The brightest patch of green? The fake turf carpet in the Diggi Café area. Or was it the fake turf placemats at Flow?
Beer and hard liquor saw many willing hands reaching out, but red wine was the most popular drink at the free bar, judging by how quickly it ran out. A rather oversweet white was second.
Day One saw only delegates and invitees getting free drinks, but someone had a change of heart by Day Two, and so your correspondent got to have a glass or three of medicinal red every night. To keep the cold out, y’know.
On the flight back to Bombay, at security, while the polite police ladies at the security check rummaged through my backpack, they found half-a-dozen pens and two notepads. ‘Are you a writer?’ the senior police person said. I nod. She asks my name. I tell her. Ah, she says, and goes on to the next bag.
***In the waiting area, I run into Menka Shivdasani, poet, journalist and friend, who is having bad luck with bag straps. Her new purse and her bag full of Rajasthani fabric have both given way.
***Also waiting for the same flight, Geoff Dyer, and, for the first time in five days, William Dalrymple in repose. So of course I butt in and ask him for a few minutes.
- How many people came to the Festival? “Maybe 25,000, from 19,000 last year.”
- How many guests? “Including authors, moderators and musicians, 223.”
- Hadn’t the festival outgrown its venue? Would it expand? “Yes, from one hall, to an extra tent, to two tents, and now even the front lawns. Next year, we plan to use the five acre space near the stables, where we’ll have the eating area, and the entire front lawn will be the main stage, with the sound console and pylons moved back.”
- Was it true that he had bailed out the festival financially in previous years? “It’s nice to have a good rumour floating around about me! No, it isn’t true. Sanjoy [Roy, producer of the Festival] did put in money. The rest of us didn’t, but we weren’t paid for our time. We almost didn’t make it, but Merril Lynch put in Rs 30 lakh within one day of our email to them. This year, Sanjoy should be able to be repaid, and we should have a small sum left over. In the future, we should get paid for our time. We spend two months on it, and January is practically flat out, doing nothing else.”