The Hyderabad Literary Festival 2018

Credits: facebook.com

Even as India was celebrating its glorious 69th Republic Day on 26Jan2018, Hyderabad had opened its doors to welcome book lovers, writers, authors and journalists across countries to the prestigious Hyderabad Literary Festival 2018, which was to be a three day affair. 

I was super excited about these developments which I had learnt about by chance just a week prior due to some advertisement that caught my eye. I had to go, considering the fact that I had never been to one and somehow, I had begun to believe, I’d be a lesser writer if I didn’t. Notwithstanding the fact that I had never had an opportunity before or that I was so caught up in my day to day existence, I would read about it and somewhere make myself believe, I’d never reach that league of intellectuals!

And so when something as lucrative as this came right before my eyes, at the right time, I took it as a sign. I made the decision to attend. This was the easy part! Then came all those obstacles in my head- my son had extra classes, my daughter couldn’t be left alone, my husband was working and how would I go on my own? The last hitch was the major hitch though I was trying to emphasize on every other reason. Shortly after, I get a call from a senior, a mentor in fact, during my days in the IAF. He informed me that he would be arriving at Hyderabad as his book was being featured in the Lit. Fest. He would like me to attend his talk. This was on the 27th; two days prior to my 44th birthday! I said I’d try my best.

I pondered for quite a while. I get another call; this time from a dear friend and course mate who I had last met twenty years ago. She called and said that she was going to attend the talk and would I want to be picked up from home, that way we’d finally get to meet, something that we had been procrastinating for some time! It couldn’t get better than this!!! And I declined. There are times when I really don’t understand myself and this was one such occasion. My husband looked at me with that “Oh here she goes again” expression but checked his tongue. He has learnt to respect my hormones and has made peace with his tigress. “I could take you on the 26th but I will be working on 27th and 28th despite it being a weekend. Let’s all go. You’ll at least get to see a Lit. Fest. You’ve been so excited. Yet, if you went with your friend you’d have a great time and you wouldn’t have to worry being out of place but if you go alone, you are your own master”, he said. Believe me, this quiet man has learnt the ropes and he controls me like a puppet making me believe that I am taking all my decisions- mastermind. The final push I got from another friend through a text message!!!

Credits: facebook.com
I made a call to my mother and asked her to take care of my kids. She is such a sport. She’d do anything to see me go out and mingle a bit more- but not without her set of instructions. “If you are taking an Ola Cab…(Eeshwara! There is a molestation case every day in the papers; these Ola cab drivers, they will take you through different routes…)” I am taken back to my college days when I had to make a solemn promise not to enter an auto rickshaw unless I looked into the drivers eyes to see that they were not red- a check that he wasn’t drunk or on drugs. I used to say he’ll get other ideas if I look into his eyes and she used to roll her own irritated that I was so dumb.

Anyway, the day arrived and I decided to leave an hour earlier because I wanted to attend a panel discussion “Writing from the Gut, Busting Stereotypes and rekindling the Oral Tradition: A Panorama of Children and Young Adult Writing from Spain”. The Ola Cab was booked a day prior and he reached on time. I like a good girl, checked the door to see that the child lock was open and dutifully sat behind the driver to strangle him if the need arose!! As I gave him the pin number I called home and told my mother in Hindi for him to understand that his details had been passed on so he dared not mess with me and then we set course and I made him follow my route and not his GPS. My mother called after 15 minutes to let the driver know that he was being tracked!!! Despite all this, the poor decent soul dropped me well before time to the grounds of the Hyderabad Public School.


After another call home, to say that I was safe and now putting the phone on silent, I walked, taking large determined strides to the venue. It was a nice walk and the event was organized well and far away from the main school building. The welcome team of youngsters sat behind a line of five tables asking for people to register. I had done so online so they handed over a pamphlet, more like a mini newspaper and the detailed schedule. I hate to tell you this that I have both those items in front of me as I type, in case I need to refer to something, and I just found out that there was a detailed map on it too. I wish I had known then. Anyway, I had studied the venues the night prior and so I asked the volunteers where the two sites were located and thankfully both were visible and nearby.

Credits: magicpin.in
I marched with my head held high (my mother does often complain that I walk as though I own the place!!) and shortly reached the Telangana Tourism Pavillion to attend the panel discussion. I was early so I stood outside while two hoity-toity, seemingly friendly but not so, ladies were standing and discussing something very deep, by the looks of it. They looked like a part of the organizing team but I decided not to trouble them. I walked around a book stall but I wasn’t keen on it just yet. I went back to the Pavillion and spotted my senior inside busy writing something. He wasn’t looking up so I couldn’t catch his eye. One of the ladies looked in my direction so I smiled and asked if I could go in while the talk was on. She nodded with a look that made me feel every bit like the novice that I was. Once in, I took a furtive glance at the stage before heading to my senior. He was happy to see me as was I. He introduced me a Lady Police Officer who was launching her book and was to share the stage with him later on. I settled down beside him. We spoke in hushed whispers but managed to get a dirty look from a woman two rows ahead so we went silent after that.


Seema Mustafa, a well known journalist was talking about being a secular Muslim in India, it being the theme of her own memoir. Very articulate, she handled her questions well and her answers were well thought out but her moderator and the audience who questioned her were a huge disappointment. Anyway, she did not stick to her time and the Spanish panelists waited patiently while she ate into nearly ten minutes of their time. I moved forward while eighty percent of the audience left. My senior also left to prepare for his talk and I promised to be in time for it.

