Monday, December 10, 2012

BLF Part 1

I am so glad I registered on Twitter. It's been 7 months that I have been in Bangalore and I have not attended any of the city-famous events. Finally Chetan Bhagat's tweet about his session in Bangalore Litfest was so inviting that I bunked office on Friday and left for BLF at 4 in the evening. The event was in the other part of the city so clearly it would have taken me 2 hours to reach there. I finally did make it 1 hour early and it was Gulzar Saab's session that was going on. 

I always felt that God has bestowed him with the flair of words. Nobody else can so beautifully write a poetry about  "smoking" or no one can so wonderfully metaphor-ize a solar eclipse. One needs that foresight and the influence over words, to be able to write something so astounding.

Gulzar Saab and Pavan Varma in a Jugalbandi

Here are two of the small poems that he read out

This one is about the Solar Eclipse

College me aisa hota tha
desk ke peechhe baithe baithe
dheere dheere do haath sarakte
dheere dheere paas aate
aur fir ek achanak poora haath pakad leta tha
mutthi me bhar leta tha
suraj ne yuhi pakda hai chaand ka haath falak me aaj


Yaad hai ek din
Mere mez pe baithe baithe
cigarette ki dibiya par tumne
chhote se ek paudhe ka ek
sketch banaya tha?
aakar dekho, us par phool aaya hai

An English translation followed the recitation of these two poems. The English poetry was as beautiful as these. And even while Gulzar Saab conversed, it seemed as if it were some poetry. 

"Koi rishta sadaa ke liye nahi rehta...usko taaza karna zaroori hota hai!".. A simple expression is layered with so many meanings and has such depth that one can only appreciate the sheer gift of words.

While Gulzar Saab engaged the audience in a few more poems about the SardarSarovar Dam, and translation of sonnets on Yudhisthir and Draupadi, I slipped into a thought stream about the time when I would attempt at poetry-writing too. I wondered how miniscule my attempts were and how much more remained to be achieved. Only if I had the ability to put things simply, yet beautifully, I would do justice to one of my dreams of being an eloquent writer. If only!

The thought stream was interrupted by another discussion about a poem which was about "use-by date" of the medicine, written in such a way that it talked about the extreme religious fights that still go on today.

The JugalBandi between Pavan Varma,and Gulzar Saab and the recurrent Urdu-English recitation of poetry was a treat to everyone. Not many were acquainted with the flow of Gulzar Saab's language, so Mr.Varma's beautiful translations provided the quintessential relief to people who were not well aquainted with Hindi/Urdu.

The time stood still and I wished it would be like that forever. A beautiful winter evening, nice manicured lawns, a comfortable chair, minimum crowd, a hot cup of tea and Gulzar Saab's poetry - it was one of the best times I ever had.


I had actually come to listen to Chetan Bhagat, because I wasn't sure about the schedule and all I knew was that CB was to come and talk at 6.30pm. I had essentially bunked office for him. But it was, like they say, an icing on cake that Gulzar Saab was there too and I got a nice long time to listen to him. After Gulzar Saab left, the stage was set for Chetan Bhagat to come. The crowd, strength of about 200 people called out his name he appeared on the stage. Casually dressed in jeans shirt and blazer, he looked modest and sweet like we all know him. The session was called Crossfire and it started with his editor - Shiney Anthony asking him a few questions. He was questioned about his South Indian connection and he admitted that he loved South Indian women, because they are intelligent. He said, that he knew that not many men prefer intelligent women because of certain insecurities, but for him South Indian women are a turn on!

Chetan Bhagat in Crossfire

He told about the few Tamil words he'd learnt from his wife and how his kids also pick up both Tamil and Punjabi, a little bit.

Then began the Crossfire session, and the audience started throwing questions at CB and like he is meant to be the king of controversy, he did give some provocative replies and irked some of the people in the audience. One of his comments on Rahul Gandhi got him a question from someone who had written a book about Rahul Gandhi. Probably she took offence and questioned CB back asking why he is always making fun of Rahul Gandhi.

He said, he is not making fun of him, there actually do exist jokes on the internet about him, and that she should go and check them out. She cross questioned him asking him how would he feel if there were jokes on him, to which he replied, that there were many jokes about him too. He said, "People make jokes about me too, I make jokes about myself in my books, my whole life is a joke, you should read my books".

This reply got him a thunderous applause. He was as modest and cool as ever and his replies were silent killers. It was great to have someone deal controversies so well.

He also explained about why he writes in plain and simple English and also quoted that "Being Simple is very difficult". He may be a favorite amongst the literary critics, but he is the most widely read author and he says that is what matters to him.

He is someone who has a clear vision. He looks forward to bring about the change in the society through his writing, may it be through books, columns or magazines. I think he is succeeding in his mission because he a widely read columnist.

He never fails to inspire. It is always great listening to him. His solutions and answers to questions are very simple and approachable.

For new authors who are striving to write a book, or are half way through, he is a great inspiration! It was a great session with the person who is famous for creating a reading culture amongst the youth of India.


The next day's agenda of BLF had another session of Gulzar Saab which I missed, but I went for Day 3 where I heard the first time writers speak, followed by a great discussion about Bengaluru and India by some elite panelists namely, Shobha De, NandanNilekani, Akash Banerjee, Pavan Varma, Dr. AnanthaMurthy, Sir Mark Tully and AkashKapoor.

It was an eventful Day -3. More in next post! :)


PS: It’s been a while that I blogged. I have been trying super hard to create a new website, but this experience had to be written. Therefore I come back to An Obscure Optimist time and again. I think I’ll be here for a while before I get the Site up and running! :D