Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I am invited to a Muslim household for dinner this evening. Mutton biryani and liver are on the menu. Yum! India is great - however pollution in the cities is a danger to old men with a chest problem. One day in Delhi gave me bronchitis. Jaipur has taken eight days. I take the bus to Delhi and back tomorrow, twelve hours, to retrieve my camera from the vile (though official) Panasonic Agency. Has it been repaired? Of course not! I head south the following day for Goa, fresh fish and that essential of any Paradise, prawns grilled with chili and garlic. Brrrmmmm Brrrmmmm...
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Others were present, speakers both serious and comic. Of the comic, wondrous were Brigid Keenan recounting a King and I style solo dance with the President of Kazakhstan and Geoff Dyer queueing at an ATM in Varanasi. Larry White (The Looming Tower)fascinated with his knowledge of Islamic terrorism. Wole Soyinka was both poetic and regal. Of course there were more, Tina Brown, Tony Wheeler (founder of Lonely Planet) and a hilarious debate on Scotland as the West's Belarus between Alexander McCall Smith, Andrew O'Hagan, Professor Neil Ferguson and William Dalrymple. William Dalrymple was everywhere, even reading at length from his latest book from the stage during an evening of startlingly varied and always brilliant music.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I am back in Jaipur for the Literary Festival. I leave the guesthouse at 8 a.m and return around 10.30 p.m. I have been doing this for five days. How was the experience? Always interesting. Sometimes hilarious. And best of all, new friends and an invitation to Lagos for my 78th birthday (should I live so long). Two young Nigerian writers listened while a third interviewed me at length. Why me? God knows.
We talked (or I talked) of my African experiences and of turning my back on Africa. Time I returned, they said, rediscover my original love for the continent. They will put me up at a boutique hotel, have me ride a way with the local Biker Club, try myself out on the dance floor, experiment with a new drink or two, give a few readings, a few interviews, film a little. And they promise me a few days recuperation out on the beach. No politics. Strictly fun - which is something I think I can hack.
Best of all was their energy and humour and their warmth.