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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

06 October, 2004

The Launch - a Max's-eye view

Oxford Book Store, as one enters it, hits you suddenly as a piece of ultra-sophisticated housekeeping, almost like an embassy of another advanced nation on our soil. The ambience, the design, the upkeep and the general get-up are tremendously seductive. On Friday 1st Oct., 2004, seven-thirtyish on a drizzling evening, as I entered the store I heard a soft and cultured voice, discussing writers and publishers. A disembodied voice wafting in the cool air, without a source…. I knew I had come to the right place, and yet this lightly accented voice floating around seem to belong to a Britisher –not an Indian author, leave alone one of the Caferati.
Walking through the maze of lip-smackingly inviting books to the end of the store I saw a motley crowd of familiar faces –and Peter Griffin holding forth with a wireless mike. He immediately expanded his speech to welcome me, for a travel from Pune to Mumbai for a half an hour launch of the book, Stories At The Coffee Table, seemed a staggering adventure to most of the participants. I was touched, caferati.
It was like this : about 25 hungrily listening souls in the ubiquitous white plastic chairs, with four luminaries facing them, Manisha Lakhe –the lady with a razorsharp sense of humour, Peter Griffin- the grand master of ceremonies, Deepa Gahlot – the prim and unbending organiser always in the background, in the chairs on the dias, and Sunil Nair the main ghost who has been haunting others right out of the woodwork, to come to the fore and claim their fifteen minutes of fame to quote Andy Warhol [ whom Gore Vidal had described as a genius with the IQ of a moron] –were holding forth.
After the customary nice words about the enterprise, and words of hope : for SATCT happens to be in the eyes of the participants, [and n number of as-yet-silent lurkers], a unique venture with its own momentum, its own crisply righteous sense of belonging and its own place in history, for writers nowhere have ever tried to come together and beat the publishers at their own game. SATCT will always be the first enterprise at self-publishing by writers whose works may have never seen daylight…
There were a couple vociferous interruptions from the restive audience, who probably had a boiling cauldron of queries, but shot off only a few at the foursome facing them. Satisfactory answers were provided by major domo, P.Griffin who had done his homework well, and whose MC-ing also kept the queries at short leash – wonderful time management, for there was no overshooting the schedule.
The traditional lamp was lighted by yours truly, Manish, Peter, and Deepa to mark the launch of the ambitious venture. The audience clapped in glee, and the custodians of the BWC, good old Rats, Vijay, John, Manisha, Brahmanand, Dilfiza, Pranay, et al also got up to circulate around as the tea was served with a very intriguing tea-cup holder made of a silver alloy.
The whole event was stage-managed with astonishing precision and élan. One met a lot of new faces, one of the most notable ones being Meera Warrier, the Bookshop Gal to the ryzers – who was the hostess, and a very gracious one at that. Met Sir Lancelot [ Lalit] also –good old Brahmanand Singh had come alone minus the better half who always shines like a thousand watt bulb and lights up any assembly of limpest possible mortals. Met Avi Das, who has been posting interesting messages and even a whole short story [to yours truly for assessment] – who seemed to be oozing ideas about the future of the enterprise.
Well what is half an hour? Talked a little with a handful of others and it was time to go… yours truly had another long journey to make so a quick exit seemed in order.
All said and done, an event to remember, very professionally staged, despite the lack of celebrities and the camera wielding media teams. Dilfiza was in charge of photography assignment and she has promised one and all the results in a few days.
Keep the flag flying, BWC and caferati, a wonderful kick-off!

Max Babi



Blogger zigzackly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

06 October, 2004 05:34  
Blogger Max Babi said...

Hi Zigs,

Wud've liked to read yr comment.
It's grt to see my post metamorphosing into a blog.
Grt guys u'all are... reducing my burden !



06 October, 2004 08:48  
Blogger John said...

Hi max,

How do you manage to fit so much in so few words?

Am amazed at your power of observation!


06 October, 2004 12:13  
Blogger Max Babi said...

Hi John

Tks a lot -seems like I am going to be the permanent ghost who'll watch [and report] !


06 October, 2004 13:59  

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