22/01/2016 12:06 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

With Minor Intrigues, Jaipur Literature Festival Is Off To A Sunny, Promising Start

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
JAIPUR, INDIA - JANUARY 21: Visitors attend the session The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon: Celebrating Alexander McCall Smith on first day of Jaipur literary festival 2016, on January 21, 2016 in Jaipur, India. Ninth edition of ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is set to witness over 360 participants from the fields of literature, history, politics, economy, art and culture debate and discuss on one platform during the course of the next five days. (Photo by Himanshu Vyas/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

On day one of the festival, the major drama stayed disappointingly absent. Minor drama, however, had full play.

Done With Diggi?

Day One began surprisingly sunny, belying the foggy road that led there from Delhi even as late as 9 am. The biggest question for the past few days has been: will the festival continue at Diggi Palace, its original venue? That might have been great even a few years ago, but with the crowds growing exponentially with every year of the festival, it seems like it's time to put it out to pasture. The Rajasthan High Court admitted a PIL seeking to shift the venue 2 days before the festival and a DCP officer was rumoured to have been transferred after he denied permission for the venue to host the JLF this year.

Festival Director Sanjoy Roy rushes to venue between sessions on first day of Jaipur literary festival 2016

Despite that, there was a go ahead after all, but Sanjoy Roy, one of the festival co-organisers mentioned in his opening speech that they were actively looking for somewhere new to host.

Good luck--combining the style and history of Diggi with sufficient infrastructure, capacity and charm, will be tough. That said, phone data speeds can only improve.

How To Spot A Star

Convenient colour coding already done for you by the organisers! The speakers wear a name tag with a red band, the press wears green, the delegates (paid, sponsors etc) wear blue and the masses wear a white skinny rope.

Rajasthani dancers performs during the inauguration of JLF 2016 at Diggi Palace grounds on January 21

Bollywood Not-So-Secret Special Guest

Actor Kajol will be launching author Ashwin Sanghi's new book The Sialkot Saga on day three of the festival. Bonus points if you spot her and Karan Johar hanging about after.

The Gift Bags

In case you're curious about the contents of the delegates gift bags (I know I always am), here's what they got: BBC's History magazine, a Bloomsbury publishers diary, a bathroom kit bag containing one Dove shampoo, a set of Bombay postcards featuring poignant but pixellated images of the city, a box of chai masala and a bottle of hand sanitiser.

Pressing The Question

The organisers manning the press desk have had to deal with loads of “can I be press even if I haven't pre-registered yet?” questions. Best of all was when a man came up to them, said, “Do you know who I am?” and threatened to make one of the women's names “go viral” if she didn't let him in. No word on virality yet.

Everyone Hates Air Travel

Booker winner Marlon James looked calm and unruffled, but his trip to the city was very bumpy as his Facebook rant suggests. “Dude I just want to board my fucking flight. Oh it's delayed, you say? Nice first impression, India.”

Canadian novelist poet, novelist and critic and guest of honour of JFL Margaret Atwood after delivering keynote address

Notable quotables

“The reader is the musician of the book.” - Margaret Atwood in her keynote address.

“I sense an awakening in our women, saying: enough.” - Shobhaa De in a session on modernity.

“In order to tell a good story, you have to manipulate.” - Ruskin Bond talking about scenes from a writer's life.

“I know there are lovely white people who are watching Making A Murderer and are going, “Oh, the system is broken.” And I was like, “Oh really? Tell me more.” - Marlon James on racism.

“To be a novelist is to be a noticer.” Colm Toibin on writing.

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