It is that time of year, meaning the time for the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.
Last year at this time, a great deal of poorly confected tumult, controversy and fake heroism surrounded this signature literary event over whether author Salman Rushdie should be allowed to attend. It was a heady cocktail of individual freedom, religious sensibilities, literary license, corporate sponsorship, possible arrests and authorial defiance.
This year as the festival is about to begin (January 24-28) , there is another round of fresh controversy. It seems unlike last time when some obscure Muslim groups objected to Rushdie’s presence this time some Hindu groups are objecting to Pakistani authors having been invited. Of course, Muslim groups, whose default position is one of having been permanently wronged, have demanded that the authors who read out passages from Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ in defiance last year should not be allowed to attend this year.
I would like to republish two posts from last year related to the event. One is a piece of fiction about a gangster called Ganja Pistoolwaley and the other a set of tips I had for the festival organizers as the event was winding down. I wrote the following on January 27 and January 23 , 2012 respectively.
Some ideas for Jaipur Literature Festival, 2013
Given my unique standing in the world of literature, journalism, security and graphic art I have designed a possible logo for The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), 2013. It is still early days but the one above could make the cut.
I am also suggesting that the organizers lay down the following conditions for participating authors and panelists.
It is mandatory for authors and panelists to carry a/an:
* Reinforced steel helmet
* Bulletproof vest
* Olympic grade running shoes
The order of the conditions above is not random but very carefully thought through. If the first two do not work, try the third, failing which turn to the fourth and, if everything fails, just run. We learned that in the festival that just concluded some authors exercised the last option first which was a bad idea, not to mention an embarrassing one.
The festival authorities should set up a store at the entrance of the venue to sell JLF branded helmets, vests, firearms, running shoes and attorneys. To make the merchandise attractive, the festival should offer early registration discount. The money earned from the sale of the branded merchandise can help minimize the festival’s dependence on corporate sponsors whose balls can be easily twisted by the government.
Additionally, the festival organizers should require a disclosure from all those who are planning to read passages from works banned in India to bring their own handcuffs to save the local police the trouble to bring so many.
This is just the first draft of what can be done. I propose to have a more comprehensive blueprint ready soon. I will not be able to share this for reasons of client confidentiality.
Ganja Pistoolwaley plans a hit
Ganja Pistoolwaley a.k.a. Pistool Ganja nervously pulled his underwear wedged deep inside his buttocks. Unexpected phone calls from his boss Raqeeb Tadipar had that effect on him.
Pistoolwaley stood up whenever Tadipar called. Unlike in the past, with video phones Tadipar would know instantly if his underlings were sufficiently deferential when he called. He didn’t like his men sitting around because he thought that made them slow on the draw.
It was only during extreme emergencies when Tadibhai (as Raqeeb was known) would call himself. The hit Tadibhai was calling Ganja about involved a high profile author.
“Han Tadibhai. Mein khada hai na. Mein to kabhi kidhar baithta hai?” Ganja said with insincere obsequiousness. (Yes, Tadibhai I am standing up. Do I ever sit down?)
“Saaley, yeh video phone hai. Mein dekh sakta hai. Abhi supari ka photu SMS kiyela hai,” Tadibhai said. (This is a video phone. I can see you. I have just SMSed a picture of the hit).
Ganja: “Han bhai mila na. Dekha. Boley to aadmi to chusey hue aam ki mafik lagta hai.” (Got it. The man looks like a shriveled up mango.)
Tadibhai: “To yeh kaun sa chikna hero hai. Sala kitaab likhta rehta hai.” (He is no slick movie star. The bastard writes books).
Ganja: “To likhne do na bhai. Apney ko kya karne ka hai? Apan log kidhar padh sakta hai?” (So let him write.What do we care? We are illiterate anyway.)
Tadipar: “Arey who sab mereku mat sikha. Aaj kal teri zabaan pistul se zyada chalti hai) (Don’t teach me all that. These days you talk more than your pistol.)
Sensing Tadibhai’s irritation, Ganja immediately corrected himself. “Tadibhai, mein to aise hi gammat kiya. Aap ne bola aur sala writer dola.” (Tadibhai, I am kidding. You say the word and the writer is gone).
Tadibhai: “Arey Pistool teri ma ki usko dolane ka nahi hai rey. Woh video pe aa ke kuch bhashan dene wala hai. Uska bhashan rokna hai.” (Hey Pistool, he is not to be bumped off. He is giving a video speech. That speech should not happen.)
Ganja: “Boley to zinda rakhne ka par acting nahi karne ka” (That means he may live but not act)
Tadibhai: “Ab ghusi baat tere bheje mein goli ka tarha. Yeh hona mangta hai.” (Now sense has entered your brain like a bullet. This needs to happen)
Tadibhai’s menacing face went off Ganja’s phone. Ganja placed a call, also a video call, to his trusted tech support Chandu Ghaslet.
Chandu stood up as he answered the call. “Han Pistoolbhai. Mujhe kyun yaad kiya?) (Yes Pistool, how come you remembered me?)
Ganja: “Yeh address likh. Idhar kal ek video bhashan hai. Who bandh kara.” (Take this address. There is a video speech scheduled there tomorrow. Stop it.)
Chandu Ghaslet, who hardly ever figured in any of the exciting hits that his gang carried out, was thrilled to have been called. Naturally, he felt he needed to make this his best job.
Ghaslet: “Video bhashan matlab bandwidth bada zyada hoga. Mein 30 mein se 15 frame drop kara dunga. Sala breakdance ke jaisa lagega woh writer.” (Video speech means high bandwidth. I can drop 15 of the 30 frames. He would be so jerky he would look like a breakdancer).
Ganja: “Ey Ghaslet, baat sun le. Band wand kuchch nahi. Udhar ja, do kan ke neeche baja aur cable kaat dal.” (Hey Ghaslet, listen to me. Forget bandwidth. Go there, thrash a couple of them and cut the cable).
So now we wait to see what happens.
Note: Excuse the inordinate use of the Mumbai street lingo. I had no choice because that’s how these tough guys talk.