Today in Jaipur, I was stunned by a young journalist who knew so well of Bob Dylan’s transformation from acoustic protestor to rebel rocker – and another journalist, with whom conversation flowed from Urdu to Hindi to English and back again and again and again – theatre, poetry, politics, diversity, tolerance, India, the world – we discussed it all – in the past month, I was honoured to be Maulana Azad, Zafar, Saahir, Gandhi, Ghalib,and Manto – in Delhi, Patna, Mumbai, Lucknow, the universe – from the sacred shadows of Prithvi to a remarkable literary carnival in Avadh – and I was in Patna the day after the results of the elections were declared, and I was part of democracy celebrating, and my driver stating, with such clear logic – “PM ka kaam hai desh chalaana, na ki Bihar mein campaigan karna” – and tomorrow in Delhi is Zafar again, and today was story-telling to children in Jaipur – children who we constantly underestimate, and who constantly surprise and delight us – and then in Pune at the Film Institute, where the protest goes on, even though the official strike is over – but classes have begun, and the acting students, who had spent ten days in Banaras in June doing character studies, showed me the videos of their work, and I was stunned once again --- by their talent, their perception, and the immense, diverse truth of both our oldest city and our nation – as the 12 students became chaat-walas, roadside romeos, pundits, lonely women, and so much more – immersing their own truths in the truths of total strangers become friends, I realized once again that art is a search which never ends – and at the Film Festival in Goa, I sat in the audience next to the true director of a film – a fine, delicate film on the life of Guru Nanak – while the false director on stage claimed to have directed the film – and the producer, whose dream the film was, but who knows full well in his heart of hearts who has truly directed the film, stood in false pride on the stage and glowed in the spotlight --- even as his zameer ripped him apart – or maybe it didn’t – but as we stood in silent protest outside the theatre – the true director and I – the police, at first very critical – understood us, and even agreed with us – and I re-read Ruskin Bond’s “The Room on the Roof”, and am stunned again by the angry innocence and edgy nostalgia of the masterpiece – and Saahir and Dylan Thomas and T.S.Eliot and Bob Dylan’s verse fills both my suitcase and my heart – as does my brother John’s poetry, and the poetry of another friend from Bhopal who writes of pain and desire as if they were the veins of the heart – and films are dreamt and created and new plays planned and the played and the paths mingle and then drift apart like the pagdandis of the Landour of my childhood – and we win in cricket with such stunning certainty, and then win a bronze in Raipur in hockey –

And people die in Chennai and Paris and California and Syria and Iraq and Jerusalem and we must learn over and over again – at such price – that nature and religion and humanity are gifts to be treasured and shared, not to be torn apart or battled over --

“In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach” – Bob Dylan

“Taaluq bhoj ban jaaye, to usko todna achha” – Saahir

“Bhala kar, tera bhala hoga –
Aur darveesh ki sadaa kya hai” – Ghalib

“Time held me green and dying, though I sang in my chains like the sea” – Dylan Thomas

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea,
By sea-maids wreathed with seaweed red and brown –
Till human voices wake us, and we drown” – Eliot