The Under 25 Club is a venture that aims to showcase the talent and zeal of the youth, by giving them a platform to be recognized for what they do best. They are a team of enthusiasts trying to make a difference by spreading the word of the youth. So when word got out of a Lit Fest that was brewing, I immediately tuned in. Several posts later, I had bagged a ticket for myself, persuaded by their excellent lineup of speakers. Finally the day had arrived, I was ready with a copy of the schedule, having tick marked all the sessions I wanted to attend. There were two stages where simultaneously sessions were to take place. And with over 400 people, both the rooms were jam packed. Having never been to The Humming Tree before, this was a wonderful first experience.
We were given goodie bags that were filled with bookish content. Their badge and bookmark couldn’t have been more on point. The event started off on a great note with a Spoken Word workshop by InkWeaver on Stage A. Janet Orlene, who led the workshop was high-spirited and made the audience laugh with her witticisms. Everyone was encouraged to shuffle around and sit with random strangers. A few questions, high fives and swear words later, partners had to come up with 8 lines of poetry each and then would be selected to perform on stage. Not only was this a splendid ice breaker, but a great session on Spoken Word for newbies like myself.
Next, there was a session on Gods & Monsters wherein the importance of mythology was discussed. When asked about the relevance of theses stories in today’s time Sharath Komarraju, renowned for his Hastinapur series replied that relevance is subjective; each era picks up its on relevance from a myth. Drawing a parallel between Greek and Indian mythology, Anuja Chandramouli (author of the recently released Yama’s Lieutenant) says that just as a war was fought over Helen in The Iliad, similarly in Ramayana and Mahabharata, wars were fought over women. Personally, this session was one of my favorites of the day.
While authors like Andaleeb Wajid, Durjoy Dutta, Shinie Antony, Madhuri Banerjee and Nandita Bose led a debate on Love vs. Lust, Stage B featured a session on Heartbreaks and After by Dr. Shyam Bhat. However, this wasn’t the last of the love themed talks for the fest. The element kept cropping up in many other wonderful stories that people had to share. Kommune’s Storytelling 101 was a unique session because of all the varied forms of storytelling that we were witness to. Moreover, the entire day was interspersed with great music by even greater musicians, who had the room swaying to their beat or in one particular case, hopping along with the lyrics (Akhilesh Kumar, thank you. We’re all a little more shameless now!)
The Book Clubs and Community Building talk by Priyanshi Patel showed us that as long as you are passionate about something and are willing to walk the extra mile, people will come together. Her Ahmedabad Book Club is few tens of thousands strong. Two sessions concerning media (Politics in the Age of Social Media and Is Excess News Just Noise?) were rather interesting as we got to listen to people from the field including Shaili Chopra, Aakar Patel, Vasanathi Hariprakash and Roshan Abbas. They had strong opinions about the status quo of journalism and news distribution. When asked if there is too much media in India, Aakar Patel said that there is not enough of media in spaces where they are needed.
Almost an hour long session had us raptly listening to Danish Sait talk about the ups and downs he has faced and how is career progressed to where it is now. Kudos to you, for persevering and showing us that the grass is truly greener on the other side. The day would not have been complete without giving due credit to the host – Sriram Sullia – whose lively emceeing made the fest all the more enjoyable.
The Lit Fest was a massive gathering of professionals and students alike. Every individual who contributed to the event had something very powerful to say. And we as the audience, definitely brought back home some of the best advice from people who have “been there done that”. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate and shared their thoughts. Thank you Under 25 Club for such a spectacular event. Hats off.