Almost the first person I run into at the David Sassoon Library at Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda festival is an old schoolmate who now heads one of India’s top-100 companies. We met just a few weeks ago at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).
“I’m here for the headliners,” he had said then, explaining that the JLF allowed him to maximise his (rare) holiday time by corralling Niall Ferguson, Steve Coll, Lawrence Wright and Anne Applebaum in one location. Surprised that he would be attending sessions on children’s writing, local Mumbai histories and Dilip Chitre’s poetry at the much-smaller Kala Ghoda literary festival, I ask whether he comes here often. “Yes,” he says, and introduces me to three other men from the corporate world. “This might be smaller, but it’s our best chance to catch up with local writers. I’m here every year.
Kala Ghoda is relaxing in a way that the increasingly adrenalin-fuelled JLF can no longer be. The latter offers a kind of intellectual crack cocaine; it’s exhilarating, attention-getting, but “restful” is not the word that comes to mind if you’re attending back-to-back sessions at the Diggi Palace.
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