Last week, a group of writers and I were part of the Te Aroha Literature Studio Writer’s Retreat in Dhanachuli, near Mukteshwar. There will be more written about the discussions and the learnings from that retreat eventually, but because I am dead lining right now on something that must be submitted in a couple of days, I leave you with this. Some photographs of the lovely venue and the interesting and wonderful mix of folks that were part of this retreat.
I must add, a huge thank you to Sumant Batra, the committed patron of the arts who hosted this fabulous retreat at his wonderful luxury boutique hotel Te Aroha, to Vibha Malhotra, vibrant and passionate about writing and literature, the founder of Literature Studio, who kindly invited me to be part of this retreat. Also to Dr Sakshi Chanana for moderating the lovely panel discussion I was part of, on Social Media and the writer, a topic I have been grappling with for yonks and coming sadly, to no acceptable decision.
Among my fellow participants, I was honoured to meet stalwarts like Amir Or, Sudeep Sen and Geet Chaturvedi who introduced me to the magical beauty of poetry read aloud, something I had sadly been oblivious to in all these years of reading some poetry (not too much, I must confess). Rashmi Nambiar, who made me realise that the power of a story read with emotion can churn your heart up and dissolve it into tears, Supriya Dhaliwal, for her wonderful confidence and overwhelming maturity in her poetry, Maulshri Shukla Rajdhan for her powerful poetry and prose that provoked, disturbed and moved one, Kulpreet Yadav for the commitment and dedication he brought to his writing which was most inspiring given the slacker I am when it comes to pushing self and work, Vijay Datta for his love for poetry and the depth he brought to the discussions, Vineetha Mokkil for proof that short stories do have a market, despite all they tell us, Saritha Rao for the sheer joie de vivre she brought to the gathering and the wonderful documentation of the retreat through her new camera, Chef Michael Swamy and Mugdha Savkar for inspiring me with the passion they bring to food and photography, my family might just suffer from the results of some experiments I do in the kitchen now.
I went unknowing what lay before me. I returned a richer person, enriched with new friendships, with new perspectives. And yes, the announcement that we will now have a Kumaon Literary Festival next year, at the same venue, a decision that arose from the discussions and debates through the retreat, a discussion that spoke of the need to have a literary festival that was far removed from what literary festivals have now come to stand for. November 2015 is when the Kumaon Literary Festival will happen. More details on the Te Aroha page linked to at the end of this post.
More pictures from the retreat right here in this facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/tearohadhanachuli