By Kulpreet Yadav.

Writers-Retreat-Te-Aroha

George Orwell said: ‘Good writing is like a windowpane.’ This quote has stayed with me ever since I read it as a child. It has a powerful message, and if you are prepared to pause and reflect, you will realise how profound this statement is.

Last week, as one of the invited writers at the Writer’s Retreat, organized jointly by Te Aroha, a boutique hotel in the Himalayas at Dhanachuli, and the Literature Studio, an organization that mentors aspiring writers, this quote by George Orwell echoed from all directions. An hour’s drive from Nainital, nestled on a mountain slope that supports, with apparent pride, the Pine, Oak, Deodhar and Rhododendron trees, every window at Te Aroha that I looked out from, inspired a different story during my five-day stay.

Along with the fifteen writers, poets, artists and creative-writing-contest winners who were at the Retreat, curated passionately by a team of literature enthusiasts, I enjoyed everything from the energy of the discussions and the charged atmosphere of the venue, to, the distinctiveness of our collaborative thoughts that were fostered over good food and wine. Of course there were dissents, friendly arguments, intuitive banter and reflective opinions from experts on all things writing and publishing, yet everyone gravitated, on the penultimate day, to a common ground that Te Aroha should play a more important role by taking these collective thoughts to a whole new level. But the question was how.

Finally when the decision came, it was with unanimity of those present. Te Aroha will be the setting for another chapter to promote the written word and will host a festival for writers called the Kumaun Literary Festival from 4-8 Nov 15.

Outside of the Retreat, we took foot trails through the woods, discovered unmanned temples, spotted local birds, stepped aside to allow the village boys to slide down the sloping roads on homemade planks-on-wheels, soaked in the sight of snow-capped Nanda Devi range, collected pine cones, and breathed in the cool mountain air.

A hub of all things creative, it was also fascinating to spend some time in the Museum located within the Te Aroha. At the moment it is being expanded to display more from the huge collection that Mr. Sumant Batra, the owner of Te Aroha and a passionate art collector, has acquired over the years.

Though the Writers Retreat ended last Friday, the anticipation of participating in the festival next November is enough for me to hold on to the dreams we nurtured as a group tucked in this heavenly resort at 7000 feet, looking through the windowpanes of our lives.

The magical world of Te Aroha is a story in itself, one that inspired me here to share my experience with the readers of Open Road Review.

 

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One of the leading fiction writers in India, Kulpreet Yadav retired voluntarily from the armed forces to pursue a career in writing in 2014. Also a motivational speaker now, he has spoken at 150+ schools, colleges, and global corporate brands during the last three years. Popular for his Andy Karan series, his latest spy novel is called Murder in Paharganj (Bloomsbury India). Kulpreet lives in Delhi.