Friday, January 19, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 14-01-2018)

Another Sunday and another visit to Abids just a few days before the ‘31st Hyderabad Book Fair’ is about to begin resulted in a few more books in the haul. The first find was a copy of ‘dust on the road; the activist writings of Mahasweta Devi.’It is a compilation of the essays and articles Mahasweta Devi has written on issues and concerns ranging from bonded laborers of Palamau to a tribute to a revolutionary. It had an introductory essay by Maitreya Ghatak.
These are the chapters in it: The Bonded Labourers of Palamau, Contract Labour, No Escape, Land and Employment, Political and Cultural Dimensions of Discrimination, Lodhas and Kherias of West Bengal, Organizations of the Rural Poor, Superstition, Casteism and Communalism etc
Another wonderful find was a copy of ‘Glimpses: The Modern Indian Short Story’ edited by Aruna Sitesh that I spotted on a shelf with another indifferent seller. ‘Glimpses’ is a collection of thirty two stories in languages edited by Aruna Sitesh. I have, over the years, managed to gather an impressive pile of Indian short story collections and ‘Glimpses’ is another good addition to this pile. These are the stories in Glimpses:
ASSAMESE: The Potion by Atulananda Goswami; The Beasts by Mamoni Raisom Goswami (Tr: Mitra Phukan)
BENGALI: ‘All for Happiness’ by Ashapurna Debi (Tr: Bhaskar Roy Barman); ‘The Heroine’ by Sunil Gangopadhyay (Tr: Bhaskar Roy Barman)
DOGRI & KASHMIRI: ‘Smoke’ by Padma Sachdev (Tr: Susheela Ambike); ‘The Metropolis’ by Harikrishna Kaul (Tr: N.P. Singh)
ENGLISH: ‘A Trip into the Jungle’ by Manoj Das; ‘A Toast to Herself’ by Raji Narasimhan
GUJARATI: ‘Sacrifice’ by Bharati Vaidya; ‘The Green Flag’ by Pannalal Patel (Tr: Sarala Jag Mohan)
HINDI: ‘The Ghost’ by Ganga Prasad Vimal (Tr: J.P. Uniyal); The Black Smoke’ by Himanshu Joshi (Tr: Shrawan Kumar); ‘The Fade-Out’ by Sitesh Aloke (Tr: Aruna Sitesh); ‘Homecoming’ by Usha Priyamvada (Tr: N.P. Singh)
KANNADA: ‘Damayanti’s Lore’ by Anupama Niranjana (Tr: Yashoda Bhat) ; ‘A Day’s Romance’ by Ranjan Bhat Tr: Yashoda Bhat)
MALAYALAM: ‘Life and Death’ by Lalithambika Antharjanam (Tr: B.K. Chandrika); ‘Shingidi Mungan’ by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (Tr: late S. Velayudhan)
MARATHI: ‘Lust’ by Prabhakar Machwe; ‘The Last Chapter’ by Vijaya Rajadhyaksha (Tr: Susheela Ambike)
ORIYA: ‘Identity’ by Jagannath Prasad Das: ‘The Little Carved Box’ by Pratibha Ray (Tr:Jayanta Mahapatra)
PUNJABI: ‘This is My Cow, Sir’ by Amrita Pritam (Tr: Man Mohan Singh); ‘The Three-Walled House’ by Jasbir Bhullar (Tr: H.S. Hanspal)
SINDHI: ‘Wrong Arithmetic’ by Ishwar Chander (Tr: Shefalee Vaswani); ‘The Coward’ by Popati R. Hiranandani
TAMIL: ‘The Assaulted’ by Ashokamitran; ‘My Daughter Shobana’ by Chudamani Raghavan
TELUGU: ‘Ash Tray’ by Chaganti Tulasi (Tr: Jayasree Hariharan); ‘The Touchstone’ by Hita Sri (Tr: Srivirinchi)
URDU: ‘The Spell’ by Joginder Paul (Tr: Sudhir and Krishna Paul); ‘Used Clothes’ by Wajeda Tabassum (Tr: B.A. Farooqi)

As is my habit I flipped the front pages and came upon something written on a page that set my heart pounding with excitement. There was this inscription:
‘To Muthu,
with affection
father
Ashokamitran
Bangalore, Dec 24 , 1992’
Was it really Ashokamitran, the famous writer who has signed this copy to his son? I don’t know if he has a son called Muthu. Sure, there is a story by Ashokamitran in this collection and that’s reason enough for Ashokamitran to sign the book. I am very glad I got this copy.
Another interesting find was from a pile of Telugu books selling for only twenty rupees. I found a copy of ‘Praana Daata’ by Madhurantakam Rajaram. It is a collection of just four stories: Praanadaatha; Circus Dera; Miss Mariichika; Kumpatilo Kusumam; Sangha Jeevi. I picked up this book because I had heard a lot about Madhurantakam Rajaram and because I wanted to read a few Telugu short stories. It is a battered copy published in 1962, two years before I was born!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 07-01-2018)


