Since 2010, usually once every month, the Gurgaon Art and Literary Club (GLiterARTi) invites a writer, gathers like-minded people together, and starts a discussion on a chosen theme. Sharad Kohli talks to Meenakshi Sharma, the club’s founder, about her endeavours to ensure that Gurgaonites don’t miss out on the joys of the written word.
Q. How did the Gurgaon Art and Literary Club come about?
A. While reading a book is a personal and subjective experience, it is somehow limited by our own worldview and temperament. The idea of a book club came from the premise that when more people get together to discuss a book, a much deeper insight develops and thus helps better our understanding. We conceptualise theme-based book events, and invite authors, poets and playwrights to discuss their work and interact with their readers. While books have always been a passion for me, the coming together of a book club has enriched my own reading experience in every possible way. It’s been a fulfilling journey!
Q. Does a book-loving heart beat behind this city of corporates and condos?
A. Absolutely! It is not just that there are so many book lovers in this city, it is more that the people of Gurgaon appreciate the finer things of life, be it art, theatre, fashion, food, and yes, books. Most of our members have a balanced and mature worldview and are open to reading and discussing books beyond their comfort zone. And they have a much evolved sensibility that is open to new experiences. It is energising discussing any subject with this group, which makes the club such a vibrant entity.
Q. In your experience of moderating these discussions, what do you believe makes the city’s readers stand out?
A. Moderating a discussion in Gurgaon is no mean feat as the audience is very well informed and inevitably reads the book we are discussing. I am conscious of being surrounded by intellectuals who will on the one hand be willing to contest any remark and get into a debate on the topic, and on the other appreciate every nuance of the discussion. It is both challenging and humbling to moderate literary discussions in such a vibrant and well-informed environment. Fortunately for us, most of our members are open to new ideas, so we can discuss sensitive topics in a safe and non-controversial setting.
Q. Of late, you have invited a couple of authors who’ve set their recent novels here – is Gurgaon ripe for fiction?
A. Whenever I drive through this city, by day or by night, I can imagine a host of stories and plots just waiting to be written. There is so much depth of experiences in Gurgaon that any writer would be inspired. In recent times, this city has formed the backdrop of Ravinder Singh’s ‘This Love that Feels Right’ and Manish Dubey’s ‘A Murder in Gurgaon’. To my mind, the fact that every condominium is flanked by a village creates a very interesting and complex demographic which can inspire interesting stories.