The Bangalore Literature Festival has arrived early this year. As we gear up for some scintillating conversations and intellectual gossips, I am all nostalgic about #Blrlitfest2016. The festival last year covered a diverse range of topics including history, politics, geography, biography, popular fiction, erotica, food, travel, evangelism, human rights and a lot more. You might want to read our report on the Festival here. I also remember how thrilled we were when the kind Mr Piyush Mishra agreed to our request for an interview.The experience of interviewing him was a reminder on how to stay grounded even when you achieve greater heights of stardom.
I delighted myself with the joy of spending an entire day in front of the gates of the Central Jail in Bengaluru along with a friend. On retrospection, it sounds like a stupid idea to wait in front of the gates of a prison for whatever reason. However even the stupidest of ideas leave you with an experience worthy of writing. So here is my recollection of how the day unfolded.
On a normal day, I do not use alarms to get up in the morning. The body clock adapts quite efficiently. On days when I want to put double check-posts, I set an alarm. However, on such occasions, I get up well before the alarm time to actually sit and listen to the alarm music when it goes off. I had been meaning to attend the Mangal Arati (the morning prayers in Indian temples) at the Ramakrishna Math, Ulsoor (Bengaluru). The Arati starts at 5 am sharp. So I had to start around 4 am to reach well in time. This was on 25th of February. Though it was difficult to break the inertia of sleep, once broken, it was all energy and exuberance in the arctic breeze striking against the face. The night was not over yet. The morning was yet to arrive.
Strangely enough, more than a good 30% of the protesters were teenagers and more than a 50% in their early twenties. Their eyes seemed to light up with joy at the sight of people who were scared and wanted nothing more than a safe passage to home.
Bangalore got its own Poetry Festival this year. Considering the fact that the city has a strong and vibrant poetry community that thrives in the bookstores, cafes, and parks; a poetry festival was in fact due and perhaps should have even come earlier than now. The festival was liked by most of the attendants. I must most sincerely thank the organizers for such a Herculean effort.
There is one more thing that must be spoken about. A book was specially commissioned to be unveiled at the festival. Po’try was released as an anthology of poems that were shortlisted from the entries that were received in response to the poetry contest conducted as part of the festival. The entries were supposed to be in English, Hindi, or Kannada and required the number of lines to be more than 25.
A few days ago during the Bengaluru Poetry Festival, I was almost done for the day when the Master of Ceremony announced that the next event was going to be a performance by Padma Bhushan Teejan Bai. Only the mention of Padma Bhushan made me stay back. When Teejan Bai began with her Pandavani, I was happy that I stayed back. Although I barely understood the language, she was so fascinating and inspiring with her songs. It was one of those moments when you realize that certain arts are so powerful that they appeal to you breaking through the barriers of language.