Down Memory Lane: Once Upon a Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Party 📚

It was in 2015 that we held our first Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Party. Since is a book company and the founders are devoted readers, the idea was to get people to talk about the books they loved. Unlike a book club where the point of discussion is a single book, at this party, book lovers could choose any book. This made the parties supremely interesting. We had participants from all walks of life- scientists, engineers, start-up founders, lawyers, writers, creatives, colonels, bankers, students, some regulars, many newbies who discussed fiction and non-fiction, movies and food with gusto. Seldom were there awkward silences; sometimes there were even tears and heated discussions.

No genre was exempt. We discussed fiction, mythology, fractured fairytales, crime thrillers, vernacular language books, graphic novels and non-fiction books featuring science, history, poetry,  business and commerce, self-help, spirituality, etc. We also interviewed select participants.

The highlight of our BYOB Parties was the after party where Red Velvet cupcakes and dhokla were served.

Miss those parties! You can visit some of our Bring Your Own Books (BYOB) Party stories here.

What does ‘Pothi’ mean?

One of the most common questions we get asked.

First let me clarify all that it does not mean or refer to.

‘Pothi’ has nothing to do with the name of the famous silk shop in Chennai called ‘Pothys’.

During the book festival we learned that ‘Pothi’ is a caste/surname in Kerala. Our use of Pothi has nothing to do with that either. We are not a Pothi matrimony site, rest assured.

And it also does not mean grand-daughter in hindi. That one is ‘Poti’ (पोती) and not ‘Pothi’ (पोथी).

Pothi means ‘a book’ in Hindi. It has come from the Sanskrit word ‘Pustak’ distorted through Apbhransh and other languages that developed in North India. ‘Pothi’ or some variation of it means ‘a book’ in many other North Indian languages too including Punjabi and Bengali.

The word is not used in day to day spoken Hindi though. It is an obscure word now and is sometimes used to refer to old manuscripts or scriptures. Sikhs use this word to refer to their religious book. If you have studied Hindi at some point of time in your life and still can not place the word, the following couplet from Kabir may come in handy

पोथी पढ़-पढ़ जग मुआ, पण्डित भया ना कोय,
ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पण्डित होय।

Approximate Translation: Nobody becomes a learned person by reading lots of books. Those who just read the two and a half letters of love become the learned ones.

Although this couplet discounts the usefulness of books (and we don’t like that 🙂 ), but the reason I mention it here is that the word used for book in it is ‘Pothi’.

So next time you hear Pothi, think books – printed one at a time on demand just like the handwritten manuscripts of yore.