C-NES Managing Trustee attends first literary festival in Bhutan

Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research,2 June 2010


C-NES Managing Trustee attends first literary festival in Bhutan

Sanjoy Hazarika, Managing Trustee, C-NES and renowned author, was invited to the first literary festival held in Bhutan from May 17-21, 2010 at the Himalayan kingdom’s capital of Thimpu. Hazarika, who has visited Bhutan a number of times over the past two decades, was invited to read from his books on the North-east and share his experiences at the Mountain Echoes festival, which was supported by the Indo-Bhutan Foundation and other sponsors. The festival, which was curated by Siyahi, the literary organizers and agents, based in Jaipur, drew celebrities such as the great poet and Oscar winner Gulzar, best-selling author Chetan Bhagat, Penguin India’s publisher Ravi Singh and TV personality Sunil Sethi of NDTV as well as Ms. Namita Gokhale and Patrick French. The festival was inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, who is herself an author, and Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley while Shri Pawan Varma, India’s Ambassador to Bhutan and a prominent writer himself, also spoke. At a reception at India House, Varma’s official residence, HM the Queen Mother greeted Hazarika warmly and said that they had long read and admired his writings.

During his session on May 20 the festival, in conversation with Ravi Singh, the head of Penguin India, Hazarika read from two of his acclaimed books, Strangers of the Mist and the more recent Writing on the Wall while also reading part of a chapter from a new book, Final Frontiers.

Many in the audience were in tears at the close of the reading, as Hazarika shared from his personal experiences of life and loss, in the passing of his wife who was one of his biggest supporters, last year, and in the powerful reading of a visit to a Naga village which had been devastated during the conflict of the 1950s.

Sanjoy Hazarika in conversation with Ravi Singh, Publisher of Penguin India

“You made us all cry,” said the wife of a senior diplomat as others came up to the author and expressed both appreciation and a sense of deep sadness at his description of the trauma of the North-east but also support and amazement at his initiative of the boat clinics which are now plying in 10 districts of the Brahmaputra Valley.

Hazarika had separate meetings with the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Thinley, whom he has know for several years, as well Commerce Minister Lympo Khandu and the Home Minister. They expressed their deep appreciation about the historic and friendly ties between Assam and Bhutan and the need to further strengthen these relations.