I had been trying to attend Tata Literature Live for the longest time, but to no avail. So when opportunity presented itself, totally gift-wrapped if I may add, in the form of a pre-event blogger interaction I jumped for it. But then Murphy would hear nothing of it. He hates competition, you know. So, he tried. And how! I almost did not make it because I was sleep deprived from celebrating a friend’s 40th the previous night till the wee hours of morn. Oh, but then just to snub that pompous fella, I decided the last minute to take the plunge. Zoe Cafe was far, far away but I made it, and that too with all the horrendous traffic that Bombay is rightly accused of.

As I made my way to the already overflowing venue, I was happy to see familiar faces. My fangirl moment happened when I was introduced to the Festival Director Mr. Anil Dharker. And even as we politely exchanged a few words, in my head I was running around screaming OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!! Well, we settled in symbiotic groups as we waited for the discussion on ‘Freedom of Speech’ to begin. All eyes were settled on Anil Dharker, Ravi Subramanian and Deepa Gahlot as the trio took the stage.

Tata Lit Live

The conversation veered towards how freedom of speech was restricted across political, religious and social spheres. With the rise in social media, the mob mentality took a new meaning altogether. Trolls became overnight celebrities and were willing to go to any lengths for their 30 seconds of fame. Media fanned the attention seeking and everything was breaking news. Sometimes, these threats went beyond verbal altercations and moved to physical threats and violence as well. Where does this stop? And then again when we speak of freedom of speech, don’t the trolls also have the right to voice their dissent? Well, a catch 22 for sure. And while some of us rallied for complete freedom of speech and few others felt that it ought to be monitored, I couldn’t help but think of Spiderman. Yes, with great power comes great responsibility. The fact is freedom is powerful and we need to understand that we are responsible for its use or misuse. And we need to know that our silence adds glamour to hooliganism. We need like-minded citizens to raise their voice against what they feel is wrong and make an example of the trolls that hide behind eggshells or political clout.

And while this heated discussion was taking various twists and turns, I had a moment of epiphany. I felt that every person that had blackened a face, shouted slogans against Simon or gleefully indulged in vandalism under the garb of protecting the nation ought to be sent to the borders. Let them fight where it really matters. Let all their inner heroes rise while Mariah Carey sings, or Salman Khan for that matter. Let them see what the nation really wants to know. Do they have it in them to really fight for this country? Or are they just mobs on rent for vote bank collection. I sincerely feel this will work. I remember a time when the Mumbai police managed to run a drive against drunk driving. If you were found drunk you were jailed, no questions asked. I have never seen so many people hire cabs or think of alternate transport in my lifetime. The day we enforce the laws for one and all equally, freedom of all sorts, including speech, will reign.

However, I digress. But this is what happens when you meet socially connected and intellectually wired people. Your mind heads off in a million directions because your intelligence has been stimulated and you can’t seem to get enough. And if you thrive on that kind of environment, Tata Lit Fest is LIVE today and all through this weekend. Check the schedule here as you can pick and choose venues and topics of your choice. A huge shout out to Edelman, Writers Melon and Cafe Zoe for bringing us bloggers together for an interactive session ( and the goodies). As long as the mind and stomach are satiated, good things will continue to happen. 🙂

So, Bombayites, am I seeing you at Tata Literature Live 2015? It is time to #BookmarktheWorld

Tata Lit Fest

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