Friday, June 16, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 11-06-2017)

The coming of the rains and the Ramzan season changed things at the Sunday book market at Abids. For one it has become much cooler and for the first time I did not wear the cap while out at Abids. Then the usual stores were open for Ramzan shopping and so the second hand booksellers moved out of their usual spots before store fronts to other spots in Abids. Luckily, it did not rain and I wanted to take advantage of it and look keenly for titles I wanted to buy.
But last Sunday I wasn’t as lucky as I was the past few Sundays and couldn’t find a single title worth buying. However, at Chikkadpally on the way home I found a good copy of ‘The Best American Essays- 2011’ edited by Edwidge Danticat. The copy I found was almost brand new and I felt lucky to have spotted it. I got it for just sixty rupees which was a steal considering there are twenty four essays by some of the best writers in America and that were published in various publications in the year.

In the list of twenty four writers I could recognize only four names- Christopher Hitchens, Pico Iyer, Chang-Rae Lee, and Zadie Smith. The rest were names I was not familiar with. However, I am looking forward to reading all the essays in it soon. Since Sunday I’ve managed to finish reading three essays and strangely, all of them were about death. Katy Butler’s ‘What Broke My Father’s Heart’ was a candid essay about her father’s last days that had me thinking about where medicine was taking us.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 4-6-17)

Last Sunday at Abids I found a wonderful gem. I found a beautiful copy of ‘Signatures: One Hundred Indian Poets’ an anthology some of the best poetry by some of the best poets in all Indian languages that is edited by K. Satchidanandan. I was thrilled to spot this NBT book on the pavement while browsing for good titles to pick up. Some days the gems simply turn up before you and it was one such day when this book came into view. I picked it up the moment I saw it absolutely certain that it would contain some wonderful stuff. Nowhere can you find so many poems written by so many poets in so many languages. I got it for just fifty rupees whereas the original price of this NBT publication is seventy rupees.
I am sure anyone can get copies of this title though it was published in 2000. I felt so happy finding it that I did not bother to look carefully for other treasures that I might have found had I been attentive. I do not mind it having found just what I needed.

There are hundreds of poems by hundred poets in twenty languages in this book. Some of the poets includes those I am familiar with Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, Nissim Ezekiel, Sitakant Mahapatra, Jayanta Mahapatra, Keki Daruwallah, Sri Sri, A.K. Ramnujan, Kamala Das, Keki N. Daruwallah, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Balakrishnan Chullikad. But missing are Gieve Patel, Adil Jussawalla and others. However, there are so many poets in other languages I do not know and who I am eager to read.

This is a real treasure that I found.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 28-05-2017)

Overnight the weather changed in Hyderabad last week from being oppressively hot to pleasantly cool. A heavy downpour on Saturday night brought in pleasant weather on Sunday with clouds shutting out the sun. For the first time this summer I felt it not necessary to wear a cap while browsing at Abids. The pleasant Sunday morning was topped with a good haul for me that consisted of just one book but it was a mouth-watering title.

Camellia Panjabi is a familiar name in the culinary world. Though I have a fair idea about some of the good and well known culinary classics I had no idea that Camellia Panjabi authored a cookbook. The Sunday before I had spotted ’50 Great Curries of India’ by Camellia Panjabi at one of the sellers who occupies the pavement in the Hollywood shoes lane at Abids. It was a large, hard cover volume by Rupa publishers with a beautiful cover and even more beautiful pictures of mouth-watering dishes inside. I was sorely tempted to buy it right away but the price written in pencil in one of the inside pages deterred me. I put it back without even bargaining with the seller thinking I’d buy it the next Sunday.

