Gathering of Minds over Muses
On June 11th, the details for the 4th Read meet had been finalized and all left Avinash Subramanian’s residence with a smile and thoughtful look, wondering what to write on the topic chosen by Harish Vittal “Freedom”, he said “lets have this theme cos Independence Day is around the corner”, although it was a couple of streets away and incidentally he couldn’t make it, was held up in Blore…
The weeks wore on and a month had passed and we had yet to finalize the venue for the Read meet, the only venue that all of us thought would be perfect was Amethyst and as luck would have it, it was at their premises that we held our 4th Read meet on July 30th.
Yet another Saturday dawned as usual, although for me, the Sun rose around 12noon(will come around to why in a bit). I was all keyed up and ready for the meet, when I received a call from Anurag Mathur, greeting me” Good morning Aartz”, No!No! You dint read it wrong, he did say that because I was working night shifts and wake up around noon..He mentioned that he was going to be at the venue by 3pm to help out Prasad G I(Caferati’s Moderator-Coordinator) .A couple of minutes later, I got a message from Avinash saying Amethyst is awesome, and that he was there enjoying the place, relishing an apple pie. In-between all this, I got a couple of calls and messages from Avishek Aiyar, asking for directions, but he was unable to make it as he was leaving the country 31st night..
At around 4pm, I took print outs of my contributions, a story sent in by my cousin and some others, remembered to carry the Visitors Book (a tradition, we had begun at the previous meet) and reached Amethyst at 5mins to 5pm, when the Caferati’s banner caught my eye and I made my way to the Hall upstairs, which was the venue. A nice, big spacious Hall that opened out to the balcony and sit out, chairs neatly arranged on one side of the room, making it look like a grand ball room with plenty of lights and cool air from outside.
Spotted Prasad and Avinash, huddled over the music system trying to get it working. Could sneak a peak at Anurag who was out in the balcony, with a lady in an orange kurta wandering about, I discovered it was Ananya Majumdar, who had driven down from Pondicherry (it was good meeting her, and we were glad she made the trip inspite of the fact that she left the same evening back to Pondy). Got back into the Hall, discussing with the guys about what was planned for the evening with Mirchi playing in the background, when Sivakami walked in (she is truly a veteran, has been writing poetry for over 30yrs and many of her poems have been published). This is when Avinash releases the packet of hot kesari (a sweet made using sooji) that he had picked up at Saravana Bhavan, suffice to say the evening began on a sweet note.. After a couple of minutes this gentleman with a kinda lost look on his face strolled in sipping tea(I guess), this was N Madhavan,he’s been in the writing and publishing profession for over 20years, he is a Tamilian living in Bangalore. He told us later that he had heard Tamil movie songs playing and wasn’t sure if this was the Readmeet venue.
Time wore on, and Glory, AnuradhaVijayakrishnan and Prasad (yes, yet another Prasad) walked in,and soon the number grew from 7 to a final count of 14 with Siva K G walking in just as the meet began..As the clock struck 5.30pm ,we decided to start off ,with Prasad GI presiding over the evening.
With no further delay, the poets began reading their poems J Started off with Avinash, who had written what Sivakami called a”Poster Poem”, followed by Me, Aarti- I read out my “what more could I ask for?” poem and later on read this short story sent in by my cousin in Blore, Lalitha Murali called”Eternal Freedom”. The next in line was Anurag (well, let me just tell you that we dint intend on it being in Alphabetical order, it just so happened that the order in which we had submitted our contributions coincided with this), he read out his beautiful poetry on freedom called “the call of the free”, which was followed by a mini discussion on the poem and how it talks about Freedom from a bird’s point of view and how well he had captured the essence..
Vinay Virwani ,then read out his piece “In search of Reality- moksha”,he said he wrote this on his way back from Pondy and it was all about how we go in search of something when it is probably right in front of us or something we need not put in too much effort to attain, was very interesting and fun. All eyes turned to Ananya as she read out her Letter to Dad,which was truly a heart felt piece that brought back memories of childhood and the transformation that takes place when a child grows up, she had earlier written a letter to her mom,upon reading that,her father had said he was mad at her which was the inspiration for this letter.
We then turned towards Sivakami who read out 2 beautiful poems,written in her true style, that summarized Freedom so well,one of it even had Napoleon in it, no jokes.. Anuradha,in her soft voice read out her piece aptly titled Sleep,and when asked what inspired her to write that piece, she very humbly said” I just write what I feel at that moment” and quoted Robert Frost- two people know the meaning of my poem, God and me and now only God knows!!!That brought on a string of laughter, and some more puns- Madhavan came up with this one “Journalist is literature that doesn’t last and literature is journalism that lasts”…
Seeta Bodke, a silent participant, who had come with a friend Akshaya,read out her story called “the choice that wasn’t” ,an incident related by a friend of hers, that gave yet another dimension to the word Freedom. Siva KG read out his piece that was untitled, which was about different generations, change in times and struggles in a South Indian family, paying much attention to details such as the battle between the thumb and the Remote control, the vengaya sambar and potato curry on a Sunday morning, someone commented that it was a piece that Rahul Bose must hear, he would lap it up, although Siva felt he had hurried a bit at the end and he had intended on writing a long story.
We all then turned our focus to Madhavan and asked him to read some of the verses he had brought along, one was called “Tambrahm’s blues”, a typical saga about Tamil Brahmins, rib tickling and something we could all relate to. And another piece was called “tabu- 9/11), this was a superb mix of Tabu in Chandni Bar and the 9/11 incident, that was deep and was obvious he had put in a lot of thought into it.
Once all those present had read out their submissions, we moved on to those who were missing, or rather couldn’t make it – Read out Avishek’s “She” and Anupam Shah ’s “The Quest”, not to forget the amazing story sent in by Max Babi, which was the 1st part of a trilogy – Ronnie Strides in, that made us all chuckle and reminisce about that one person we had in our class back in school who was not afraid of anyone and would dare to oppose. Before we parted, I read out a 1st time attempt in writing poetry by a friend of mine, Animesh Bhatt, about being free.
It was about 7.30pm and a couple of them had already Bid Adieu, the remaining bunch of us chit chatted for a while and slowly made our way downstairs to the café where we bumped into Anuradha’s hubby and baby gal. Spent a couple of minutes talking about our work and what we do outside of writing and the gang split with a promise to meet at the next Readmeet.
Sigh!! Cant believe we are now 4 read meets old and Chennai sure seems to have many aspiring writers and publishers who are still so enthusiastic about writing, reviewing and participating in such forums..
Bid you all farewell !!Till we meet again!!!
Aarti @ 6/7/05