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Oprah Winfrey: India is 'greatest show on Earth'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:36 AM EST, Sun January 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Winfrey greets large crowd dressed in traditional Indian garb
  • She attends the Jaipur literary festival, and plans to interview author Deepak Chopra
  • Winfrey tells a crowd the trip is "the greatest experience I've ever had"

Jaipur, India (CNN) -- On a visit to Jaipur, India, Oprah Winfrey called the country "the greatest show on Earth" in an interview with CNN sister network CNN-IBN.

"What I've learned is, you can't see India in a week," Winfrey told the network in an interview airing Sunday. "You can't see India in two weeks ... India is so complex, I would have to say it's the greatest show on Earth. I've never seen anything like it. India, I'll be back again and again."

Winfrey attended Jaipur's literary festival, and said she also wants to interview author Deepak Chopra in his own country. Chopra, who is also a medical doctor, popularized the idea of combining traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda with Western medicine in America.

Dressed in traditional Indian garb, Winfrey greeted a large crowd of book lovers at the festival. "This is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, experience I have ever had."

Winfrey was asked about a controversy that erupted over writer James Frey. Winfrey promoted Frey's book, "A Million Little Pieces," then it was discovered that Frey embellished events about himself and other characters in the book.

Winfrey took Frey to task in 2006 over the matter. He returned to the television show in 2011.

"I've had more compassion for murderers," Winfrey told the large crowd at the festival, referring to Frey. "I was defending my turf."

The crowd at the festival was awed by Winfrey. "She is the most powerful woman in the world," one attendee whispered.

CNN-IBN also asked Winfrey about author Salman Rushdie, who canceled his appearance at the Jaipur literary festival after he was informed of objections from hard-line Muslims and a threat of assassination.

Rushdie, whose book "The Satanic Verses" is banned in India, tweeted Saturday he now believes police lied to him about a threat to his life to keep him away from the Jaipur festival, India's largest.

"I try to stay out of political decisions made by other people for whatever reasons," Winfrey told CNN-IBN. "It doesn't bother me, because I was coming for my own reasons and my own agenda, and when I heard that he was coming, I was excited."

Asked whether she supports the banning of books, Winfrey said, "I for one am not a person who believes in the banning of literature and the banning of books ... but I also understand, as a person who lives a very public life ... being able to keep whatever event you're having safe."

She said she decided to come to India in part to interview Chopra and attend the festival, but said she has a "vision board" with "ideas of things I want to accomplish."
One picture on the board features a cut-out photo of a woman on a camel wearing a sari, and says, "Come to India," she said. "I passed that every day for three years." She said she decided now would be the right time.

CNN's Sara Sidner contributed to this report.

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