Last Sunday however I decided to buy it after I found it after a brief but frantic search for it. I turned out to the first buyer so the seller was eager to make his first sale. I took advantage of the sentiment of the sellers about not turning away the first sale and asked for a pretty low price. I knew it was a bit unfair to take such an advantage. However, in the end I got it for a price that we both were happy with.
’50 Great Curries of India’ is aimed mainly at the British who are fascinated with Indian curries. It was worth a lot more than what I paid for the book because it had a wonderful introduction by Camellia Panjabi along with recipes for fifty mouth-watering dishes. While flipping through the pages I was stumped by a dish that was from my state. It was a chicken dish the recipe for which was given to the author by the wife of a former Chief Minister of the State when it was a combined State. Incidentally, the Institute where I am posted now happens to be named after him

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 21.05.2017)

Though it was forecast that the day would be very hot in the city I dutifully turned up at Abids last Sunday. It turned out to be one of the hottest days I had seen this summer with the sun blazing down as early as eleven in the morning. No one in his right mind goes out when it is so hot but I just couldn’t sit at home and think about all the titles I would miss spotting. In the end it turned out to be a good haul of three nice titles.
The first find was near the café where we have tea before we set out. I like to read Robert B. Parker’s Spenser titles and I have almost all the titles. Last Sunday I spotted an unusual Parker title-‘Love and Glory’ that wasn’t the type of books Robert B. Parker writes. It was a romance and the cover was quite enticing and I ended up buying it for thirty rupees.
The second find of the day was another wonderful book. I found the screenplay of ‘Taxi Driver’ by Paul Schrader. It was with another seller who has his wares just beside the café. Normally he quotes high prices but somehow he asked for only forty rupees for ‘Taxi Driver’ which I thought was quite low and so I bought it without a second thought.
Since a long time I am in the habit of jotting titles of books I come across in articles or other books that sound interesting. One such title that I had jotted down a very long time back, more than a decade or so, was ‘Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English?’ by Edward Behr. I do not remember now where I had come across this title but I remembered the title because it so outrageous. I spotted this book with a seller who has hundreds of books spread out on low tables placed on the pavement and that he sells for twenty rupees. I picked it up feeling amazed that at Iast I had found a book I had read about long, long ago.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another Delhi Haul (on 16-05-17)

Last week again I was in Delhi. Unlike the earlier visit not more than ten days ago when I had gone there to attend a training course this time I was there to attend a meeting. Then again unlike the earlier trip that was five days last week’s trip was for only two days. On the five day trip I hauled in five books and on this two day trip I hauled in only one title and it was one that I had missed buying on the earlier trip.

On the earlier trip though I had been to the Oxford Book Store in Connaught Place where I love to hang out, I had returned without buying a wonderful title that I had spotted. It was ‘Naiyer Masud: Collected Stories’ edited and translated by Muhammad Umar Memon. The size of the book and also its price had deterred me from buying it though I had been keen to buy it. It was also something I regretted after returning to Hyderabad without it. I had wondered if I’d get a chance to buy this book. Even as I was contemplating ordering it online just a week after I had returned I was asked if I’d like to Delhi again. The question was popped on Sunday and I had to leave on Monday. I couldn’t say no because the meeting I was going there to attend was a national level meeting and promised to be something really good.
Anyway, suffice it to say the Union Home Minister found it important enough to inaugurate the meeting on the first day. I was glad I had agreed to go at such short notice because I learnt quite a bit and got an idea of how the real experts view something and come to the core of anything. It was an eye opener since I had thought I knew all there was to learn about the subject. The meeting I attended was the second meeting of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that was held at the sprawling Vigyan Bhawan, just a stone’s throw away from where I was staying- the Telangana Bhavan.

I had planned to return on the second day after the meeting ended. My flight was sometime after nine in the night and I had a few hours to kill before starting for the airport. I decided to go to CP and pick up the Naiyer Masud title I had seen at OBS. When I went to OBS I was relieved to see that the book was at the same spot where I had seen it on my earlier visit. It was nine hundred rupees but I did not mind the price.
‘Collected Stories’ has thirty five stories in five sections. In the first section titled ‘SEEMIYA (THE OCCULT) there are five stories: Obscure Domains of Fear and Desire, The Colour of Nothingness, Snake Catcher, Seemiya (The Occult) and Resting Place.

