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  • Flavours of the city, beloved bookstores and personality cults up close: Day 1 of Bangalore Lit Fest had all these and more | Bangalore News

Flavours of the city, beloved bookstores and personality cults up close: Day 1 of Bangalore Lit Fest had all these and more | Bangalore News


With the 12th edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) opening its doors to book lovers on Saturday, thousands arrived at the venue in the city’s Lalit Ashok hotel on day one of the two-day event which will see 170 sessions with various authors and speakers.

On Saturday, the festival opened with a keynote address ‘The Pen and the Stethoscope’ by doctor and author Abraham Verghese. Authors Malini Goyal and Prashant Prakash also spoke at a morning session about their book ‘Unboxing Bengaluru: The City of New Beginnings’, which is incidentally part of the city-wide Unboxing Bengaluru Habba initiative.

“The dominant flavour that everybody sees the city with is that it is a tech city. There is more to the city than just tech and startups. We wanted to dive deeper, and give a more holistic sense of what the city is about. Not just the top-down view but beyond that, and envisaged it as a contemporary biography of the city and captured some of that,” Goyal said.

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Another big draw was the session titled ‘Not Above The Law: Courts and Constitution’ featuring author and lawyer Gautam Bhatia, writer and journalist Manoj Mitta, and National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Vice-Chancellor Sudhir Krishnaswamy as well as NLSIU professor Aparna Chandra. Noting the importance of the issue of appointment of judges, Krishnaswamy said, “Unless the issue of appointment is reasonably resolved – and by this I don’t mean that the executive government of the day has the last word – I don’t see a strong court surviving into the middle of the century.”

At the session ‘Tales from Bookstore Frontlines’, visitors heard the stories behind beloved bookshops and their owners – Bengaluru’s own Krishna Gowda and Radhika Timbadia of Bookworm and Champaca stores, respectively, and Leonard Fernandes of the Dogears Bookshop, based out of Goa. The session was moderated by Jayapriya Vasudevan, who runs the Jacaranda literary agency.

Festive offer

Krishna Gowda noted the challenges that existed in running a bookstore in modern times, where buyers would often see lower prices online. He added, “Many times people do not realise that when books are sold much below the normal price by some online sellers, it is likely a pirated copy.” Explaining the culture of coexistence that prevailed in places like Church Street, which has as many as seven major bookstores, he pointed out that a buyer might come searching for a certain set of books, finding some at his establishment and other books at a neighbouring bookstore, as all bookstores had something different to offer.

blr lit feast3 Express Photo by Jitendra M.

With the release of his new book ‘Turning Over the Pebbles: A Life in Cricket and In the Mind’, English cricketing legend Mike Brearley’s panel was a welcome sight for sporting fans. Brearley, who is also a trained psychoanalyst, said “If you’re going to captain a cricket team, you have to try and help players be the best they can be. You may have to think of how they tick and how they’re different from each other. What suits one person doesn’t suit another. You also have to judge what the opposition would least love… What makes people tick is a very important part of cricket but also psychoanalysis.”

One of the later sessions was devoted to the history of Bengaluru, as exemplified by the book ‘Bangalore Through the Centuries’. City architect Naresh Narasimhan, who edited the second edition of the book, released after a gap of several decades, recalled that every history book written after the late Fazlul Hasan’s first edition invariably referred to him as a source. Hasan’s daughter Ameena Shaheen was also present, and recounted the first brush her father had with a historical artefact as youngster – something that would later push him to become one of the foremost chroniclers of Bengaluru’s history, despite lacking formal training as a historian.

blr lit feast Express Photo by Jitendra M.

Historian Ramachandra Guha also spoke at the event on the topic, ‘Personality Cults and Democratic Decline’. Contrasting personality cults such as those of Stalin, which came out of an autocratic system, and those of Hitler and Mussolini, who subverted the system after using it to gain power through elections, Guha examined the modern trend of countries with at least partial democratic histories electing authoritarian leaders with personality cults. In the Indian example, he cited Indira Gandhi as a past example and Narendra Modi as a modern example of the trend, further breaking down the reasons behind the rise of such personality cults, and the effects that they had on political parties and governments.

On Sunday too, various sessions will be underway across the five different stages at the venue from 9 am to 7 pm. A bus shuttle service will also be available until the festival ends at 8 pm on Sunday.





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