Friday, May 25, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 20-05-2018)

Last Sunday, once again, I was alone at Abids and ended up finding four good titles on a morning when it wasn’t too hot to be outdoors. Though the sun was out it wasn’t uncomfortable with a cap on the head. The first title I found was a wonderful book. I spotted a nice copy of ‘Mother of 1084’ by Mahashweta Devi on the pavement and picked it up to take a look. I have come across a few copies of this title but hadn’t bought any for some reason. But last Sunday I decided to buy the copy I found. I don’t know when I will find the time to read but I will read it one day. I got it for thirty rupees.
Another interesting find was ‘The Use and Abuse of Literature’ by Marjorie Garber that I saw with another seller. I did not buy it right away and asked the seller to keep it aside. Luckily he did not have the change for the five hundred rupee note I had and I told him I would pick it up which would give me time to decide whether to buy it or not. But in the end I bought it for a hundred rupees.
The third find in the haul on Sunday was a copy of ‘The Song of Anasuya’ by Uma Vasudev. It appeared like one of those titles published in the sixties-seventies. It was a small sized, slim book not more than a hundred and fifty pages. I hadn’t heard of the author and thought it would be an interesting read and bought it for just thirty rupees.
The fourth and last find of the haul on Sunday was a book by an author I would have had an idea about had I been a keen follower of movies. The movie ‘Schindler’s List’ directed by Spielberg is a classic but I haven’t watched it. I know that’s stupid but now I know that the movie is based on a book of the same name written by Thomas Keneally, an Australian writer. Peter Carey, Helen Garner, and recently Ray Eriksen are some of the Australian writers whose books I had read but I wasn’t aware of Thomas Keneally until last Sunday. I was drawn to a book that I instinctively knew was a book worth picking up when I saw the attractive cover. It was a copy of ‘Season in Purgatory by Thomas Keneally that was with a seller who does not know the value of the books he sells. I got this wonderful title for just twenty rupees.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 13-05-2018)

It was neither very hot nor very cool but normal weather last Sunday in Hyderabad. It was good enough weather for a couple of hours browsing in the open at Abids. I had a friend along and that put me in a good mood which further improved after I spotted the first title in the haul. It was a mouth-watering title about something that every true blue Hyderabadi always dreams about twenty four hours of the day-Biryani. I found a nice copy of ‘Biryani’ by Pratibha Karan, a hardcover copy that I had to pay two hundred and fifty rupees to buy. I was surprised to read that Pratibha Karan is an IAS officer, now retired. The book had recipes of more than hundred types of biryani from all corners of the country. Though there doesn’t appear any chance for me to try out some of the recipes in the book I bought it just for the pleasure of owning a beautifully produced book.
Another wonderful find was a copy of ‘Cast Me Out If You Will’ by Lalithambika Antherjanam. I had read about Lalithambika Antherjanam a long time but haven’t read anything written by her. ‘Cast Me Out If You Will’ is a translation from the Malayalam and has an introduction by Gita Krishnankutty. It has a foreword by Susie Tharu and is divided into two parts. Part I has fourteen stories and Part II is the Memoir part with six essays.
These are the fourteen stories in ‘Cast Me Out If You Will’: The Power of Fate; In the Moonlight; The Goddess of Revenge; Admission of Guilt; Within the Folds of Seclusion; Wooden Cradles; The Devi and Her Devotee; Life and Death; A Leaf in the Whirlwind; ‘Come Back’; Daughter of Humanity; The Boon; Fulfillment; Dhirendu Majumdar’s Mother.
The last find was another interesting title. I found an ancient copy of ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by TE Lawrence that had a tape around its spine. I bought it when I read at the back that ‘No collection of modern classics would be complete without Seven Pillars of Wisdom.’ In one of the inside pages someone had scribbled his name and date which was September 7, 1963 which is about six months before I was born. The copy was around for fifty five years I realized after I bought it for eighty rupees.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 06-04-2018)