In the second section titled ‘ESSENCE OF CAMPHOR’ there are seven stories: Epistle, Janus, Sultan Muzaffar’s Chronicler of Events, Jarga, Interregnum, Essence of Camphor, and The Fifth Saasaan.

The third section- THE MYNA FROM PEACOCK GARDEN- has these stories: Ba’i’s Mourners, The Chief Accountant of the Pyramid, Nosh Daru, Lamentation, Remains of the Ray Family, Custody, Dead End, The Myna from Peacock Garden, Occult Museum, and Sheesha Ghat.

GANJEFA the fourth section has these stories: Ganjefa, The Big Garbage Dump, Weathervane, Allam and Son, The Successor, The Stone with Sacred Names, The Librarian, Destitutes Compound, Hounded, and Afflictions.

The last section titled MISCELLANEOUS has three stories: Dustland, The Aster, and Whirlwind. At the end of the book is an interview the translator, Muhammad Umar Memon had with the author, Naiyer Masud. It is a big book with six hundred and sixty two pages and bigger than an ordinary brick, more like one of those modern cement bricks.

Last December, at the Hyderabad Book Fair, I had found a copy of ‘Snakecatcher’ by Naiyer Masud and had got it for about hundred rupees. It had eleven stories and I was not surprised that all these stories are in ‘Collected Stories.’ Of course, the translator was Muhammad Umar Memon and the publisher too was Penguin. I’ve made a plan to read one story from this collection every day but I don’t know when I will put the plan into action. Until then I am just content looking at this wonderful book I had the good fortune to find.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 14-05-2017)

There’s seems to be no end to my lucky streak finding good titles at Abids on Sunday mornings. Once again last Sunday I ended up with a good title in the haul. Though I found only good title it made me very glad coming across it unexpectedly. Actually, I found two titles and the second title was a cookbook which exactly doesn’t qualify as literature though it is no less entertaining. I found my third Adil Jussawalla title last Sunday at Abids. Coincidentally, I was going through the poems, one a day, in ‘Trying to Say Goodbye’ the collection I found very recently.
The first find at Abids last Sunday was ‘Dakshin Delights’ by Sanjeev Kapoor, the famous TV Chef who makes whipping up tasty dishes as easy as swallowing water. In the recent past I’ve found quite a few cookbooks by him and this was another good title that I picked up without a second thought because it was a hardcover and was in very good condition. I got it for only fifty rupees when the original price is two hundred and ninety five rupees.

After spending sometime in the café drinking tea alone and leafing through ‘Dakshin Delights’ I continued on the next leg of the usual circuit of the pavements of Abids. In one corner I spotted a book with a cover in beautiful dark blue and took it out to check the title and got a pleasant shock. It was a copy of ‘Maps for a Mortal Moon’ by Adil Jussawalla. I have been reading him since I was a teenager trying to be a poet.
‘Maps for a Mortal Moon’ (subtitled Essays and Entertainments) is edited by Jerry Pinto who wrote a wonderful introduction to Adil Jussawalla- his work, his persona, and a bit of his life. The present volume is a collection of Jussawalla’s poems, prose, articles and essays on sundry topics including essays on writers, writing, and reading which are three things that never fail to interest me. In fact there is a short essay on the pleasures of writing with pencils and fountain pens that was the first essay I read eagerly. I am eager to read the rest of the book that contains many, many interesting essays on diverse subjects. However, I do want to write more about this wonderful book in detail in a separate post that I want to do very soon. By the way, I got this book for just a hundred rupees which is a pittance compared to what is inside the book. Lucky me.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 7-5-17)

