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Are You Lit? 2024. A Conclave of Literature, Art and meaningful conversations


Are You Lit? recently illuminated the halls of Courtyard by Marriot Gurugram, bringing together authors, start-up champions, artists, writers, and trailblazers from the food and travel industries. The two-day event celebrated Gurugram’s transformation from a sleepy town to a global culinary and travel destination.

City Magistrate (CTM) Kunwar Aditya Vikram inaugurated the event, symbolically lighting the ceremonial lamp. The inauguration also witnessed the presence of notable changemakers such as Gopal Namjoshi, a renowned muralist, Aditya Arya, a prominent photographer and founder of Museo Camera, author Ajit Menon and Anil Verma, Cofounders of Anaar Creations, and Yagya Dhingra, the young prodigy of literature igniting new age thinking.

“Are You Lit?” transcends literature; it embodies ideas and concepts that ignite passion and purpose. Co-founders Vishesh Prakash & Vineeta Jerath envision AYL as a platform to showcase real-life stories of inspiration and LIT ideas.

The North East Tales

The inaugural session, “More Than Hornbills, delved into the cultural richness of Northeast India, featuring distinguished personalities like Dr Achinglu Kamei, Hoihnu Hauzel Jasmine Patton, Kishalay Bhattacharjee, and Nikhil Alva. The discussion, led by Shibani Phukan, a senior professor at Delhi University, celebrated the diversity and heritage of the region.

Gurgaon to Gurugram, a Time Travel

Gurugram’s evolution as a culinary hub took centre stage as industry pioneers shared their insights. President’s Award winner Chef Ravitej Nath, Sanjay Mathur, the visionary behind Gurgaon’s first German brewery, and Pawan Soni, a corporate honcho turned food influencer, discussed the city’s gastronomic journey. Nehaa Singh, Assistant Vice President of Embassy Affairs, added her perspective on the city’s cosmopolitan lifestyle.

The event also explored the intersection of travel and history, with Dr Seema Anand Chopra, a travel blogger and author, unveiling lesser-known facts about famous destinations. Vanshika Ahuja, director of Karma Chalets, highlighted Gen Z’s unique approach to travel, emphasising sustainable tourism. Talking about sustainability and displaying the importance of slow fashion, was the fashion designer and green warrior Anuradha Prasad Dhawan.

The vibrant cultural scene of Gurugram came alive with discussions on ballroom dancing and music by Meenu Kumar an entrepreneur and dance enthusiast along with Aamir Ahmed Co-founder at Ballrumours DanceSport Studios. Arjun, the founder of Piano Man, a jazz bar that transformed the city’s nightlife and music, spoke about the new generation of the city’s becoming hooked on global music tastes. Renowned violinist Sharat and other cultural enthusiasts traced the evolution of music and dance in Gurugram.

Mayura Mathur and Dilpreet Kaur, the dynamic Sutradhaar duo, kept audiences engaged with their wit, charm, and quizzes all through the two day event.

The Journey of a Book

The second day, Heart to Shelf explored the journey of books, featuring discussions on publishing and storytelling. Vishesh Prakash, co-founder of AYL, moderated the session with industry experts Sayantan Ghosh, executive editor at Simon & Schuster IN, Ajay Jain, owner of Kunzum book store, and Ajit Menon, a corporate honcho turned author delving into the power of words and the challenges of the publishing industry.

The Startup Eco System

The second day was another captivating segment led by Rajesh Sawhney, the founder of GSF, known as the messiah of the startup circuit of Gurgaon. He was joined by Akshay Chaturvedi, Alok Mittal, and Sandeep Aggarwal, discussing redemption after the ‘Valley of Death.’

A heart-touching discussion on the start -up ecosystem was held with the under 20 start-up founders coming from lesser privileged backgrounds: Abhishek Kumar Thakur and Nikhil Singh shared their journey of dreaming big, the struggles that happen in the journey, and the importance of handholding, the investor who believes in their idea of making a change.

Exploring the tapestry of Hindustani language

Changing the flavour was Zaika Zuban Ka with Dr Payal Nagpal, the curator of the segment, celebrating the brilliance of Hindustani with poetry, music and narrations. Joining her were Hindi and Urdu authors and poetesses: Anjani Sharma, ‘Amrita,’ Rama Sundar Ranganathan, Prema Jha, Sandhya Garg, and Rehman Musswir. Sharing the flavours of organic tea and how tea drinking is an integral part of Indian culture was the owner of Eight Petal Lotus, Mamta Wadhwa, conversing with Vineta Jerath on the synergy of flavours with varied conversational moods and bodily requirements.

The event also emphasised the importance of nurturing young talent, with under-18 authors sharing their experiences. Radha Aurora, an academician, highlighted the significance of a balanced lifestyle for young writers.

Storytelling across mediums

The session curated dexterously by author Raisha Lalwani weaved storytelling nexus across diverse mediums. Anurag Anand presented visual storytelling through an artist’s lens, Author Ajit Menon connected with the love of print medium which has its own unbeatable charm igniting the readers’ imagination and Anil Verma narrated the magic of stories created on the silver screen.

The Experience of LIT

Sharing stories of ‘Lit people’ in their fields, AYL is a platform to bring real-life stories to light with inspiration. Doctors On Call was another panel that got the audience edgy. Discussing actual life incidences through a lens of social fabric were doctors Nimmi Rastogi, an author and senior gynaecologist and activist, Dr Roma Kumar, a Clinical psychologist, and Shweta Mathur Lal, a dentist. Dr Vandana Thakran, founder and owner of Mint Dental, finds joy in doing her bit for society. She is passionate about Karma clinics, where she treats underprivileged classes. She says, “Karma is the Lit factor that makes me sleep well at night.”

Workshop of change

The power-packed two days of AYL allowed the audience to attend free workshops by renowned coaches. Dr Prabhat Pankaj and Vasudhaa Madan’s Happiness workshop left many participants emotionally impacted and yearning for more tools to walk the path of contentment and happiness. Shikha Agarwal, an artist, gave an experience of art as a medium to heal.

The high-impact days at Courtyard by Marriot, Gurugram ignited a Lit movement and gave audiences a glimpse of literature, art, experiential life, stories, awe-inspiring individuals, book launches and more. With a promise to curate yet another heartening Lit event, the AYL co-founders have already started working on their next event.

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