A few sharp showers in the evening sometime during the middle of last week helped a lot in bringing down the temperature for a couple of days. As a result of this last Sunday was not as hot it was the previous Sunday when the temperature had almost touched 42 degrees C. Though it wasn’t exactly pleasant on Sunday morning it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. This plus the fact that I was friendless helped me focus on the titles of books heaped on the pavements at Abids last Sunday. All this resulted in a wonderful four book haul that filled me with the joy that only people who love books feel on finding good books.
It was only after I had the chai all alone at our regular Irani cafĂ© that I found the first good title of the day. I spotted a nice copy of ‘Murder in the Kitchen’ by Alice B Toklas and picked it up for a closer look because the name Alice B Toklas rang a bell in my mind. ‘Murder in the Kitchen’ is described as a memoir-turned-cookbook at the back and since it was a combination (memoir + cookbook) I couldn’t resist buying it. Inside i read that Toklas had been a sort of companion to Gertrude Stein, and both hosted a salon that attracted Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Scott F Fitzgerald, Picasso, Matisse etc. Besides, the seller asked for only thirty rupees for this slim volume.
A very long time back I had picked up a book by Sandor Marai, the Hungarian novelist I had read about in J.M. Coetzee’s book of essays. It was in ‘Inner Workings- Essays 2000-2005’ that I had first read about Sandor Marai and subsequently found ‘Conversations in Bolzano’ after missing buying it the first time I saw it. At the bunch of sellers near the Head Post Office in Abids I spotted a copy of ‘Embers’ by Sandor Marai, the same book Coetzee had written about in detail. The translator was Carol Brown Janeway. I was careful not to show my excitement at finding it because the sellers could make it out and quote a high price. As expected he quoted the astronomical price of a hundred and eighty rupees. I asked for eighty rupees and walked away as if I was not very interested in the book. The gambit paid off since the seller called me and gave it at my price.
Not the last find of the day but the last find at Abids was a title I saw with the seller near Hollywood shoes. It was a beautiful copy of ‘The Long March’ by William Styron that I spotted moments before I had decided to call it a day at Abids and was about to get on my bike. It was only eighty eight pages long but I paid eighty rupees for it because I WANTED it. I have read Styron’s memoir of depression, ‘Darkness Visible’ and also a book of essays ‘This Quiet Dust and Other Writings’ but haven’t yet read his most famous work, ‘Sophie’s Choice’ that I plan to read one of these days. With three wonderful titles in the bag I started off for home thinking I had a great haul until I reached Chikkadpally. There I came across the find of the day.
At a seller at Chikkadpally I spotted a few old books and decided to take a closer look since it was here that I found some old Orient Paperbacks titles with glorious covers. I spotted a nice copy of ‘The Colossus of Maroussi’ by Henry Miller that appeared to have been published long back. I checked inside and found that it was originally published in 1941 and the copy I had was a 1963 reprint. I felt unusually happy finding this title and was quite surprised when the seller asked for only twenty five rupees for this wonderful book. Later at home I read inside and read that Henry Miller’s original intention was to write just one big book, ‘The Story of My Misfortunes.’ Whatever, there’s one book by him I had picked up long back- The Books in My Life- that I thought was a wonderful book. But when I opened it I realized three fourths of the book was missing! I hadn’t checked the book properly before buying it, a basic mistake I make sometimes in my excitement at finding a good title.

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 29-04-2018)

I knew it was going to be a hot day but I did not realize the temperature would be 42 degrees when I was at Abids. It was sizzling when I stepped out to look for the books on the pavements at Abids last Sunday with Uma. It was the hottest day of the season so far in Hyderabad last Sunday with the mercury touching 42˚ C making it very, very hot. Of course, we were prepared with caps and a bottle of water but being in the open for more than a few minutes wasn’t so easy. But somehow we managed to browse for more than an hour and ended up with a nice haul of four books.
I remember picking up a copy of ’Twenty One Stories’ by Graham Greene sometime back and also reading a story from it that I found in another copy of the same book that I found at Abids last Sunday. These are the stories in ‘Twenty One Stories’ by Graham Greene: The Destructors; Special Duties; The Blue Film; The Hint of an Explanation: When Greek Meets Greek; Men at Work; Alas, Poor Maling; The Case for the Defence; A Little Place off the Edgware Road; Across the Bridge; A Drive in the Country; The Innocent; The Basement Room; A Chance of Mr Lever; Brother; Jubilee; A Day Saved; I Spy; Proof Positive; The Second Death; The End of the Party.
Then with the same seller I saw a nice copy of ‘Land of Five Rivers’ by Khushwant Singh that had an attractive and colourful cover. Quite interestingly it has twenty one stories by writers from Punjab written in Punjabi (translated into English by others) and selected by Khushwant Singh. These are the stories in it:

