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Bengaluru: How A Reading Club Is Taking The City By The Storm

Image Source The Hindu 3
Image Source: The Hindu

A sizable pipal tree may be found not far from the statue of Sir Mark Cubbon on horseback in Cubbon Park, Bengaluru. Many individuals are spread out on mats and blankets in the gardens surrounding the structure on a Saturday morning, engaged in activities such as reading, writing, working on laptops, painting, and even crocheting.

The number of people participating in Cubbon Reads has now reached hundreds. However, it began in December last year with just its two creators pedalling into Indira Nagar, Bengaluru, for a solitary read. There are no predetermined reading lists, unlike most book groups. Most of the event is silent, with people communicating in whispers to avoid disturbing others.


Image Source: The Indian Express

The shared experience of reading in silence, rounded off by a group photo in the afternoon with a stack of all the books brought by readers, serves as the only social media group or membership list.

Mobile entrepreneur Harsh Snehanshu and baker and marketer Shruti Sah are the minds behind Cubbon Reads. Mr Harsh says, “we never thought it would become something this big. It was just a nice ritual we had, and we posted about it on Instagram. A few people mentioned that they would like to join. It was very small in the beginning – there were five people in the first session and only one in the third.” Slowly, the idea began to spread.

Shruti said, “By the 15th meeting, about 50 people had come. There are no real demographics here – once there was a 70-year-old man sitting under a tree and reading, and another time a mother had brought her one-year-old child to read out children’s books.”


Image Source The News Minute

Harsh said, “We have stopped counting the number of people who come. At the peak, it was somewhere around 600 people. I think the reason why it has become so popular is that silence is mandated. That removes the anxiety of socialisation, and it is beneficial for introverts. But towards the end, as people stack up the books near the tree, people start interacting and even make some friends. People stay even afterwards and keep reading.”

Cubbon Reads goes side by side with Cubbon Paints. Professional artist Ambarish, who curates Cubbon Paints, said: “I used to be a documentary photographer. I took up art after suffering a brain haemorrhage that left me unable to move properly for two years… I used to paint in different parts of Cubbon Park, Bengaluru, and got to know about Harsh and Shruti’s initiative. Now there is a large number of painters alongside the many people reading.”


Image Source: The Indian Express

The local dogs have also made themselves at home – one takes a mid-morning nap on Ambarish’s blanket as he paints beneath a tree.

Since it began this year, Cubbon Reads has gained significant traction as a concept, with even the prime minister noticing it on Twitter. Six such reading groups run in Bengaluru alone; the others are located in Lalbagh, Whitefield, HSR Layout, Yelahanka, and the Sankey area. There are 56 of these chapters, 15 of which are located abroad.

If visitors want to join the group at Cubbon Reads, they can find the precise location listed on the Cubbon Reads Instagram account. Every Saturday from 9.30 am to 2 pm is the time for the event at Cubbon Park, Bengaluru.

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