This post had contributing elements for the Cisco Book Club in Bangalore.

After completing a year at Cisco, I was asked at my Early in Grade (EIG) farewell party, “What would you do if you were the CEO of Cisco?” Without a second thought I replied, “Build a library on campus!”

Right from the day I had started at Cisco until that very moment I knew we had many luxuries on our Bangalore Campus, but still I felt – a library is missing!

Imagine if the breaks in between our busy work schedules transported us to a different century, a different realm, a different mindset. You could experience all that simply from a tiny room filled with books! You could walk in, grab a book from the shelf, get yourself a cup of hot coffee, put on some soothing music and sit on a bean bag, reading. Perhaps you could even discuss the book or listen to people sharing different ideas. Sounds like a book lover’s paradise, doesn’t it?

After brooding over that very day dream for a long time, I finally found others that were seeking a similar vision. I met Viva, who had a personal library in his cabin, but there were too few people around him who actually borrowed the books. After enjoying many book-related discussions between ourselves, he suggested starting our very own Cisco book club, and introduced me to Ram – another fellow book lover.

Now, here we are; from varied employee groups and with unique personal journeys within Cisco; assembled at a ‘Chai point’ in our wonderful Cessna campus in Bangalore. Looking around the table, we realized that we were a diverse group too – having members from Gen Z, Gen Y and Gen X! It was even reflected in the color of our hair – black, grey and ‘none’. 😊 All of us were gathered with a single commonality – a passion for reading.

After casual introductions, we began our discussion on the book amidst the puzzling eyes of others at adjacent tables, who had no clue of what we were up to. What fascinated me the most was how our professional titles, differences and identities melted away as the discussion progressed.

Everyone shared their perspectives and thoughts, irrespective of their years of experience, which was a true representation of Cisco culture. The viewpoints were absolutely fresh and showed me new ways of interpreting the same story. There was one specific perspective which blew me away as a member associated the non-human characters in the book with human genders! It made me marvel at the imagination of my fellow readers and also sparked my dormant brain cells.

Our group gradually grew as more members joined by word of mouth. Now, we have a diverse, colorful bunch of people. Some, like Aakriti and Sanjana, are always too eager to finish the book, while others like Meena and Zile, are calm, imaginative and take their time reading. Akhil and Viva, are bold and expressive, while Krati is creative and passionate. Imagine the conversations that happen when these people come together! This is what all of us look forward to – an opportunity to not just read interesting books, but to have an inspired debate with varied opinions, where everybody wins.

We completed our fourth book at the end of February and eagerly began discussing books for upcoming months. We are proud of covering multiple genres consciously, to cater to the interests of all our members. Time permitting, we love to discuss characters from the book in depth, debating on whether their reactions in the context were realistic or not.

We even have a vision to build and maintain a library at our Cisco campus – ‘BooksCo’ (read like ‘Cisco’), which will make books more accessible to not only our book club, but also to the entire Cisco community in Bangalore. Moreover, it will add another hue to our already vibrant life at Cisco – all bookworms are most welcome to join us in realizing this vision!

As J.K. Rowling says, ‘If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book yet’. That is something I believe as well, and I am so happy to have found others at Cisco that share this same sentiment. 😊

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Vishakha Gupta

Network Consulting Engineer – Customer Delivery

Strategic Assurance