‘A Punjab Pastorale’ by Khushwant Singh
‘Stench of Kerosene’ by Amrita Pritam
‘Lajwanti’ by Rajinder Singh Bedi
‘A Hundred Mile Race’ by Balwant Gargi
‘The Night of the Full Moon’ by Kartar Singh Duggal
'Reflections on the Golden Bed' by Mulk Raj Anand
'Hunger' by Krishen Singh Dhodi
'Gods on Trial' by Gulzar Singh Sandhu
'How Sohne Shan Once Lost His Temper' by G.D. Khosla
'The Death of Shaikh Burhanuddin' by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
'The Mahabharata Retold' by Satindra Singh
'Tai Eesree' by Krishen Chandra
'The Blind Alley' by Gurmukh Singh Jeet
'Saadat' by Yashpal
'Soorma Singh' by Balwant Singh
'The Nuptial Bed' by Upendra Nath Ask
'Happy New Year' by Ajeet Cour
'One Passenger, Ho !' by Santokh Singh Dhir
'Breaking Point' by Usha Mahajan
'Strange New World' by Kulwant Singh Virk
'Exchange of Lunatics' by Saadat Hasan Manto

I bought these two books for hundred rupees which wasn’t much.
Then I found another cookbook by Pritam Uberoi who seems to have written quite a number of cookbooks because only recently I had found a cookbook by her at Abids. It was the ‘Indian Cookery’ by Pritam Uberoi that I found. I got this book with an attractive cover for just thirty rupees.
Then again I found yet another book on writing. Only the other Sunday I had found a copy of ‘Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Fiction’ by Janet Burroway at Abids and now I found ‘The Simon & Schuster Guide to Writing; Second Edition’ by Jeanette Harris and Donald C. Cunningham that I picked up without a second thought. It is difficult for me to resist buying books on writing though I do not know if reading the dozens of books on writing I found in the past has helped me in anyway. Though I have not been writing anything significant I have been reading books on writing quite religiously since a long, long time.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Sunday and Other Haul (22/4/2018)

NTR Stadium in Hyderabad is the venue for many events such as exhibitions, fairs etc that take place there regularly. Since the past couple of years it is also been the venue for the Hyderabad Book Fair. It also happens to be quite close to where I live and also on the route to my office. Whenever there is an event there I get to know it beforehand somehow. A seller at the Abids book bazar told me about the Hyderabad Fest that was to be held from April 13-22 and he added that there would be many stalls selling books. Sometime last week I found the time to drop in at the Hyderabad Fest twice. There were around 30-40 stalls selling second hand books mostly. However despite so many stalls I ended up finding only two good books and while buying one of them got to experience first-hand a common phenomenon in the book trade.
It was on Thursday I went to the Hyd Fest for the first time. I picked up a nice and old copy of ‘A Farewell to Arms’ by Ernest Hemingway that had an attractive cover. I found it at one of the stalls put up by an Abids second hand bookseller. I got the book for fifty rupees. At another stall, it was one by a Bombay based second hand book-seller; I saw a beautiful copy of ‘The Sheltering Sky’ by Paul Bowles. The seller wanted a hundred and fifty rupees for it which I thought was too much. I tried to bargain but he did not budge so I left without buying it and regretted it all of Thursday night and until Friday evening when I decided to drop in at NTR stadium and pick it up.
When I looked around for the book I was not able to locate it for some time but ultimately found it in a corner. I looked around for the seller but instead another Abids seller who had the adjacent stall came over. I was a bit shocked when he told me he had bought the entire stock in the Bombay based seller’s stall and asked for two hundred rupees for the same book that I could have bought for a hundred and fifty rupees the previous day if I had any sense. I tried to bargain but the new seller told me he couldn’t afford to sell it at the price I could have bought it the previous day. It was too good a book to miss so I paid the two hundred rupees and walked out with the book wiser with the experience.
On Sunday at Abids I found a nice copy of Vimla Patil’s ‘Entertaining Indian Style’ that had a very beautiful cover. I got this recipe book for forty rupees and this was the only book I found at Abids.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 15-4-2018)