The four panelists and moderator quickly settled down and began. The moderator had her questions which she asked and each writer gave his/her opinion. They struggled with their English but they pressed on bravely and they had different insights to give. Two writers particularly had very interesting views on children‘s literature but everyone pitched in. They had less time thanks to the previous speaker so they were asked to hurry up over and over again and were allowed to take only two questions from the audience and I was happy, for that meant I could interact with them after the talk for five minutes before heading to Karvy Canopy for event number two. Alas, a third question sprung up by a persistent person in the audience and I had to leave half way through the answer and walk as fast as I could.

Credits: facebook.com
Credits: ragalahari.com
I made it just in time as the speakers and moderator were settling down on stage. I was about to move into a row when a photographer came in between and started clicking away to glory and my eyes fell on the beautiful Sanjana Kapoor, daughter of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendall Kapoor. Clad in black linen saree with a dull gold border, simple and devoid of makeup, save for kohl in her eyes, she was graceful and had a quiet confidence about her without any ostentatiousness. I sat two rows in front of her away from the camera and all those hounding her. I was to learn a few moments later that she had been invited to launch the book of the Police Officer whom I had been introduced to before. I did speak to her for a couple of minutes later on.



Well, the stage was set and after the launch of the book, the two authors began giving a brief introduction of their book. I had already read the poignant and yet inspiring book by my senior, Air Commodore Nitin Sathe, titled “Born to Fly” which is a real life story of his coursemate Flying Officer MP Anil Kumar, a young MiG21 pilot who, at the age of 24, met with a freak accident while on a bike to find himself a paraplegic for the rest of his life. He lived on for another 26 years acquiring the skill of using his mouth and has inspired and continues to inspire thousands of people. The second book was called “Half Life” and was a compilation of short stories of women in war/conflict ridden areas. The writers waxed eloquent and took on questions from the moderator and the audience with aplomb, the lady being a little too aggressive for my liking. Every answer was like a debate where she had to win and they were very bookish. At the cost of sounding biased, I was in favour of my senior for his mature and witty answers which made sense and were pertinent and relevant as opposed to what “sounded correct”.

I did realize something after hearing and watching a few intellectuals speak (and even those we watch on television often) that while they were/are all immaculate in their expression and while their words just flow effortlessly, and their knowledge unquestionable, somewhere (and I am not saying all but quite a few) something rings fake or superficial. Somewhere when you like the sound of your own voice more than the point you are trying to make you fail to connect. It reminds me of the time when I had to read my lessons aloud and I would imitate news readers and concentrate on my accent and pronunciation and at the end of it I would hear my father say, “Okay, now read it again to understand what you read”.

It is a fact that knowledgeable/erudite people are the least humble even when they pretend to be! Though I believe Osho rightly says, “Where knowledge ends, wisdom begins”.
Credits: telanganatoday.com

Anyhow, the talk was over and I got to meet my dear friends and we couldn’t stop gushing over one another and after a quick round of refreshments and promises to meet again, I left. As I was walking towards my next cab (yes, I did the cab ritual on the way back too), I knew I hadn’t had enough of the experience and I wanted to spend the whole day there. There were so many events, exhibitions and workshops organized; it seemed that I had just brushed past the event! At least, it was a start!

For all those who are in two minds about anything they really want to do, follow “Nike” and Just do It. I am saying this knowing very well that I will still need coaxing to get out of my comfort zone the next time around but the chances that I’ll do it are much higher.


Credits: ask.fm




                                    

Comments

  1. Like they say... There's always a first time for everything and the next time around.. all you have to do is JUST DO IT again ;)

    Never ever been for a lit fest... Your writing makes me want to go for one!!!! :)

    Hopefully.. One day.. some day...!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that's a compliment...go for one and prove it :) And you do know that it was you who gave me that final push to go!!

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    2. Well aware that the last in line was me! Sometimes.. all one needs.. is that one last push :) Glad to have been one of the pushers!!! ;)☺️

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  2. Do this more often Anu. Pick up your bag and take a walk...on your own.
    Enjoy...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow!! What a treat!! Glad you went for it and enjoyed... I wish and hope to see you in such lit fest in future as an author... Best wishes love.

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  4. Ah! The Lit. Fest! I so much want to attend myself. But then, this is me! I search for excuses, genuine according to me, to not go and sulk at my helplessness and bask in the glory that I did not attend because 'family first'. As crazy and ridiculous it is, I know you will understand!
    Who doesn't know about Flynn Offr Anil. Very poignant but inspiring too.
    Waiting to attend a Fest. Where I show off that the writer sitting on stage is my friend- you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are all in the same boat...but the hope should remain and then one day it will happen! Thank you so much :*

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  5. Hi Anu... as usual you made the visit to a literary festival so interesting in your own way...
    Never thought they can be so interesting. ..
    But now thinking of having an experience once at least...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really appreciate the effort you have given to this post. I am looking forward for your next post. I found this informative and interesting blog.
    Birthday Party Photographers in Hyderabad | Wedding Photographers in Hyderabad | Corporate Photographers in Hyderabad | Event Photographers in Hyderabad

    ReplyDelete

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