Friday, June 16, 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.
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
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.
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
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.
Friday, May 26, 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.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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.
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
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.
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.
Friday, May 12, 2017
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.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
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.
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.
Friday, April 28, 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.
So that was how the World Book Day was for me.
Friday, April 21, 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.