Baithak – Jaipur Literature Festival 2012

[this is a writing assignment that asked me to describe my experience of an object of art that I encountered. The art object in question is the Baithak Tent at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012, as clicked by Ritambhara Agrawal]


I was going to enjoy literature. I was not going to be dazzled by the tent or fall in love with a photograph that caught the ceiling of the tent in a beautiful way. I was going to have fun with my friends and listen to authors speak. I was not going to resist going to the Baithak and sitting with the crowd there. My trip to the Jaipur Literature Festival was all that it should not have been and the Baithak was at the centre of it all.

I was tired and hazy and all I wanted was a strong cup of coffee and my bed. It had been an all-night journey, no sleep, serious conversations and a feeling of dread followed by no breakfast and generally weary feeling. Nothing could cheer me up. Or so I thought. I had forgotten the effect colour has on me. I saw the Baithak tent from a distance, as I was hurrying to get a cup of coffee before the next session. It looked straight out of a carnival that we read about in books. It made me smile. The designer was playing with literature by putting something so obviously out of a book there in the festival as a venue. I also appreciated the idea of a riot of strong colors amidst the colorful crowd. The colors did not blend; they stood out, lending a solid base to the rest of the carnival. The next session started and the Baithak was forgotten.

The next day I had to attend a session. But strangely, I did not want to go. I did not want to sit amidst the crowds; I did not want to sit with my friends. But I wanted to hear the authors and poets speak. I decided to walk into the session late and sit at a corner, from where I could leave when I so desired. However, I was spotted by my rather enthusiastic friend who for some unfathomable reason had been saving me a seat and I had to go and sit with them all. I looked around and marveled at the tent again. The thick strips of bold and powerful colors stitched together for a regal feel and the low couches and beds made me feel like a guest of the royalty. It had the charm of the old, royal tents and I was struck once again, by the effect color can have on me. The clean simplicity of a splash of bold, uninhibited color arouses an indescribable feeling in me. It makes me feel happy. It makes me feel stronger yet tenderer. It makes me remember emotions I felt at bitter-sweet times in my life. It’s a mix of exhilaration and a heightened sense of pain. The emotion is all positive. Unlike the single, unadulterated color that causes it, the emotion is a crazy tumult of many emotions coming together to make a happier me. It is like many bright colors come together to make the white of the rainbow. These single colors come together not only to create a powerful image but also a powerful emotion. I love seeing a power play between two entities that complement each other. Here, the objects and the people were against the color of the tent.

There was another complicating element here. The sunlight streaming through the tent, complementing the general warmth felt while listening to people who make the literature we read today. The sunlight paled the colors of the tent, making the cloth of the tent look transparent and delicate. It did not weaken the colors though. It seemed to refine them and make them look more delicate and sophisticated while retaining their power and solidity. I saw this photo much later and fell in love with it. I was amazed by what a camera angle can do and how beautiful leaves silhouetted against a tent ceiling can look. It had color and the sun, two beautifully uplifting images. It made me smile broadly and forget all my irritation. I was alive, I was litening to lietartore and I could feel an emotion as powerful as I did when I came into the tent. That is all that matters, really. Jaipur, I shall come again. We have a score to settle. I have things to do. To re-live that I which I lived and live that which I was not able to.


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