The other day I had gone to meet a friend. Despite my efforts to reach home on time, the Delhi Metro played truant and I got delayed. I called up the L&M and gave him the gist of the meeting and told him to keep a cup of ginger tea ready, my laptop switched on and the front door open. He didn’t ask me why, probably thinking that I had some kind of urgent work.
After bribing the autowala to take me home by the shortest route, I kept glancing at the time and fretting about being late. I had already missed the previous week’s session. As he dropped me at the gate, I thrust nearly double the fare on the meter into the autowala’s hand and ran home. I managed to sit in front of the computer screen at 3.15 PM and tried to catch my breath. A cup of tea appeared at the table and I barely glanced at the L&M as I took it. He peeped curiously at what it was that had me in such a tizzy!
So what was it that was so important for me that I went through all the drama? A Twitter session, of course! But wait! If you thought that I am a social media fiend, you are mistaken.
I had reluctantly joined Facebook and was finding it very hard to keep up with it trying to follow my friends and putting up status updates and replying comments. And when I thought I had got the hang of it I felt emboldened to try Twitter but soon realised that I was back to square one! Besides, Twitter was much faster than Facebook and a little more complicated to boot.
One didn’t like or share, but had to tweet and retweet; there were no friends but followers; the members were known by the quaint term tweeple; the convenient wall where you posted status updates was missing and replaced with a timeline that moved faster than the speed of light.
I watched from the sidelines, till one day I discovered a group. Founded by three online friends, The Sunday Book Club was touted as being fun, a place for book lovers who could discuss everything connected to books and interact with like-minded people on Twitter. (You can read more about it here and here.) Every session would have a topic and six questions were to be put to the participants who tweeted their replies and reacted to others’ tweets. Some of the topics covered so far include Favourites – books, authors, genres, etc., Books and Films, Book Covers, Travel Books, Biographies and Autobiographies and the Ramayana.
I decided to follow The Sunday Book Club or TSBC for short, albeit with much trepidation. I was sure that I would have nothing to say since I love books but am not passionate about them – well, except one book, but let me come to that later.
‘Never mind, just follow the discussions. I am sure you will find yourself joining in,’ Sudha assured me. ‘Who knows you might even win a book give away!’ (Every session has a winner who gets a book as a gift) Needless to say, I didn’t believe her.
The group was so informal and the discussions such fun that to my great surprise, I was tweeting like mad and getting replies and retweets too!
The most wonderful thing about these sessions is the exchange of information and names of books, why it is someone’s favourite, which perspective they like and so on. The topics selected are also well thought out, with ample scope to expand on them during the discussion.
The tweets are all fresh and unique and often witty in the extreme. There is friendly banter, leg-pulling and easy camaraderie, even as books and their merits and demerits are discussed. We find others liking what we tweet and retweet, even as we do the same and favourite the replies. However, the best thing is finding so many new people to follow and visit their blogs. With tweeple from across the globe taking part, it is an even more enriching experience.
The topic on that first session which I had joined so dramatically was Books and Films and the questions ranged from the best and worst adaptations to whether one read a book before or after watching its adaptation and so on. We hastily made notes to read/watch a particular work and shared more info on them. By the time I tweeted my reply or a comment, there would be dozens more waiting to be read. It was like an avalanche, no less!
Folks, before I proceed I have to go on a tangent and make a confession about the one book I talked about earlier. I love books of all types with special liking for young adult fiction and travel books, but there is one that is so special that I can bring it into any discussion. That book is The Outsiders (TO)! My favourite book? TO. The book you’d love to be stranded on an island with? TO. The best film adaptation of a book? TO.
Why, I could have even brought it into the discussion of Ramayana, which was the topic on one of the sessions. Let me explain:
Ramayana has four brothers of whom Shatrughna is the silent and invisible one, so in effect making them just three brothers. In The Outsiders, there are three brothers who are very close to each other a la the Ramayana brothers. The former fight wars, the latter have rumbles and both fight against the baddies. The oldest brother is the straightforward one in both….Ram and Darryl. I could go on and on. But back to the TSBC#
The one on Ramayana was among the best I have participated in till date, probably because we all know so much (?) about the epic. After going through questions like the various adaptations, perspectives and versions, the final question came up. ‘Give the story of Ramayana in a tweet.’ That one was a challenge. While I was racking my brains, there was an avalanche of tweets (so what is new?) And there was @Pentropy, who had been in his elements that day and he came up with this gem: Kheer se paida hue 4 veer, chalaye unhone teer, sita le gaya ravan, mamla hua gambhir, ravan ko diya cheer, aise the woh shoorveer. Little wonder that the tweet won him that day’s book giveaway!
Some of the others who have won books in the TSBC so far are @Modern_Gypsy, @IndiaBckpckMoto, @BannokiSaheli, @1morepageplease, @santoreeves and @thecybernag. Yes folks, I was declared the winner in the last session of TSBC! Can you believe it? Someone who thought she could not tweet to save her life, was actually a winner on a Twitter group discussion!
The popularity of the TSBC can be gauged from the fact that it trends every week near the top and last Sunday was trending above even the Tiger! And for those in the western hemisphere and others who are not able to join it live, there is a Facebook page too, where the questions of the week and other information are posted.
It is a fun group. Why don’t you join the discussions this Sunday?
Pics on homepage and this page: Swati Maheshwari