I meet Lakshmi at her bookstore-café. She walks in with an approachable attitude and begins to talk with one of her colleagues in her mother tongue. Instantly the space ‘Atta Galatta’ reminds me that it is equivalent to everything Indian in language, culture, arts and ethos and that which accepts and encourages the modern entertainment forms in English language too.
Atta Galatta is also the space where a huge variety of cultural, literary and interesting events are hosted.
When I actually begin the conversation with Lakshmi on her journey in starting one of the most popular venue spaces in the city, Lakshmi shares, “I am from a small town near Thanjavur, Tamilnadu. I have been a single child and I spent my high school in Ooty in one of the convent schools like most households in Tamilnadu used to do for their children.
But I must mention that all the time I have spent at home, we had this huge neighbourhood which was like living in a community.
I was working in a completely different sector. This has been one of the dreams which thankfully got materialized. I just happened to talk about creating such an initiative to Subodh, my husband and sooner than I realized we had it in our hands and we had to make this work for us.
It started as a regional bookstore and still has retained that flavour. So apart from English books we have a dedicated section for regional languages including Kannada, Hindi, Tamil and so many more. We also have a separate section for children’s books.”
Lakshmi admits though with a vibrant space she is expected to talk to lot of individuals which she does yet given a choice, she loves to be with herself and be behind the curtains.
When asked on managing work and home life she says looking all around her venue space, “ This is my life and I love being here. I have really not demarcated how life should be at home or at work. For me both are interlinked and merged.”
Being a single child, Lakshmi mentions she too has a single child. Her daughter is growing to be an adult and sees the changes in her thoughts and the way she wants to lead her life. Lakshmi says, “She does come here sometimes when we have larger events or when we need more people to manage our work.”
As a bookstore owner Lakshmi shares, “Though the previous generation grew up on western author’s books, we do see now parents and moms who are at the bookstore with kids trying to pick books written by Indian authors. Perhaps it resonates with the language spoken at home. So I am presuming the kids today when they grow up will love to read books of all genres and appreciate Indian books written by Indian authors too.”
Being in a position where she gets to observe a lot of parent-child relationship she says, “ It is important for parents to push for reading as part of life. Also perhaps it is better to realize and value that childhood comes really once in our children’s lives. So I would say, it is worthy to participate in it wholeheartedly regardless of one being a working mom or a stay at home parent. The present generation kids most of them grow up on the idea of leaving the nest soon, so it is important to maximize one’s time to spend with them qualitatively.”
Mums and stories is glad to have featured Lakshmi and wishes her all the very best in life.
(Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and stories in conversation with Lakshmi Sankar)