Sometime last month I had finished reading ‘The Book Hunters of Katpadi’ by Pradeep Sebastian that was in the library at the Institute where I am currently posted. One of the main characters in it mentions a list of Indian titles published by Jaico, Hind Pocket books in the forties- sixties that she is searching for relentlessly. I did not recollect the titles when I stumbled across a handful of Indian titles by Hind Pocket books at Chikkadpally last Sunday on the way back from Abids. I had never before seen the titles in such good condition. I had come across umpteen copies of ‘The Coffer Dams’ by Kamala Markandaya, and also ‘The Lalru Murders’ by Mangat Rai but hadn’t thought of buying them because of their condition. But last Sunday I found very good copies of ‘The Coffer Dams’ by Kamala Markandaya, ‘The Lalru Murders’ by EN Mangat Rai, and also a beautiful copy of ‘The Spy in Amber’ by Manohar Malgonkar that were published in the sixties. They were almost like new and I was surprised they were still in such a good condition even after nearly sixty years. I got these three titles for thirty each and a copy of ‘The Serpent and the Rope’ by Raja Rao, another old edition but not in such a good condition, for forty rupees.
Yesterday I looked up ‘The Book Hunters of Katpadi’ by Pradeep Sebastian but was disappointed that not one title I had found at Abids was mentioned. However, I was terribly pleased that I had the sense to pick up these beautiful copies. I am not really interested them in selling them but I want to retain them with myself and show them off. Quite surprisingly, while ‘The Serpent and the Rope’ by Raja Rao is a 1968 edition, ‘The Lalru Murders’ by E.N. Mangat Rai is a 1973 edition while the copies of ‘Spy in Amber’ by Manohar Malgonkar and ‘The Coffer Dams’ by Kamala Markandaya do not carry any year of publication. I was surprised to read that ‘Spy in Amber’ by Manohar Malgonkar was rendered into a novel by Sunita Malgonkar, his daughter, from the screenplay written by Manohar Malgonkar.
I had read about ‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and also remember jotting the title down in a notebook long back. Last Sunday I found a copy of this title at Chikkadpally that I bought for hundred rupees. Before that, at Abids, I had found a copy of ‘Cooking the Punjabi Way’ by Aroona Reejhsinghani that I got for twenty rupees.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 8-4-2018)

It is hailstorm season now in these parts. There had been more than a couple of days when it had rained in the evening bringing down the temperatures leaving the city cool. Last Sunday was the most unusual Sunday morning in summertime, weather wise. It actually rained in the morning when the normal trend was the rain doing its job in the evenings. However last Sunday morning it started to rain around half past eight and for some time it looked like it would go on raining for a couple of hours. It meant I wouldn’t be able to make it to Abids for browsing on the pavements for books. But fortunately it stopped raining after an hour and all was well with the rest of the day.
I’ve been picking up books on writing since a long time and over the years I have come to own quite a large and also impressive collection of such titles. While reading one of these books I came across a recommendation of ‘Writing Fiction’ by Janet Burroway that I noted down in one of my note books. I haven’t been able to trace that notebook now‘ after finding ‘Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Fiction’ by Janet Burroway at Abids. It is a bulky volume and in the examples were excerpts from novels by known and unknown writers and also some short stories by greats such as Grace Paley (A Man told Me the Story of His Life) and also Lydia Davis (Story) whose titles I am dying to find. I haven’t found a complete book by Lydia Davis so far but have managed to find story collections that had a couple of stories by her. I have no idea how long I have to search before I find something by Lydia Davis. I got this copy for eighty rupees together with another book.
Long after I began collecting cookbooks of all kinds I found, at last, a copy of ‘A Taste of India’ at Abids. It was only a couple of years ago and that was my first copy. Last Sunday I found another copy of ‘A Taste of India: The Definite Guide to Regional Cooking’ by Madhur Jaffrey. This copy had a different cover on which it said ‘Pavilion Great Cooks.’ The print on glossy paper was different and there were dozens of beautiful colour photographs filling up the pages. The copy itself, though looking ancient, was something to behold. I got this book for eighty rupees.

The rest of the haul was made up of three more recipe books. There is nothing much to write about them. See them below here.

Friday, April 06, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 01-04-2018)

It was a bountiful harvest of five wonderful titles at Abids last Sunday. Though there was a forecast of a cloudy sky in Hyderabad it wasn’t so when I landed up at Abids in the morning. It was too warm for comfort and it looked like it would get hotter later in the day. I am used to coming in the morning though it would have been sensible to come in the evening. Coming in the evening would mean missing out on good titles that would have been picked up by others.
The first find was a beautiful copy of ‘Gangs of Wasseypur- The Making of a Modern Classic’ by Jigna Kothari and Supriya Madamgarli. I had watched ‘Gangs of Wasseypur-II’ and had regretted not watching ‘Gangs of Wasseypur-I.’ I don’t think I will ever get to watch it in the future but I was glad I found this title.
The next find was in a heap of books selling for only ten rupees. My eyes skimmed through the titles of the books and fell on a tattered book. It was an old copy of ‘The Cat and Shakespeare’ by Raja Rao. It was a 1971 Orient Paperback edition and though the spine was exposed the pages were all inside and held together somehow.
‘After I had read ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus I was drawn to his writing and wanted to read more of him. I couldn’t find many titles by Camus and was on the lookout. Last Sunday on the pavement at Abids I spotted a copy of ‘Albert Camus: Selected Essays and Notebooks’ Edited and Translated by Philip Thody. The Introduction says ‘that the essays and others texts published in this volume are not primarily concerned with Camus’s philosophical or political ideas. They are intended to give a portrait of Camus the writer and literarcy critic, as well as Camus the individual.’ The book is divided into four Parts containing 18essays in Part I called ‘Lyrical Essays’ and seven essays in Part Two called ‘Critical Essays’ and the remaining two parts (Part Three and Four) are about how he wrote his books and extracts from his notebooks. This was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read so picked it up for just fifty rupees.
Near the Head Post Office from among the hundreds of books spread out on the road I managed to spot the copy of ‘Granta- Issue No 129-Fate’ that looked almost new. I picked it up mainly for Kent Haruf’s essay titled ‘The Making of a Writer’ and ‘Key Stroke’ by Will Self that was about JG Ballard’s typewriter.
Earlier while Uma was picking up books for his niece I spotted a copy of ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ Judi Barett, illustrated by Ron Barett that looked interesting and bought it. It was in a heap of children’s books selling for twenty rupees. I had come across the name often and had wondered what it could be. I was not aware that it was the title of a children’s books.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The New Pens in My Life

