Bangalore is a special city, if you love the arts and literature, and oh, what a wonderful place it is, when you have a ringside seat. We were just ordinary people, brought up in old fashioned homes where books were a normal part of the household. It was assumed that you read whatever you could lay your hands on, listened to whatever music that played and expected to grow up into a “cultured” man or woman that “knew” and appreciated literature and art. Lakshmi and I were that stereotypical South Indian couple. Atta Galatta changed that all. Thrown into close proximity with writers, poets, artists and performers, it has been week in and week out of amazement at the talent, panache and artistry that we have been fortunate to see.
Bangalore has more published authors than one realises. You always assumed the great Kannada writers you’ve heard of lived here, but you never stopped to think where the author resided when you read an English book. But look, Sashi Deshpande, Anita Nair, Shinie Antony, Mahesh Dattani, Ramachandra Guha, and Arshia Sattar all live in Bangalore. In addition to these much awarded giants, so many of the writers, such as Nandita Bose, Amruta Dongray, Shikha Malaviya, Prashant Sankaran support us in all our endeavours. And oh, what a wonderful experience it has been. To watch these amazing people read, and emote and perform from up close. That’s when you realise it’s not just the genius of their work, but the simplicity, the humility and the humanness of them as people.
Like the time, during an amateur poetry evening, a gentlemen who had been sitting very quietly in the last seats, listening intently got up and walked to the front, and Dr Satchidanandan, yes, the pre-eminent Sahitya Akademi awardee proceeded to read from his works, and give his feedback and advice to the awestruck participants and audience. Or the time, when a lady called and said “Hello, My Name is Sashi Deshpande, and I work with the Sahitya Akademi”. She proceeded to ask if Atta Galatta was willing to work with the Akademi and host readings at the store!
Like the time a quiet, young poet who very politely asked us if we could host a hindi poet’s gathering called Anjuman. This firecracker poet called Sourav Roy launched his book at AttaGalatta and ultimately led us on to our first foray into publishing. And what a wonderful journey it has been… Thirty, talented hindi poets published in our first book, called Karnakavita, an anthology put together by Sourav Roy. To get our teeth into all aspects of publishing has been challenging and most rewarding. Such young, raw talent, that we have been fortunate to have them work with us.
Like the times, when we meet talent in all forms…artists, poets, craftsmen, musicians gathering about us, growing and polishing their craft. And what, wonderful, young people Atta Galatta has thrown our way. Hindi poets like Ankur Pandey, Mohit Kataria, Neeraj Pandey, Atul Jain, English poets like Mani Rao, Sridala Swamy, authors like Varun Agarwal, Arundhati Venkatesh, Samhita Arni, Andaleeb Wajid, Shweta Taneja… We have run out of breath.