Books can definitely be a mans best friend

Books can definitely be a mans best friend
As a little girl in New Delhi, Christmas after Christmas, my parents took us to only the BEST book shops in Connaught Place and we were allowed to choose one 100 rupees worth of books, which was a pretty large pile. One year it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five for my sister and me. Another year it was onwards to The Faraway Tree and The Enchanted Wood. Then the whole series of the Naughtiest Girl, we got them all -- the books piled up every single Christmas. And we spent hours reading and reading them in all corners of the house, smelling their lovely fresh paper and ink smell.

No toys and junk said Mum and Dad agreed, that was the nicest part of my parents parenting skills. If one wanted it one way, the other followed. And even though it was Dad who gave me my love for words, with his colourful and sometimes shocking vocabulary, Mum was the solid pillar on which my academic prowess grew, with her quiet insistence.

And then suddenly an opportunity yawned infront of me and I grabbed at it with both hands, like I always do. I was sitting along with the then archbishop and his right hand man Msgr. Jayanathan as chief guests and they both egged me on to start something in the Catholic Club, which was not the regular drinking and dancing, us Christians were known for. I had the experience of working in Berkeley with an author and I admired the quirky book shops that were sprinkled in down town Berkeley. Their look and feel I have never seen anywhere else in the world.

Then I had the experience of going to book launches with the Deccan Herald to various book shops in the city. They were horrendously boring and I struggled to write up 500 words, about them, for the Deccan Herald.

So I began to think about what I can do with books, but nothing concrete came up in my mind. Till one day I got a call from a young friend saying come to this XXX coffee shop in Garuda Mall I want to start a book club. So I went and it was fun, we all ordered coffee and talked randomly about what books we had just read. Still nothing clicked, it was a one off evening..

Then my second book needed to be launched and it cost me a large sum of money which we could least afford to launch it, in the club. We had to pay for the hall, the mike system, the snacks, the parking in the church, everything which came upto a cool 15 k, 10 years ago. That’s when an idea was born. Let me give authors a free platform to showcase their books and they can give readers a discount and it’s a free win win situation for all.Even outsiders were welcome to the book club, which no other event could. Readers get to interact with an author for free, and get an autographed book at the end of the programme.

I took the idea to the then committee, who were very encouraging and the book club was born. The name happened by the second month, when I decided to hold a competition, to choose a name and one of the initial readers came up with Browse and I added iBrowse to make it contemporary!

Then there was no looking back for seven long years and the club evolved as I did. But it tied me down and I was now at a time in my life, where I needed to travel and see my sons. So when the new MIC of the library came in and his ideas and mine clashed, it was time to hand over my legacy with grace and let them do what they wanted to with it. I was not interested in charging and they were and therein lay the clash. It was interesting to see how many jumped into the fray to run the book club.Like my members told me -- they all wanted a slice of the successful pie. If it had not been a success, no one would have wanted it!

Almost immediately two places contacted me, when they knew I had left the club. Nossa Goa a restaurant who wanted to increase his footfall and what better way than a free book club. And a huge and fancy business Centre named Kafnu, where I did a few sessions to help a young student of mine establish the place. So I have begun Book Bound and Page Turner’s, TWO not one book club and very successful I might add.

Both have been wonderful successes and strangely with my movement away from the club, my book lovers have moved with me.One cannot monkey around with books. A true book lover will always see and realise the difference with a moderator who knows the finer nuances of running a book club and another who is just doing a superficial job.I was really quite sure it would happen, but I did not want to be the one to say, I told you so.

So, my love for books have been passed on to my grand girls, who luckily have highly educated parents, who understand the importance of reading like mine did. They have begun reading to them from infancy and so both girls read fluently already and have a proud collection of lovely books, Luckily for them they live in the developed world where they enjoy the most wonderful selection of kiddy books and all for free, in their local libraries.

Books are definitely a man’s best friend and I am eternally grateful to have been introduced to them by my parents. Their love for books was passed on to me, to my sons and now my grand girls and beyond the boundary of family, my book club members. Many of my members were going through personal traumas and the book club helped them help themselves.

We are now like a big extended family and meet for impromptu meals, four times a year, in my home or in any one member, who offers.It’s a joyous feeling reading, discussing and sharing with one another.There is so much which my parents gave me to enrich my life, I can see my sons do it in theirs, with whom they interact with. So enriching my group of book lovers is a two way street, they give and I take and I give and they take and that’s really what a book club is all about.

It is not an event, or a show, or an impersonal dance. I share a piece of my mind, with each book event and it’s a wonderful experience each time, for the members to chat about it, over a cup of Nossa Goa of Kafnu coffee.

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