Sometime in February this year, my friend and fellow bibliophile Jai gave me a pleasant surprise by gifting me a Misak fountain pen after I casually mentioned to him that I was looking for another Misak in addition to the one I already had. Jai gave me a Misak almost exactly like the one I had except for minor differences. I fitted a Sheaffer nib I had lying with me to it and now it writes wonderfully. This is the Misak I got from Jai:
I had come across the name ‘Kanwrite’ somewhere but I did not realize that it was an Indian fountain pen brand. Someone in a fountain pen group on FB mentioned a name and a number of ‘Kanwrite’ makers. I sent a message on Whatsapp and got a sort of catalogue of dozens of beautiful looking pens in different colours. This is the ‘Kanwrite Desire’ I eventually selected and got within a week of ordering it. It is a beauty with a smooth finish.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 18-03-2018)

Perhaps to make up for the zero haul at Abids the previous Sunday, last Sunday yielded another wonderful haul. Three of the four titles I found were truly eye-popping titles of which one was a truly spectacular find. The haul did not coming cheap though for I ended up paying quite a bit. But I think they were all worth the six hundred and fifty rupees I shelled out for them.

The first find last Sunday at Abids was the aforementioned spectacular title. I spotted ‘The Greek Myths’ emblazoned in gold on the red cover. It was too striking to miss and as soon I saw it I decided to buy the book whatever the price. It turned out to be not one book but two volumes of the same title when I took a closer look. The two volumes were inside a half box which, I later discovered is called a ‘slipcase.’ When I took the two volumes out and looked at the illustrated cover I was taken aback.
It was The Folio Society edition and the books were very, very beautiful. I thought the seller would ask for something like a thousand rupees for the two-volume set. I was willing to pay that much but I was pleasantly surprised when he said the price was five hundred rupees but would give them to me for four hundred rupees. I paid three hundred and fifty rupees and the set was mine. It was a steal and I was pleased like anything at having found a wonderful title.
The second find at Abids was some kind of a mix about movies, books and a famous Hollywood actress. I found a copy of ‘5th Avenue 5 AM’ by Sam Wasson. It was about the making of the movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s based on the book with the same title by Truman Capote, starring Audrey Hepburn. I don’t know why I bought it but I paid forty rupees for it.
After finding these titles at Abids the rest of the haul got added at Chikkadpally on the way home. Sometime in 2015 at a sale by Best Books I had found a copy of ‘Avarana’ by SL Bhyrappa. It was a huge tome running into hundreds of pages. Like ‘Avarana’ ‘Parva’ that I found at Chikkadpally was another tome of 950 odd pages. It would take more than a month for me to finish reading it. But I was terribly pleased I did not hesitate to buy the Sahitya Akademi English version of ‘Parva’ by SL Bhyrappa the moment I saw it. I do not have any idea about it and I bought it thinking it would be something good.
At the other seller in Chikkadpally I spotted another wonderful title. It was a title related to my favorite continent- Africa. Sometime after Doris Lessing won the Nobel in Literature I picked up a copy of ‘The Golden Notebook’ but never got around to reading it. When I saw another title, a non-fiction title, by Lessing I picked it up. It was a copy of ‘African Laughter- Four Visits to Zimbabwe’ that seems to be some kind of a travelogue. I was just unconsciously looking for something like this on Africa I guess. I am glad I have something more and something very good on Africa by a Nobel laureate to read. I bought it for hundred rupees but I think it will be worth a lot more than that.