14th May 05
It was just another hot and humid day in Chennai as it always is. Am sure just like me, the others were looking forward to spending some time in the Air-conditioned space that was Prasad's office. He had graciously offered his office premises for the 2nd Read meet. Left home around 4.15pm so as to reach the destination ahead of time so to help set the table and get coffee and snacks ready, incase any one was hungry and wanted to grab a bite to eat before we began.
Prasad had given us perfect directions to get to his office, inspite of which i got lost, standing outside his office; I called him and asked where the location was...lol. He got out and dragged me in, where i discovered i wasn’t the first to reach. It was a rectangular room with computer lined against the wall and chairs on either side, although must tell you, there weren’t enough chairs and the Host had to stand through the entire session. Poor guy, guess this the first and last time, he is going to be volunteering his office space...lol...
Was greeted by Harish Vittal (fellow ryzer), Archana (who was doing her internship at Business Line-The Hindu, she is studying Mass communication in Pune and is in Chennai for 4mths,loves writing, looks at it as therapy), Mr Narayanaswamy (consultant--textile) and Sharmila Vijayan (who is a Training manager by profession and avid reader and writer,esp to poems on animals,esp Cats).Pulled up a chair, and just about ready to make myself at home when the door opens and in walks Anurag Mathur followed by Pradeep(Code of Wooster)-ryzers. Couple of mins later, Meera walked in, she is taking a break and chilling at the moment (lucky gal), followed by Vidya & Navin Sigamany (they run an online creative writing magazine, Non commercial is how they run it, besides which Vidya is also a freelance editor, Navin like to write, as a hobby). Just as we were getting comfortable, in walks Ashok (who is into film/documentary making, animation and advertisement being his forte, and he is into Philosophy writing). A round of introductions later,Prasad graciously served coffee to all, some wanting sugar, some light, some strong.Phew!! We were soon joined by Sivakami(she has been writing poetry since 1970 and has over 75-80 poems published to her credit) and Nithya(a ryzer,who has been writing for the past 4days ).Final entrant was Saravanan(he works with the local paper called Mylapore Times)
Finally we were ready to commence..Harish gave a small intro to all about what a Read meet was and the details about the same. The read meet was now in action, I asked Harish to begin, he read out his latest “Black & White”, had brought the inspiration for the poem and that helped others understand it better. About 5mins was spent commenting and critiquing. I then read out two poems by Vijay Nair (fellow Ryzer and AKNite)-My Misery and Stoic Silences, there was unanimous cheer for the latter and all absolutely loved it. I then, read out some of my own writings- Queue and I saw your crying. We then passed it to Anurag to read out his short story (based on a true incident that occurred when he was waiting at a traffic signal with a friend of his) –The Look and he also read out a poem On “Poem”. Sivakami took over and read out a poem she had written based on an Iron box (sorry, don’t recall the name, but it was interesting). Harish, then read out a story sent by Max Babi (fellow ryzer) called “The Licking”, it had us all in splits, couldn’t stop laughing. Sharmila, read out a poem by Ogden Nash, which was truly hilarious and I guess most married people could relate to it. It was called “What every woman knows sooner or later”. Nithya had to leave in between, for she was getting late for class. and that was when Vijay(a budding copywriter) made his entry and was a silent spectator through the evening.
The meet was then open for discussion, we spoke about what we had heard to the art of critiquing, how and why should it be done..What makes a person a Critique?what are the qualifications he needs to get to that level.. Another interesting question that was thrown open by Ashok was,” What are we looking for in Poetry? Are we looking for Beauty or Truth?” Many suggested that poetry at most times is a part of the person writing it unlike fiction where it could be fantasy and just about anything under the sun. And the styles of writing and so on.
Some were getting restless and so we decided to wind up, and quench our hunger and thirst with more coffee, apple juice, sinful chocolate cake, and samosas. A few bid adieu and departed but not before we decided the date for the next read meet, to be tentatively held on June 10th and it will have all of us contributing on a common theme/genre/topic.
Some of us stayed back waiting for Prasad, who had gone to drop off Sharmila and finally left the place around 8.45pm.. An evening well spent is all I can say!!
Aarti @ 17/5/05
The review that had come in Business Line on 27th may 05