Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

I'll be grateful if you...

Feb 21, 2013

UP, CLOSE & PERSONAL: Hindu Lit For Life Day 1

I have been waiting for this Hindu Lit for life for a long time and it was worth the wait... though compared to last year, as a friend said, “the buzz this year was subdued, probably Hindu lost the interest on the way...”. Any how it was great to meet amazing writers, poets and creative geniuses and hope catch some of their qualities through interactions.
In various moods... Mehrotra, Benyamin, Ferreira and Devdutt Pattanaik

It was a real pleasure to interact with one of the stalwarts of Hindi heart land who as introduction notes, lives in two of my most favourite places – Allahabad and Dehradun; Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. A great poet, translator, editor and essayist who apart from publishing four books of poetry has also translated my favourite Sufi poet Kabir. As he told me in our discussions, that the beauty of words lies mostly in the way they are perceived by the reader. Sadly, the landmark – the book partner did not have any books by him at the festival as most of them were out of stock.

It was a pleasure to interact with a great poet - Arvind Krishna Mehrorta

The session, after the usual inauguration, introduction and settling down opened to an era that most of us have not known and to a style most of the GenNext don’t cater to... Reading of correspondence, through snail mail as it’s called now, between Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari (compiled by Gopal Krishna Gandhi ) and wonderfully played by Rahul Bose reading as Mahatma and Yog Japee (The founder of Chennai based theatre company – Theatre Y) reading as C R. Both of the powerful performers brought out, through reading their letters, the surreal and eclectic mix of banter between two great personalities and friends and sometimes as the role reversal as mentor to each other as Raja Ji writes to Gandhi in one of his letters “Come Back... (from Sarla?)”

Yog Japee and Rahul Bose reading Mahatma Gandhi's and
C Rajagopalachari's letters

The day later flowered into one of the most beautiful session on poetry... “The Power of Poetry” represented by the diverse styles of the excellent panellists – Meena Kandasami, Jeet Thayil and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. Apart from the readings, it was a pleasure to hear their answers to the question from the audience... e.g. Jeet Thayil answered to a question on why no other Indian poet has won Nobel prize in poetry, after Tagore, “The question is so profound that it cannot be answered” Mehrotra answered to a query by audience, about the current standing of Indian poets internationally, “It’s an Indian disease to know that”. Well I leave you to hear their poetry as I have uploaded their videos at the YouTube....

The day moved on to some serious discussions about the place of women in India, which came into focus more powerfully as one of the panellist said, “after The Delhi Incident” with Kalpana Kannabiran and Rahul Bose. Hearing Rahul Bose sensible thoughts on the subject was an eye opener for me. At one point he said that we should build a community of carers and as individual, one should pick one single person in the public space and promise to oneself,  that I will not allow to let any one harm that person. If this as a public we will do, in general, most of the women will be safe.

Moving on to one very interesting topic of the day, which I was personally looking forward to “Graphically Speaking” with Amruta Patil, Samit Basu and Appupen. Enjoyed the session thoroughly and Samit Basu’s “Latex Latha” brought cheers from the crowd.

Amruta Patil and Samit Basu in conversation

The day ended with an interesting discussion on the sports writing with Michael Ferreira – 4 times Billiards world champion as he said, “I love cricket, but I detest what Cricket has done to other sports in the country”

Finally leaving you all with some images and interesting quotes from the Festival...

Looking for audience and while Rocky Singh  (Of Highway
on my Plate fame) and another questions...

“One writes to silence the voices in your head or else they will take you to different places”
“We should move beyond stereotypes, focus more on authenticity” - Farah Ghuznavi, Bangladeshi writer

Farah Ghuznavi and Ashok Ferrey

“Disaster is a great leveller” - Ashok Ferrey

“Idea of “rebirth” emerged in India 1000's of years before”
“Yale university was founded by the money made by East India company by exploiting farmers of Chennai" - Devdutt Patnaik

“All writings start in alchemy... Every word I put out, I kill 500” – Jerry Pinto

The Chennai Blogger's Gang got together too...

“All of us secretly want our books to get banned. Because then people will know you exist” – Samit Basu


नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Hindu Lit Festival 2011


  1. Learn something new everyday and this morning I did. Great article..interesting and engaging.

  2. Shashi

    What a great post, thanks for info and the photos. You obviously enjoyed yourself.

    This is my favourite quote from your blog:

    “All of us secretly want our books to get banned. Because then people will know you exist” – Samit Basu


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