Since the beginning of this year I’ve been finding quite a number of books on my trips to Abids on Sundays. But the haul has been quite bountiful in the past week with the trip to Delhi yielding a haul of five titles and another four titles at Abids last Sunday. With this haul of four titles the total number of books that I’ve bought so far this year is now sixty four! However hard I am trying to cut down on my book buys I am unable to restrain myself. I don’t know what the total haul this year would be and I sincerely hope I don’t create any new records.
Last Sunday it wasn’t so hot at Abids so I did a leisurely amble at Abids. Since a long time I’ve been looking for a good copy of ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl S. Buck. I had read it when I was a kid just out of high school when I wasn’t exactly mature enough to take the book in. I wanted to read it but I did not have a copy. I had seen a few copies in the second hand bookstores but they were priced too high so I waited until I could find a copy at Abids. Last Sunday at last I got a decent enough copy for just twenty rupees. I want to read it when it starts raining and the farming activity begins here.
The second find was a cookbook classic that I had been reading about in almost all the ‘must have’ lists of chefs in India. I wasn’t really looking for ‘Tiffin’ by Rukmini Srinivas or expecting to find it but at Abids last Sunday I was in for a pleasant shock. I found a really good copy of Tiffin’ by Rukmini Srinivas that I got for only hundred rupees. I was quite surprised to read that it was published in 2015! I had thought it was published long, long back but anyway I am glad I found this wonderful memoir-cum-cookbook.
Another good find was ‘We Need New Names’ by NoViolet Bulawayo that I had read about recently. It was on the short list for the Booker Prize in 2013. I was very excited finding this title at Abids that is getting to be a bigger treasure house than I’ve thought it to be. I got this book too for a hundred rupees which was a bit too high for Abids standards.
In a heap of books before the Bata store there were many brand new titles selling for just twenty rupees. I spotted three Le Carré titles and Ross Macdonald’s ‘Twilight at Mac’s Place’ that I wanted to buy but did not. Instead I picked up ‘The Hunted’ by Elmore Leonard. It was a beautiful copy and I was glad I bought it though I already have a copy of the same title at home.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Delhi Haul

For us in the Government, depending on where one is posted, in the districts or the capital and also depending on the department one is working in, sometime or the other one has to make a trip to the national Capital. Just a year back when in a different posting I used to go to Delhi at the drop of a hat. In the five and half years that I was in that posting I must have made at least thirty or more trips to Delhi. After I got out of that department I did not travel to Delhi for more than a year. My last trip to Delhi was in January last year. After more than a year I got the opportunity to travel to that national Capital. Unlike the short trips I made earlier this time I spent five days at Delhi. Last week I was in Delhi attending a training programme in an institute near ITO. On a couple of days I went looking for books in the evenings.
My first foray was on Tuesday when I decided I’d check out Connaught Place. I went to the New Book Land on Janpath. I had read recently that it was set up by someone originally from Hyderabad. At this stall I found a copy of ‘Why I Write’ a collection of essays by Saadat Hasan Manto translated by Aakar Patel from Urdu into English. Though the price at the back was Rs… I got it for two hundred rupees. It was a new book and I was glad the Delhi haul had begun with a wonderful title. However, I couldn’t locate a second hand seller- Anil Bookstore- who is said to be somewhere near the C Block. The last time too I was unsuccessful in locating him so I gave up and went to the pen seller beside Regal cinema. He showed me a Guider that was exorbitantly priced. I opted for a Pilot that someone had gifted me earlier. I had returned it because I felt it was too light for my taste. I picked up the same pen but a cherry red colored one that I got for seven hundred and fifty rupees. It had a F nib that I got changed to a M.
Next stop was the Oxford Book Store. There were more people in the café than in the actual store looking at the books. I too went around checking out the titles but couldn’t find any worth buying. I saw a collection of stories by Naiyer Masud that I wanted to buy but didn’t. It was a thick tome and though the price was something I could afford I did not buy it because of the space it would take. Now I wonder if I had made a mistake not buying it. I do have a Naiyer Masud title that I found recently but I think I should have bought it. Anyway, that was the haul on my first outing looking for books in Delhi.
The next foray was on Thursday. On my way to visit my younger brother I stopped at Nehru Place. I had thought I’d check out Nanda’s Bookstore that I had been to on my earlier visits and maybe pick up a good title. I was surprised to find that the bookstore had closed down and something else had come up in its place. It made me quite upset when I couldn’t find one of those sellers who usually sell the books in the open. I was dejected and was preparing to leave when I spotted a tall stack of books stuck in between two stalls selling clothes. I felt like I had spotted an oasis in a desert. It was difficult to take a look at the titles since the books were so precariously stacked that if one book came loose then the whole stack would collapse. The seller, an elderly gentleman with a shock of white hair assured me he wouldn’t mind if the books fell down.
When the seller told me that I could pick any title for just fifty rupees I looked around the stack and managed to find four good titles.
The first title I found was ‘Other People’s Trades’ by Primo Levi. It was a small book and seemed a wonderful find. The next find was ‘The Condemned Playground’ by Cyril Connolly. I hesitated to buy it wondering if I’d be able to digest this high-brow stuff written by one of the foremost critics of his time. I decided to buy it and added it to my kitty. Then I went around to the back of the stack and spotted ‘Love and Summer’ by William Trevor. I remember I had picked up the same title some time ago at the Hyderabad Book Fair but I bought it anyway. I’ve read his ‘The Story of Lucy Gault’ and I did not need much convincing about buying ‘Love and Summer.’ I also have his ‘Felicia’s Journey’ that I found some time back at Abids I guess.
The last find was a copy of ‘Moon Tiger’ by Penelope Lively that the seller had to prise out from the bottom of the stack. It is a title that won Penelope Lively the Booker Prize in 1987 and that made me pick up this book. I have a few titles of Penelope Lively including a short story collection. This title completed the haul of five books I picked up at New Delhi last week. This was the second thing that made me feel glad about the trip the first being seeing my mother and my younger brother’s family.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 23-04-2017)

