08 Mar

There are many phrases that undeniably praise the virtues of a well-read person and all that begins with the power of words. Words of impact and words of change, impressed upon the human mind by cultivating the habit of reading.

A well read person is never frustrated,

A bibliophile is never lonely,

A book lover never complains,

A bibliomane is never bored,

A bookworm is never misguided.

In short, get the book, read and lead a happy life.


On a side note, this should've been the mantra for tackling the pandemic from the start. A simple, effective and workable solution! 

Well, there is one person who motivated such a thought last year with her idea and then a swift implementation of Helsingborg's first open and free library. In the repertoire of adjectives very commonly attributed to women, 'nurturer' and 'caregiver' are often used within a familial realm. What we many times fail to realize is that these same qualities can have a far-reaching, constructive & societal impact. For her this was 'the best way to connect to my new city'. Read the story of the woman, in her very own words, behind this small but brilliant idea. Take a bow, Punit Karnik Thorat.

Punit Karnik was and will always be a simple, ordinary, middle-class Maharashtrian, with her feet always on the ground, thanks to the upbringing. My life revolved around my tiny suburb - my real cocoon (Mulund [East] to be exact precise), in the city of dreams, Mumbai. 

Mumbai commands that you dream big and so I did. I wanted to be a news reporter, even if it meant giving the weather forecast and went ahead and studied journalism through college and university. But life threw a curve-ball and the corporate bug bit me real hard! Public Relations became my bread and butter. From a job that I got through Orkut (oh yes, I am old) to a job that I gave my blood, sweat, sleepless nights and maternity leave, PR was my second skin till Sweden happened. 

Talking about family, did I tell you..I have a National Award winning father to look up to!! Some shoes are best left unfilled!! 

Moving to Sweden

The daughter and I reunited with the  husband in the summer of 2016. He was a few months old in a lesser heard city called Helsingborg near the Danish border Initially toured as a temporary move, it's been a decent 5 years that we have made Helsingborg 'our new home'. 

The Initiative - Det Lilla Biblioteket

While 2020 will be best remembered or rather forgotten for the year that was….it will always have a special place in my heart and thankfully it has nothing to do with the pandemic. The year 2020 gave me respect, a little bit of recognition but most importantly reigniting my decades old love for books and the city's first ever open, free library took form at Furutorpsparken

The city of Helsingborg started Söderscen, as part of the safety initiatives at Furutorpsparken, south of Helsingborg. In March 2020, Söderscen opened up their doors to submitting potential ideas to be carried out at the park. Luckily, I was the first one to submit my idea on the very next day the project started. What started as a mere idea eventually saw  light of the day on a warm June evening when Det Lilla Biblioteket opened it's cozy, quaint doors to the city I cannot thank Söderscen for funding the project and Ett Hem Att Trivas I (A home to thrive in), a Malmö based non- profit working for social inclusion through arts, design and architecture. Had it not been for Emir and his team, the project would have been extremely challenging for I had to hunt down skilled workers to give shape to my design. It was Sally Russell of Helsingborg International Connections that came to my rescue and introduced Emir. Everything just fell in place after that. 

Transcending the power of words

I always thought that libraries and naturally books have the capacity to connect people. Books have a very special place in my heart and this passion drove me further into the project. So, what better than having easy access to a small but well-stocked library in your neighbourhood or in a park. Isn't it a great example of diversity and social inclusion? I hope that more and more residents can take advantage of the library. I would encourage everyone to donate the books that you may not require anymore. You never know your small gesture may brighten up someone's day. Plus, this way, one can do their tiny bit for the society.

 I would say, the kid's books are definitely the most sought-after ones. Also, through this medium, I would request everyone to respect the sanctity of the space by looking after it as if it's their  own. 

Message for Women's Day

Never doubt your capabilities..you never know what is in store for you beyond your comfort zone. Play along your instincts, live your dreams and soon enough, one day, the glass ceiling may come down crackling!! 

Editor's Note: Spare some time and make sure you pay a visit - pick up a book from the library to read or donate a book and then some. The library is at Furutorpsparken, Helsingborg.

Pallavi Panicker for Indians Tillsammans
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