Grab a Book, Hyderabad

A group of young people is sprawled across the verdant greens of KBR Park, spread comfortably over blankets and pillows, immersed in a book. While curious onlookers take a peek, this community of readers (who go by the name Hyderabad Reads) are immersed in their own world. Every Saturday from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm, they meet, read and go their own way.

The silent reading trend was started in Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park and has since taken over the country. Twenty-threeyear-old Shloka Chandra and 31-year-old Priyanka Peeramsetty reached out to the founders of Cubbon Reads who then connected the duo. Shloka recalls, “Both of us had a common goal so we wanted to join forces to build a community of like-minded people.”

The premise of Hyderabad Reads is simple: show up, read your book and be part of a silent community. Priyanka adds, “We did not want the burden of a book club which depends on people’s interaction. Most often, people (especially women) are not comfortable to just sit and read in public spaces. This platform allows them to do that.”

The idea is also to reclaim public spaces in a way that is non-violent and noninvasive. This is a safe and inclusive space, where both, the young and the old are welcome, and even people from the queer community can feel they belong. At every session there are 40-50 people who come armed with books and water bottles; some might go for a meal or a coffee afterwards but most choose not to interact but just read.

Yoga guru Harshitha Soni who frequents the sessions says the community has helped her get back to reading. “These are two dedicated hours for reading. Just like a Pilates class, this is when you focus on one goal. Also, the idea of a sangha (or community) makes a lot of difference. Being outdoors and reading with likeminded people is letting the mind pause for two hours every week,” she notes.

There are few dos and don’ts for member which include getting a book (physical or electronic), talking softly if necessary and being mindful of others. Shloka says, “Monotony is the goal. To appreciate little joys of life and making reading a habit. When 50 people are reading in a public space, it makes for a powerful visual and hopefully will encourage others to join in.”

With the success of over two months, reading sessions are also being planned at Botanical Gardens in Gachibowli. For those who want to get back to reading or are simple tired of hanging out in malls and restaurants, you know where to head to next Saturday. n MALLIK

Instagram @KBR Reads

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