhat gaudy and a back-breakingly long ceremony, it was announced that the prize would go to HM Naqvi for his book Home Boy.

Naqvi who is known to have lived on a 'two-dollar budget' at some point, surely seemed to be the most deserving candidate.

The author walked home with $50,000.

Orhan Pamuk's 'agonising wait'

Away from all the action Orhan Pamuk stood in one corner. He leaned on a pillar and tried looking disinterestedly at a man who was trying hard to make a conversation with the Nobel laureate.

Pamuk fiddled with a book, flipped a few pages, obviously being unable to concentrate.

The author was in queue to visit the loo.

After a few agonisingly long minutes, the loo door flung open and the man before him happily walked in.

Pamuk continued to wait. He strolled a bit and went back to resting against the pillar.

The doors opened again.

"Thank you", Pamuk mumbled in his trademark curt manner, "For not taking long."

Hope Suparn lives up to his threat

As strains of pop music float from the background, I call it a day. Suparn has threatened to join me later. I hope he lives up to his threat. There's nothing worse than seeing the guy sick.

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Suparn Verma and Abhishek Mande in Jaipur