Fact & Fiction

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LOVE FROM A STRANGER
An innocent Litfest organiser leapt upon poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, convinced he was Roddy Doyle.

OEDIPUS WRECKS
Nandita Puri played the longsuffering mother of Tughlaq, squeaky-voicedly entreating her real-life husband Om Puri to spare her life.

THE DAUGHTERS OF TIME
Catherine Clement,
 French intellectual and author of Edwina and Nehru: A Novel and Nayantara Sahgal, Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece discussed the roaring affair between Jinnah and Sarojini Naidu. “It is wellknown in France. Why is it not spoken of in India?” asked Clement. Came the reply, “Because our national leaders are not allowed to have sex organs.” Sahgal and Clement also agreed that Sahgal’s ‘maamu’ was a beautiful man while Edwina was ‘nice’.

ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE
Javed Akhtar jumped out of the audience to accuse Steve Coll of being part of an American conspiracy that pretends Osama Bin Laden is still alive.

SUCH A LONG JOURNEY
Hanif Kureishi, irritable about being on a panel called Migrant Words, snapped, “I have moved a few kilometres within London. That’s the extent of my migration.”

THE NAME OF THE ROSE
The toothsome Bangladeshi author Shazia Omar had to be shepherded through crowds of autograph-seeking men. Subsequent to getting her autograph on new notebooks came the question, “What is your name, madam?”

TEATIME OF THE SOUL 
Sidin Vadukut
 (first-time author of comic novel Dork), on the Jaipur Litfest experience: “It’s like a college fest, except you don’t go home — you just grow older.”

PASSAGE TO INDIA
At one Litfest venue, the Mughal Tent, speaker Amitava Kumar stopped to salaam William Dalrymple, who’d just entered. He went on: “I hear Dalrymple is soon taking over the world. This is how the East India Company began.” One Mughal tent at a time.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST 
Shabana Azmi
 in quiet whisper to Javed Akhtar, while listening to the young Ali Sethi sing Faiz: “Yeh ladka mujhe bahut achha lag raha hai.”

AN EQUAL MUSIC
Hearing a ‘whoosh-whoosh’ sound, Wole Soyinka paused mid-reading to peer down his chin at the mike: “Is my beard doing something?” Soyinka thankfully didn’t take umbrage at Urvashi Butalia introducing him as ‘the greatest thing since sliced bread’.