Just when the city is waking up from its afternoon siesta, a motley group of young men and women gather on the terrace of a building to share heart-to-heart talks on anything under the sun. There are no rules, all one needs to do is show up and talk about what is closest to their heart, perform music for the soul, share poetry that moves them — the platform offered by Soul Gatherings is anyone’s for the taking.
It was in September 2019 that a group of six like-minded friends – Kuna Sandeep, Anwesh Goda, Keerthana Poddaturi, Prayusha, Sravya Batta and Mahesh – decided to create an open group called Soul Gatherings for those who want to display the fruits of their creative imagination, sing songs that move them and share experiences that are relatable to some and entirely new to others.
Kuna Sandeep, one of the core team members, says, “Three of us had known about a similar group in Bengaluru, and decided to replicate the concept here. The group is open to everyone, to participate or attend as an audience. It is meant to be a safe space where people can share their life’s experiences without the worry of prejudice, judgement and fear.”
A session of Soul Gatherings lasts anywhere from two hours to four hours and the team charges a nominal amount from guests. “Each person gets a 15-min slot and we aim for 8 to 9 people per session. Apart from those who approach us, we also invite speakers from various fields to share their experience. One session we called entrepreneur Satwika Gupta, a 24-year-old college dropout with business dealings in 25 to 30 countries and another event we held at a timber depot as people don’t really go to such places. The owner of the depot shared how the business has been run by three generations of his family. It was such a success that the meetup which started at 6 pm ended at 10 pm and we had to finally make an announcement calling it a day,” recalls Sandeep.
Spontaneity is welcomed by the group, at previous meetups in cafes, people who had just dropped in for a cuppa have ended up sharing their struggles with cancer, depression and ordeals to a group of perfect strangers who are all ears. For many, the meetups have turned into networking opportunities too. Of course, with the random nature of the group, they do get the people who want to criticise and make inflammatory statements, but “we prevent it by a screening of the speakers beforehand”.