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A howling rage took possession of the physician. ‘I’ll cure you, you glutton, for once and forever,’ he muttered to himself, and repaired to the pharmacy in the palace grounds. There, he took off his clothes and rubbed the scurf from his unwashed skin (he was not a man who favoured cleanliness) and rolled this body scurf into four miniscule pellets. These he further wrapped in silver foil, with a little cumin and asafoetida pressed in for good measure. While at it he added some anardana, the dried pomegranate seeds being his favourite ingredient and cure-all. Returning to the palace, he confronted his king. The four doses were placed on the royal tongue at quick intervals, while the fierce physician muttered curses and imprecations under his breath. These were, of course, taken as being addressed to the demon of ill health, for no one could possibly presume to be so rude to His Majesty.

By the time the third pellet was pressed into his mouth, the king was already feeling better. He beheld his loyal physician Jeewan Chandra Pant with gratitude and ordered that a bag of gold coins be given to him. The courtier who was summoned to bring the coins from the royal treasury appropriated five, but a bagful was still a bagful. The Vaidya was immediately moved to better humour and contemplated buying his beloved Pokhara mistress a gold hansuli, to frame her plump, pretty neck. Later, he was to wonder interminably about the possible conjunction of astral influences, the conspiracy of constellations, that had effected his radical cure. For the king’s digestion now flourished, the royal robes layered in purple velvet and satin rested gently on his reposeful abdomen; the queens, the prime minister, the ladies of the harem, all enjoyed the reprieve from his colic- induced cruelties.

The unexpected success of his unorthodox medicine prompted Jeewan to research further. He dreamt of formulating the perfect aphrodisiac. A Tibetan herbalist in Pokhara had told the Vaidya about the highly efficacious horny goat weed he had learnt of in China. The plant   grew in profusion around the Pokhara lake, and the royal physician had concocted a rasayan using the distilled weed and small quantities of the pink bell-shaped valerian flowers of Jatamansi. The king was offered the experimental potion, and it worked wonders. A certain royal lady-in-waiting whose husband was a confirmed catamite found herself   the subject of the monarch’s unexpected favour. He visited her bedchamber three nights consecutively and found his veerya, his royal libido, functioning as capably as that of a young man. The lady had a mole upon the inside of her left thigh, and this mole became the subject of his immediate and compulsive attention. The mole, he decided, in some leap of intuition or madness, held the key to his destiny as a monarch.

Nearly a decade after its inception, Jaipur Literature Festival is heading to Boulder in the US this September for three days of books, ideas, performance art, dialogue and debate on contemporary issues.

Over 100 authors, thinkers, poets and performers have been lined up to participate in the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival at Boulder in Colorado beginning on September 18, organisers said today.

Nobel laureate ‘overwhelmed’ at public event to celebrate A House for Mr Biswas: The Guardian

NaipaulWill he or won’t he? The question that has hung over the lead-up up to the eighth Jaipur literature festival was answered on its opening day when a frail VS Naipaul was wheeled on to the open air stage for his first public reunion in 19 years with Paul Theroux.

Festival directors William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale set the scene by programming a celebration of Naipaul’s name-making 1961 novel, A House for Mr Biswas. It was, said Theroux, “the foundation of Naipaul’s genius” – a novel without precedent, about a little man from Trinidad with big dreams. He recalled discovering it in 1966. “It’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read. I used to go home every night and read five to 10 pages.” 

william_dalrympleIn 2004, ten days after I moved my family to a new life in India, I gave a reading at a small palace on the edge of the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur. Fourteen people turned up, of whom ten were Japanese tourists who had got lost. The next year, I helped organise a modest literary programme of 18 authors. Two failed to arrive, but with the aid of my co-director, Namita Gokhale, we gathered a respectable audience of nearly 100. Eight years later, however, by some strange yogic sleight of hand, the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival has shape-shifted into the largest free litfest in the world and the largest literary event in the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Doordarshan to launch book-based show ‘Kitaabnama’ anchored by Namita Gokhale

Doordarshan is launching a weekly book show called “Kitaabnama: Books and Beyond” to address literary issues through dialogue and conversation.

Conceived by writer and literary activist Namita Gokhale, who is also the co-director of Jaipur Literature Festival and Mountain Echoes, Bhutan, the show will feature books, readings and encounters with writers from the spheres of Hindi, English, and various Indian languages, as well as guest appearances from international names and voices.