Jaipur Literature Festival-I

Things you should know about Diggi Palace (the festival venue):

1. It has an official palace cat. And an unofficial one that has a bell round its neck. It was apparently the unofficial one who dropped by Amit Chaudhuri’s morning session, looked up at the moderator–Anita Roy–fell in love with her at first sight, and sprayed the back of her chair as a sign of its devotion while meowing ecstatically. Cat was deeply interested in what Amit had to say about Arun Kolatkar’s Jejuri (more on that later), but left when he refused to sing for the audience.

2. Do not use the tiny, tiny loos near the deck chairs (do, however, use the deck chairs, they’re fun), unless you’re a woman who likes hassling the men by going into the loo marked MALE in fierce letters. Use the barn-sized loo outside the auditorium where you can see the dim figures of audience and speakers through the stained glass. It has beautiful acoustics: you can hear them, but they can’t hear you.

3. The rooms are actually quite nice, despite the author who said in slightly despairing tones:

“My room is full of old-world charm.”

We looked at him questioningly.

“I prefer new-world convenience.”

4. The man who sells cigarettes, matches and other essentials of life (right opposite the teeny-tiny loo) is also a miniaturist–who in Jaipur isn’t?–and will sell you cards and/ or paintings on a grain of rice if you ask nicely.

5. Speaking of old-world charm, Diggi Palace is awash in the stuff. The only place in Jaipur’s we-have-a-haveli-and-a-niwas-on-every-street environs that can compete is the wonderfully named Tomato Palace–I have no idea what it looks like, but who wants to stay at the Rambagh or Loharu House when you can say, “Me? I’m at Tomato Palace. Come and we’ll ketchup on the gossip.”

6. But the Diggi Palace has an unbeatable ace up its sleeve: horses, and rather lovely ones at that, stabled close to the lawns. “Ooh, how romantic,” said one lady, but that was before the wind shifted and perfumed our lunch with strong gusts of equine sweat.





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