Preparations in full-swing for JLF 2019
A special team of bloggers, like the past few years, have again been looped in to keep the social media abuzz. The festival's major venues inside the Diggi Palace, including the Front Lawn, Mughal Tent and Durbar Hall, among others, are all being prepared for the mega congregation of writers and readers. Apparently, the organisers are also taking weather into consideration as instructions to volunteers on what to do if it rains were being disseminated on Tuesday.
The Delegate Lounge, where writers heave a sigh of relief during the little moments of peace that they snatch between their sessions, is being decorated, and furniture, coffee machines, among other necessities, are being placed inside so that they face no difficulties. Several trucks carrying thousands of books for the festival bookstore were seen making their way in and out of the Diggi Palace while those in-charge are racing against the clock to have the facility organised in time so that it is open and functional when the festival welcomes its first visitor.
The bookstore is spread across a massive area, and is, in fact, larger than some of its smaller venues. It has several ailes where readers can walk freely, flick through the books and buy the ones they like. Not very far away from the festival bookstore is one of the author signing areas, where after every session writers will sit down to sign books and interact with their readers first hand. Emergency exits have been earmarked and volunteers were given guided tours and instructions on what to do in case an emergency evacuation is required. Festival Producer Sanjoy K. Roy was himself seen at the venue, passing necessary instructions as well as participating in the ongoing preparation for "the greatest literary show on Earth".
The day also witnessed a police briefing where personnel were instructed by top officers about their responsibilities. They were told to be at the top of their behaviour and in their best uniform. Senior Officers were heard instructing the personnel that world's finest thinkers come to this festival and they should expect good behaviour from the crowd. But should their intervention be required, they should not hesitate to do so, they were told.
A large entry gate with a banner reading "Celebrate the Word" has been put up on the main road that leads the visitors to the Diggi Palace. Along the short walk to the venue are several registration points, through which all visitors must pass through. Elaborate security arrangements have also been put in place as more than 500 police personnel, in both uniform and civvies, will be on venue to tackle any untoward incident. Clear instructions were given to personnel that every single person entering the venue must pass through metal detectors, be frisked and allowed inside the premises only after due diligence.
Festival co-director William Dalrymple will not be attending this edition of JLF as his father passed away recently and he decided to spend these crucial days with his family. His counterpart and noted Indian writer Namita Gokhale, who is largely credited for the representation of writers from the Indian languages, will have double the work to do during the coming five days of what she earlier described as the "Kumbh of literature". Over the coming days, lakhs of visitors will partake in this grand celebration of the written word and for those who cannot, JLF has seemingly upped its ante this time around on social media and regular updates will be available across various platforms.
(Saket Suman is in Jaipur at the invitation of the organisers of Jaipur Literature Festival. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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