From the time I know, I have been in company of books. Beginning with casual strolls in my father’s library and running my tiny fingers over the book spines to sampling one on a fine afternoon and falling in love with its tribe, I have hardly ever left the book-country. With passing years came new dreams and ambitions, and to fuel them, different roles and responsibilities. I pursued them but without leaving sight of my books and their world. During rough patches, I succumbed to pale fire and let my reading take a backseat. But like a faithful, I always found my way back to it. This steadfast relationship meant that less (and less) time was getting allocated to friends and acquaintances, and with each passing year, getting distant from most of them. One day, about four years ago, I realized I have (almost) run out of friends.
Of course, I had a circle of besties which continued to remain insulated from our different journeys in life but all of them were either in different cities or different countries. I had a solitary friend in town who had recently gotten married and I didn’t wish to call him over weekends anymore. On a weekend then, I did not look forward to hang out with anyone because there was hardly anyone.
And then in 2014, I made a friend. We stumbled upon each other’s tweets on a workday afternoon. We both were reading Haruki Murakami. And we were both from Chennai. We were thrilled! We instantly hit off. We met over the same weekend and talked a whole lot. He introduced me to S. And we laughed like we were meeting for the 20th time. Over the next few months, we went to movies and bookshops, coffee shops and beach, and struck a friendship that lasted. He moved abroad after an year but we continue to exchange messages and thoughts till date over books and beyond.
But his moving out of town meant I was back to square one. My time with myself was my most favorite: hanging out with a Calvino or a Gaiman, a Proust or a Dostoevsky was always the first thing to do over a weekend. But sometimes, I looked at the list and dropped my glance to the second and third and the rest of the entries on my favorite-leisure-things-to-do list and wondered if I can tick any of them too – like ‘meeting a friend’, ‘going on a long drive’, ‘jamming on karaoke’.
Then, on what looked like a regular day in 2016 but a fortuitous one in hindsight, one of my very good friends added me to a readers group on Facebook – Senior Reading Raccoons. Not the social-media gen type, I let the group simmer among many other groups I was a sedentary part of. But she was fairly active and notifications kept popping up on my home page from time to time. They kept getting my attention, first, a glance and then, a fuller clock time, and by early 2017, I was intrigued enough to join the conversations.
And so commenced a wonderful chapter of my life wherein I met people from various walks of life with different beliefs and goals but all bound together by their love for reading books. So many books, so many discussions, so much passion, so much love! In an inspired moment when I suggested to have a meet of its members residing in Chennai, little was I expecting the move to bring me such rich dividends. We had our first SRR meet on 20th May, 2017 and it was attended by 8 of us.
And since then, we haven’t looked back.
8 meets over the last 8 months and I have met some of the most wonderful people who are, well, crazy bibliophiles 😊
I got to meet 24 bibliophiles in person and interact with them over myriad genres and books. We also had a book of the month on few occasions and discussed them to roaring madness 🙂 And Then There Were None, Ghachar Ghochar, The Adivasi Shall Not Dance and All The Light We Cannot See got the honours!
From having coffee meets at some gorgeous places (L’amandier, Amethyst, Brew Room, Flower Power Tea Room and Cafe De Paris to name a few) to visiting bookshops (Rare Bookshop, Starmark, Boo Books, The Book Store), having outstation trip (a riot at Pondicherry!) to playing Secret Santa at the year end meet in December, we had a rollicking time!
And I hope the good times shall keep rolling in 2018 too.
I want to thank each one of you who added to my beautiful memories of 2017 and not to forget, some glorious book recommendations and substantial deliberations.
And a special thanks to those who gifted me their friendships.
Now I go, sailing onto 2018! 😊 Happy New Year, You!