For the world April 23 might be World Book Day but for me every Sunday is a Book Day. This year World Book Day fell on a Sunday when I make my weekly visit to the Sunday book bazaar at Abids which made it all the more reason to buy more books. Since the beginning of this year I’ve been consistently lucky in finding good titles at Abids almost every Sunday. The previous Sunday I had found ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon, a mammoth book with nearly nine hundred pages. Last Sunday too I found two good books that I got cheap.
The first find was another cookbook to add to my growing collection of such books. I found a beautiful copy of ‘The Harekrishna Book of Vegeterian Cooking’ containing more than a hundred vegetarian recipes printed on glossy paper. It is a high quality book that I was glad I found and got for just fifty rupees. However I do not know when I will find use for it. So far I haven’t found use for any recipe book that I have bought over the years except on a couple of occasions.
The other book Uma spotted. It was a beautiful copy of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ by Ross Macdonald, one of my favourite crime fiction writers. I do not remember if I have this Ross Macdonald title in my collection but I bought it nevertheless. After flipping through the first few pages I realized that I haven’t read the book before so I bought it. It was in a good condition so I did not mind paying the sixty rupees the seller asked for it.
So that was how the World Book Day was for me.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 16-4-2017)

It was quite hot last Sunday. I knew it would be because that was the forecast I read in the morning news. If I knew any better I should have stayed home but I did not. Nothing can stop me from going to Abids on Sundays, not rain, not sun. Anyway on that hot Sunday I ended up with two cool finds.
The first find was ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’ by Siegfried Sassoon that I picked up from a heap of books selling for twenty rupees. I picked it up though I had not read anything about by this author and only knew that Siegfried Sassoon was a name I had read about earlier a long time back. It appeared like a good read so I felt glad I found this title.
The second find was a bumper one. I almost missed it but I spotted this massive tome at the last minute. I found ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon that I had read about somewhere I cannot recollect now. It was a thick book almost nine hundred pages and was thicker than a brick. I don’t know when I will find the time to read it but I definitely plan to read it someday. Interestingly this too seemed a war book. I got it for only fifty rupees. It needs a little fixing up because the cover had come loose and was kept in place by two strips of tape.