Hay Festival finds its Indian home in Kerala

Bob Geldof performing at the Hay Festival finale in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

The three-day long Hay Festival which concluded at the Kanakakunnu Palace here on Sunday announced the quiet entry of Kerala into the league of cities hosting high profile events. The list of some of those who attended the festival is self-explanatory. Vikram Seth, Sebastian Faulks, BBC anchor Nik Gowing, William Dalrymple, Lord Meghnad Desai, Gillian Clarke, Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, Marcus du Sautoy, historian Simon Schama, Shashi Tharoor, Paul Henry, Namita Gokhale, Jaishree Mishra, Kishwar Desai and Vivek Narayanan. Also present were Tishani Doshi, C P Surendran, Manu Joseph, Tarun Tejpal, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Veerappa Moily, O N V Kurup, K Satchidandan and N S Madhavan.

To top it all, rock legend Sting quietly flew in from Mumbai, sneaked up on the local crowd and made an electrifying entry as the Geldof show peaked on Sunday. Dressed in casuals, Sting announced that he had come to hear Bob sing though he had heard and performed with him before.

For over 20 years, Hay Festival has brought writers, musicians, filmmakers and scientists together from around the world to cross cultural and genre barriers and foster the exchange of ideas. In Bill Clinton’s famous phrase, it is “the Woodstock of the mind”.
Festival founder-director Peter Florence summed up that the festival had found its Indian home in Thiruvananthapuram. According to him, “the festival already has its own distinctive south Indian identity. It is local and global”.

Discussions and debates, readings and recitals made the festival yet another cultural landmark for Kerala. Actor Mammootty, filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and State Education Minister M A Baby graced the inaugural function on Friday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter Upinder Singh, an author and professor of history at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, was a key attraction on the concluding day. Hay Festival which has already traversed six countries this year starting April will now travel to Cartagena, Colombia, in January.

Comments (+)