At the car park next to Diggi Palace, the venue of Jaipur Literature Festival, there is Marlon James. The author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the Booker last year, is arresting, cool in a blue designer slingbag flung across his tee, his hundred plaits glistening. He had a tricky start to the JLF. Before him, his now famous FB post, ‘Nice first impression, India’, a rant about how he was treated at Delhi airport, had arrived. He tried to quickly win friends and laugh it off, saying, “Listen, I come from Jamaica. I can’t judge a country by its airport.” But his sessions at the JLF are now over and he is going shopping—to a mall. A mall? In Jaipur, where there is such fantastic ethnic stuff? There is not much time, we are planning to quickly go over to Fabindia and pick up some stuff, says his publicist. A little later he is back. So did he find anything? “Yes, I picked up some kurtas,” he says.
“Sorry, I am what?” asks T.M. Krishna. “You are a tiger,” says the Carnatic maestro’s fan. “Oh, I don’t know if that’s how I would like to be described,” guffaws Krishna. But in his session with ace photographer and ‘bookmaker’ Dayanita Singh, ‘The Inner Life of Cultures’, Krishna is indeed charged. He demolishes the superiority of one metaphorical ‘caste’ of exclusivist classical singers. Later, at another interaction with youngsters at the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, he is again at pains to explain how music must break these hierarchies. “I can’t tell a folk singer that his Bhairavi is corrupted while mine is pure. He is singing his raga, I’m singing mine. We have to respect each other's versions,” thunders Krishna.