By Sudha Mathew
Once in a rare while we are allowed a glimpse when something magical begins. Something like that happened to me when I attended Travellers Thursday on Thursday, 21st June in Bangalore. The venue was the open courtyard of an experimental community space called Jaaga. When I got there, the open to sky space had a few benches and plastic chairs arranged for guests. I was told that a travel film was to be projected on a white boundary wall. In a corner, there was a window that looked like it belonged to a Hobbit’s house with a sign above it proclaiming it the Courtyard Cafe. I put my head in and placed an order for a masala chai. Herbs had been planted between the flagstones of the courtyard and there were handwritten notices asking guests not to trample them. But once in a while someone would stamp on them and a heady smell of mint would tantalise my nose. While sipping on my chai, I wondered if this event would succeed regardless of the sincerity of the volunteers. But sixty-five people turned up despite threatening rain clouds and no advertising. Most of them had heard about it through word of mouth and Facebook. I was amazed to see a group of unrelated individuals peacefully adjust to the motley seating with no complaints and concentrate on a travel documentary without even one mobile phone ringing. I can’t remember the last time that happened!
The event started with a brief introduction about Travellers Thursday followed by a short travel film and ended with a musical session. The film “180 Degrees South – Conquerors of the Useless” was a feast for the eyes with glorious shots of surfers catching the wave in sparkling blue seas and heady views from forbiddingly high mountains. It also left me reflecting on the deeper ways in which travel changes people. After the movie, there was a banjo performance by Don Blagsvedt from the US who is visiting India. Once again I noticed that despite it being unfamiliar and kind of old-fashioned music from the mountains of Kentucky, the audience listened with respect to the music peppered with Don’s explanations. Afterwards some people stayed to chat and eat clustered by the café or sprawled on a bench. The vibe of the entire evening was mellow and social, oddly reminiscent of a time that was slower, with more time to smell the roses and have unhurried conversations. Somehow with a bit of planning, few resources and a handful of volunteers, this little event had created a spirit that surpassed those of much bigger events. But…there’s no fairytale ending yet. As it is entirely managed by volunteers, the challenge will be to consistently sustain the buzz and to make it a meaningful resource that is top of mind for travellers who live here and those visiting the city.
So in a nutshell, Travellers Thursday (TT) was conceived by a group of travel enthusiasts as an ongoing non-commercial event with no fixed format. The idea is to create a community of travel enthusiasts and encourage sharing of information and resources. A core group of volunteers look after logistics but anyone is welcome to join the group. It will be held on the third Thursday of every month at Jaaga at Double Road, Bangalore. Plans for future events include talks on destinations and experiences, inviting travellers passing through the city for the event, jam sessions and screening of short travel films. Each event will last about 2 hours from 7 pm – 9 pm with a little extra time for socialising post the event .
P.s. I loved the idea so I signed on as a volunteer
Useful links for event updates
Follow @travel_thursday or the hashtag #travelthurs