INDIA Blog 2 (Jan-Feb)

CONTENT: You can jump to these 5 pages (links at bottom)

  • 1- Jaipur + Literature Festival
  • 2- Mughal Architecture + water preservation
  • 3- Barefoot College + Off-the-grid solar energy in Tilonia (if you only have 1 minute, jump to the women singing here!
  • 4- Many Barefoot College projects + a special birthday
  • 5- First weeks in February – closing in on a project


January 22 – 27   –  Jaipur Literature Festival

We have the afternoon, so Sammi (Bangalore), Mike (Delhi) and I go on a first excursion to City Palace. Behind thick walls is the most graceful, ornate and light Mughal architecture – now serving as a museum (We did not go see the private quarters). By night most of the 9 Fulbrighters had arrived in our AirBnB. So nice to put faces to the names.  The next days are a mix of Literature Festival + Visual culture/craft.

JLF – Jaipur Literature Festival

JLF – Jaipur Literature Festival starts with Indian music before sessions on literature, politics – and for me: Climate. Most panelists are Indian, giving me a chance to hear an Indian perspective on a number of topics. Over the weekend the festival swells to thousands cramming the venues, artisan craft bazaar, food stands. The Masala Chai is a favorite!

Food comes in natural, recyclable pressed-leaf bowls and bamboo spoons – no plastic!

I was surprised by the strong female voice in the Kashmir session, the charismatic Oxford mathematician in the AI + Creativity session – but underwhelmed by the Brit + Euro-centric session on Populism and Authoritarianism. The book tent was pleasantly overcrowded. The Art Book fair in the old city was an alt-event for beautiful self-published work and small galleries.

Two Climate sessions stood out for me:

THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH with David Wallace-Wells, John Lanchester, Marcus Moench and Navroz K. Dubash in conversation with Prem Jha had carefully placed urgent and pragmatic voices on the stage. I met David in NY after his Times article in 2017 + hope to invite him to NYU-SPS.

And on the final day: CLIMATE EMERGENCY with Dia Mirza, Renata Lok-Dessallien, Sonam Wangchuk, Apoorva Oza, Namita Waikar and Shubhangi Swarup in conversation with Samir Saran, Presented by United Nations India.

Sonam Wangchuk impressed me most with his crowdfunding and community initiatives. He left immediately – but the moderator connected us. I hope we get to speak while I am here in India. In the meantime, I delayed writing this blog because I am immersed in the beautiful language of another panelist: Latitudes of Longing  by Shubhangi Swarup, a lyrical novel connecting humans back to nature, water, animals and plants – and metaphysics. In fact, I am going back to the book right now. How pleasant research can be!

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