JLF ’12 – Day 3

I saw Oprah today. Heard her talk, felt her spirit. The lawn was soaked in a green and gold energy that softly wrapped its arms around us and told us to hush up and listen to one of the world’s most influential women. And we – a few thousand people – did.

Oprah talked about vision boards – how she had one up for Obama when he was fighting his presidential campaign; how she had one up for India – a woman on a camel – and how that dream came through three years later.

She talked about the chaos that is India. She also talked about the river of calm that runs beneath all this confusion – about a ‘lack of rage’ that makes you feel secure and safe. She talked about how she was horrified by the widows of Benares, locked away simply because their husbands died. And then, how she suddenly realised that this discrimination exists everywhere, more subtly maybe, but it does. Widows are simply not as welcome as wives are. Things change imperceptibly after one’s husbands dies, and all women, everywhere, experience this. Of course, Oprah being Oprah, wants to help alleviate the plight of the widows of Benaras, and Oprah being Oprah, may actually be able to do so.

She talked about her book club; apologised for her brutal attack on James Frey, author of ‘A Million Little Pieces’ when she discovered that some of the stuff he had written was not true, and explained that she ‘demolished’ him because her ego had been hurt. ‘I should have shown him more compassion,’ she said.

But it was her unabashed belief in the power of God that did it for me. She’s a believer, and so am I. She believed quite simply, and blindly, that he would work things out for her (and we all know how that’s turned out). So I love the fact that she is talking about Him – loud and clear.

Oprah being interviewed by a very star-struck Barkha.

These girls came down from Mumbai just for this! They were super cute and Oprah waved to them and said a deep-throated "thank you".

Deepak Chopra was on next. He talked about metaphysical worlds, atoms, neurons, the universe, and our role in it. He didn’t quite cut it for me. However, I did like his take on stress, which he believes, is a result of seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes. Know yourself, he said. Damn the world.

Deepak Chopra waved hello to his friend Shekhar Kapur in the audience, who is looking a lot older, but is still quite dishy.

The session on Kabir was also interesting. Arvind Mehrotra’s translations of Kabir’s dohas into contemporary English reach out and grab you by the balls. The panelists called Kabir a poet of love – and hatred. He hated the autocracy of all religions equally. He was also a poet of death, and this leitmotif recurs again in again in all his poems. We all have to go, he says. What’s the use of hanging onto your bag of gold coins? Chant the lord’s name; carry him with you to your grave.

And so, on that note, let me just say again that it was a lovely day. The power of O is alive and well people. More power to Ms Winfrey.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt played up a storm at the concert that night.

Old Willie at the concert, chilling with his little boy.

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