Arjun Appadurai: My Imaginary Invitation to the Jaipur Literature Festival

by Arjun Appadurai

62648094Dear Professor Appadurai,

We are writing with great trepidation to invite you to the Jaipur Literary Festival this year. You have never been invited to this Festival over its many years of star-studded glory, unbridled creativity and collaborative celebrity, because we have hesitated to include someone with your fame, stature and credentials to our humble (yet magnificent) event. It is also the case that we do not generally support serious books with too many footnotes. Unless they are published by one of our already established cognoscenti, who sometimes dabble in scholarship of various kinds.

But we digress. We want you to give a plenary talk, during which all other panels, promotional events, political processions, private parties or sexual interactions will be strictly prohibited. This can be at a location and time of your choosing. We suggest the Taj Rambagh Palace lawns at sunset, with a special rendition of Raag Yaman will be performed by a global orchestra conducted by A.K. Rahman.

We are aware, of course, that Rajasthan is a slightly controversial setting, where bride-burnings, film censorship, mob lynching, beef bans, cow protection militias and murders of Dalits, sometimes upset the royal serenity of our palaces, forts, villages and luxury hotels. But we assure you that we guarantee your security, comfort and peace of mind, unless you say something that could hurt the feelings of the sponsors, the Rajasthan government or the Karni Sena, though these are all composed of individuals who are usually entirely free of feelings.

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