Brick pillars, books, coffee, readings, savouries and more are part of Atta Galatta at 5th block Koramangala. Inspired by Chettinad heritage homes, in the five years since its inception, Atta Galatta has grown from book store to arts retreat with book and poetry reading sessions, launches and art initiatives.
“Our activities are related to books, poetry and performance arts that have a relaxed pace. It makes you feel comfortable,” says Lalitha Lakshmi of Atta Galatta. The red oxide floors and wood-coloured book shelves give a nostalgic feel to the place. “Pastoral pleasures also came by sitting on earthen floors and listening to your grandmother’s stories.”
Atta Galatta holds about a dozen events every week. Throughout the year art and book enthusiasts are seen flocking weekends with nearly 600 events happening every year. How did the idea of the book store come about for Lakshmi and her husband Subodh Sankar?
“We worked in Singapore for a brief time, and when we returned in 2012 we had an old house in Koramangala that we decided to put to better use. Those were days when several book stores wound up in the city due to the online boom. However, thanks to our literature background we still wanted to give it a try,” recalls Lakshmi.
Atta Galatta started with 10,000 books in English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Soon Lakshmi and Subodh realised that a book store is incomplete without activities connected to books. Gradually the couple held book launches and readings. “This had to have a combo of coffee and bakery delights,” says Subodh. “No book sessions can go on without the cuppa right?”
Atta Galatta does not charge for the releases or a reading sessions. After moving to a different premise, the book store got more space and more activities for both adults and children.
The collection of books of various genres and languages speaks volumes of the purpose of Atta Galatta. “In our attempt to make the highly-acclaimed books by Indian writers available to Bangaloreans, we have collaborated with the experts of regional languages and sought help from them to draw a list of books,” says Lakshmi.
“Our events too were limited to just one or two initially, but over the years our modest but homely and informal atmosphere has made people vie for the Atta Galatta space. And to have a book store full when there are a myriad entertainment avenues such as malls, cinemas and video games is heartening,” says Subodh.
From last year, there are children’s books in Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit books.
Apart from books and free WiFi, what adds to the signature personality of Atta Galatta? “I wonder if it is the three twisting pillars that add zing, or the dark floors, high ceiling and the huge coloured glass splashing sunlight?” says Lakshmi.
About the name, Lakshmi says, “With ‘Atta’ being the Kannada word for play and the Hindi word for dough and ‘Galatta’ referring to vociferous racket; the brand name Atta Galatta refers to fun and games, as well as our baked goodies,” she says.
Where we discover hidden and not so hidden nooks and crannies of the city
Bigger the better Atta Galatta has expanded to include more events like Let Poetry Be with budding authors and poets with thematic offerings and Yati-Gati a dance and music programme. Atta Galatta’s expanded spaces are the Poetry Fest and Lit Fest that has had the likes of Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Ruskin Bond take part. Atta Galatta on wheels travels with art, books and cultural programmes to Sarjapur Road and MG Road.
Bigger the better
Atta Galatta has expanded to include more events like Let Poetry Be with budding authors and poets with thematic offerings and Yati-Gati a dance and music programme. Atta Galatta’s expanded spaces are the Poetry Fest and Lit Fest that has had the likes of Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Ruskin Bond take part. Atta Galatta on wheels travels with art, books and cultural programmes to Sarjapur Road and MG Road.
The name is Bond
Ruskin Bond did his schooling from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, from where he graduated in 1950 after winning several writing competitions in the school including the Irwin Divinity Prize and the Hailey Literature Prize.