The launch of Really Really Free Markets, a concept based on sharing, saw people go home richer from the experience

It was a community statement on minimalism, on creating a society that didn't make or buy more stuff than what it absolutely needed. It was a fun way of recycling, of leaving a lower carbon footprint. And, it was done through an act that has always worked — sharing.

People walked in with stuff they once used but no longer needed — from bicycle pumps and clocks to much-read books and clothes. They left it on the tables lined up and walked out with what they liked from among the stuff stacked on the table by others. This marked the launch of Really Really Free Markets (RRFMs) in the country, and the city! Started in the U.S. in 2004, RRFM quickly spread around the globe, with the event now being a monthly occurrence in cities such as New York and Washington DC. “I came across this concept and discovered that many others liked the idea too,” explains the man behind India's first RRFM — Kiruba Shankar, CEO of Business Blogging and one of the founders of The Knowledge Foundation.

Friends such as Samuel Eddy, who works with a shipping firm, joined in. Eddy, in fact, arranged for a rent-free venue for the event. Word spread though a network of friends, and the event was flagged off last week.

The event saw a medley of people turn up — from Kiruba's five-year-old daughter Kalpitha (who walked in with her old stuffed toy and left with a clutch of comic books) to artists such as Saravanan K, art restorer Aparijitha, endurance cyclist Bharani Shivakumar, and Pradeep Saran, who is part of a live web casting firm.

By the end of the evening, tables that had got loaded with an assortment of stuff became mostly empty again. Everyone went home a little richer — with one less thing that needed to be bought from stores — and to houses a little less cluttered.

Inspired by this, Kaveer Rai, who dropped in from Bangalore just for the event, plans to start RRFMs in Bangalore.

RRFM is a market where stuff changes hands, but not money. And, not just things, there is a flow of skills too. For instance, social media consultant Sandeep Verma demonstrated the tricky kakasana yoga posture and even gave the assembled crowd a free class in yoga. Sudarsana Rao was there, sharing his thoughts and ideas about how each individual could contribute to positive social change.

There was a rich exchange of ideas, which is, perhaps, inevitable, considering the eclectic participants. And, best of all, the 25-odd people who turned up forged new friendships and discovered new worlds!

(The next session of RRFM is slated for December 26. Visit http://www.wateringhole.in/freemarket for the schedule)