My 2nd Day At The 9th Tata Lit Fest

By Sunil Kumar


Hello world, wordpress universe and my blog! Lest I forget and the globe soaks in my wisdom, here are my recollections set in digital stone. May the ephemeral winds of server pings keep them safe.

Was in Bengaluru and Mysuru a few days back and memories have a tendency to fade away. So this is about 17 Nov at St.Paul’s Bandra- 3rd day for the lit fest but 2nd precious day apportioned from my time to listen to some insights and pompous prigs for the rest of the time.

First time at this media institute. I walk in with some apprehension and make my way upstairs and then down again noticing the bookshop on the ground floor. At 10.30, Stephen Daldry- the creator of the Crown is in conversation with a funny Craig Brown, a journalist and author of a book on Princess Margaret, the debauched, wanton sister of a more prudish Queen Elizabeth.

My questions to the pair range from one on Winston Churchill and his seating arrangements with Elizabeth’s father the previous King George and with her. Did he actually eat lunches together and did he advise the Queen that the PM always stood in her presence. The second one was on whether the Crown would be a Spanish soap opera if Henry VIII had not broken away from the Catholic Church. Daldry replied that Winston Churchill indeed had different dining arrangements with the King and his daughter Elizabeth II. Also, it would be interesting to speculate on what would have happened if England had not broken away from Rome and established its own Anglican setup. In some ways, the death of Diana did bring about melodrama, colour and a Mexican Day of the Dead in England.

After some frivolous conversations and interaction, a session on translation was also some more inspiration for my gray cells. Helmed by Taseer Aatish, participants included Robert Dessaix, Vanamala Vishwanatha and Hoskote Ranjit.

‘Word to Word’; the name of this mutual admiration talkfest was enlightening and interesting in some ways before Hoskote dampened the discussion by his blatant assault on the ruling dispensation. When India is faced with barbarians at many gates and pretentious asses on the inside, the conversation could have been steered away from such wanton foolishness. Nevertheless, Taseer raised some interesting points on high languages like Sanskrit, Dessaix inadvertently brought in a touch of humour and Vanamala’s accounts of medieval literature along with some singing were slightly invigorating.

My questions to this panel were- do you make it Netflix like- violence, sleaze, spice to make it more interesting and when you encounter some difficult, archaic word that you don’t understand(Vanamala mentioned the disuse of old Kannada), how do you overcome the same?

Dessaix told me that humor was not an objective, but a living, spirited translation was what he was aiming at. Vanamala on the other hand told me that she learnt at the feet of some renowned scholars.

Post-lunch, I listened to an initially droning bore of a lecture by Ferdinand Mount; former head of No 10 Downing Street(British PM) policy unit. In a small dingy basement, his interminable ridiculous lecture became interesting only after some pointed questions by me and other people. Some pretentious ass asked him a few questions on Fitzgerald, Rand etc and some good ones on writing guides. To be fair, he gave some good suggestions to the end.

I caught some part of the end of the session: History or Fiction- which tells a truer tale with Sanjeev Sanyal(met before at some JAIPUR LIT FEST(jlf), Ashok Ferrey, Sebastian Faulks and chaired by Robert Winder, who held the workshop I had attended 2 days earlier.

Attracted by his pleasant interaction and quaint Englishness, I had ordered a copy of one of his books- ‘The Final Act of Mr. Shakespeare.’ To end the day on a good note, Robert Winder signed my Tata Lit Fest brochure with an ‘All Best Wishes’ greeting. Attending some part of a workshop by some waify Brit witch-like woman writer, I had to rush home for another event.

In all, the day was interesting. Life is a meandering road, so let’s see what the future and this blog holds.




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