Delhi's first Caferati meet - Oct 16, 2004.
Not cheesecake, not orange-n-walnut cake, not raisin-n-chocolate cake. But soft, homemade lemony, light-on-the-palate cake. Mmmm!
That said, let me proceed to thank Anita (and her sister-in-law who did the baking, I believe) for the goodies we partook of (yes, yes, I know. Archaisms don't go down well with everyone, but this is MY report.)
I walked in to Anita's Defence Colony residence, and was led upstairs into a warm living room where I was introduced to Madhu (editor of journeymart.com and fellow-ryzer) and Meera (who kept introducing herself as "I'm not yet a ryzer" until we told her it wasn't necessary). Meera works at the Greek embassy, is a voracious reader and buys a lot of books, which I trust will make her very popular with this network. She is going to join Caferati very soon, I hope.
While we waited for the others, I indulged in some light-hearted nostalgia and told the others about our first reader-meet, at Bandra Bandstand.
Harjaap, a new member, was the next to join us, followed by Gaurav (who's into business writing for mighty search engines and the like) and Yamini Dhall, who came all the way from Chandigarh. Somit Makar and Shilpa Bhatnagar were next. There was the usual reticence to begin with; most people did not bring anything to read.
Anita began by reading something that she wasn't quite sure how to describe - a short story? An extract?
As it turned out, the piece seemed rather complete by itself, though it could just as easily metamorphose into the first chapter of something larger. Her protagonist, Jia, was likened to the character played by Anuradha Patel in the film Ijazat. I still remember one of the last few lines - the death of a muse... in my eyes.
Yamini was prevailed upon to share one of her short poems. She hadn't got any written out, but she'd saved as an sms on her phone, so it was available anyhow. I trust she will share it here as well.
I read out three poems. The first one, White, drew mixed reactions. Some noticed the... well, the whiteness of it. Others commented on the lack of grey, which led to a short discussion on the white, black and grey of the mind and its reflection in our writing.
And the second one drew a question about why the toast was dry (refer to the blog for the whole poem), which enforced a revelation of my breakfasting habits.
I followed this up by reading out Keki N Daruwala's 'Chinar'. Simply because it's such a favourite with me.
Anita set us off on several discussions by asking us what we were all reading/writing. And this led to an interesting tangent about letters and diaries. Anita, it turned out, is writing three sets of journals. One is a set of letters to her young son. Another is her rant-diary, and a third in which she pours out her gratitude.
The next interesting bit of information came from Harjaap, who's great-grandfather has put together a set of letters in a book called 'Letters From Jail'. The title is self-explanatory, but let me add that these were letters from India's freedom struggle era.
I have to admit that I couldn't keep track of all the parallel conversations happening in the room, and soon, we were all getting restive about getting home. We left promising to meet again next month, tentatively on the afternoon of 20th of November, though the details will be finalized a little later. We've debated the pros and cons of another venue, especially with the infamous Delhi winter upon us, and Anita generously offered to play host a second time.
Needless to add, we all had a very nice time.