2018 promises to be a great year, book wise, if what I found at Abids last Sunday is any indication. I found only three books, including two wonderful titles. I got one of them very, very cheap more out of luck than by my bargaining. Long ago I had come across a much damaged copy of William Styron’s ‘Darkness Visible’ his memoir of his depression. It was a hard cover copy that I found but the pages were all damaged and discoloured by moisture. Some years later I found a copy of ‘This Quiet Dust’, a collection of his essays. Last Sunday I found a wonderful hardcover copy of ‘Havanas in Camelot’ his famous collection of personal essays.
There’s a seller in Abids who knows the value of the books he sells and never sells them cheap. I have to pay more than a hundred rupees to him to buy books from him. It was at his stall that I spotted ‘Havanas in Camelot’ but he wasn’t around. A lanky kid stood there and when I asked him the price he quoted a price I found hard to believe. I asked him once again and he said twenty five rupees. I took out the money and grabbed the book. It had the jacket intact and later when I looked inside I was thrilled to discover that it was a first edition. There are fourteen essays in this book: Havanas in Camelot; A Case of the Great Pox; “I’ll Have to Ask Indianapolis—“; Les Amis du President; Celebrating Capote; Himmy in the House; Transcontinental with Tex; A Literary Forefather; Slavery’s Pain, Disney’s Gain; Too Late for Conversion or Prayer; Moviegoer; Fessing Up; Walking with Aquinnah; “In Vineyard Haven.”
The second find of the day was in a pile of books that were hardcovers and seemed to be from someone’s collection. Someone was already going through the pile in which I spotted an author’s name that seemed familiar. I found a nice copy of ‘From Fear Set Free’ by Nayantara Sahgal a beautiful hardcover copy with the jacket enclosed in a plastic sleeve. The most interesting thing about this copy was that it seemed to have belonged to the Kansas City public library as there is a stamp inside and also the issue card. Nobody seemed to have borrowed this book even once. Published by WW Norton & Company Inc., New York ‘From Fear Set Free’ is described as ‘A delightful mixture of autobiography and thoughtful comment on the new India…’ on the cover. It has 20 chapters in 240 pages with closely packed text. I managed to get this book for a hundred rupees after a long spell of bargaining with the seller who asked for two hundred and fifty rupees for it.
The third and last find at Abids was in a pile of books selling for twenty rupees only. I spotted ‘A Harvest of Light’ by Suma Josson in the pile and picked it up. It is a collection of poetry by Disha. There are fifty four poems in this slim collection.

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Sunday Haul (on 31-12-2017)


This is the first post of 2018, the new year, and it is about the haul of books at Abids on the last Sunday and the last day of 2017, the old year. With a haul of 186 books so far during the year I was not exactly inclined to add to the tally so I decided I would not go to Abids because I would return with at least one book if I went. However after breakfast my feet grew itchy and I started for Abids. I returned home with three nice titles I found there.
The first title I found was a paperback copy of ‘A Sort of Life’ by Graham Greene, his autobiography. It appeared to be a copy belonging to a library. I already have a copy of the same title. I had found a hardcover copy without the jacket sometime in August, 2013. I do not remember if I have read it or not but I did not want to let go of the copy I saw last Sunday so I took it. It came pretty cheap at only thirty rupees.
I really have no idea what made me buy the copy of ‘The Essential Runner’ by John Hang that I saw. I don’t run and haven’t ever run in my life. I am always eager to know about such things so I must have picked it up. It was mine for just thirty rupees.
The last find of the year was a beautiful, almost brand new copy of ‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi, one of my favourite writers. It was in a stack of books being sold for fifty rupees and so I grabbed it since the original cost is and one cannot get this book for anything more than a hundred rupees. I must have bought more than half a dozen copies of this title, some of different editions. I give away copies of this title to whoever wants to read a good book by an Indian writer.
While taking stock of all the books I had picked up in the last year I realized I had missed a title that I had picked up sometime last month. I was passing through Lakdikapul and happened to notice the board of the ‘Unique second hand book store.’ I stopped to take a quick look and found an old copy of ‘The Beloved’ by Oroob’ aka PC Kuttikrishnan, the famous Malayali writer. I read on the cover that it was made into a movie also and had also won the Sahitya Akademi award. Such a wonderful book and I got it for just forty rupees. I don’t know if the small size of the book and its ancient world look must have made the people in the store think it wasn’t worth more than forty rupees.
With this book the total number of books I’ve bought this year comes to 190.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 24-12-2017)

Last Sunday I found a title by a writer with the sort of background not many writers care to have. To start with he was a professional burglar. Obviously he’s also a convict. Bob Dylan dedicated an album to him. He was also a mountaineer, playboy, traveller, filmmaker, and one of the founders of an underground welfare group known as ‘Diggers’ in San Fransico, and wrote an autobiography called ‘Ringolevio’ which was an international bestseller it appears. I remember seeing ‘Ringolevio’ somewhere but I haven’t noticed the author. So next time I come across ‘Ringolevio’ by Emmet Grogan I am going to grab it. ‘Final Score’ is Emmet Grogan’s first novel with the sort of cover that screams ‘Crime fiction’ and that’s something I cannot help buying. I bought it for just thirty rupees.
But ‘Final Score’ wasn’t the first book I found last Sunday at Abids. The first find was another book with a wonderful cover. I found a copy of ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P. Hartley in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees. I have come across the name ‘L.P.Hartley’ before but haven’t found any books by him so far either at Abids or at other places. There’s high praise for L.P. Hartley in the front pages of the book. L.P. Hartley had been fiction reviewer for the Spectator, the Saturday Review, the Observer and so on. He also won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and also the Heinemann Foundation Prize of the Royal Society for Literature and a film version of one of his books ‘The Hireling’ also won the principal award at the Cannes in 1973. So all this means that I have found a book by a truly wonderfully talented writer. I got this book for just twenty rupees.
So, the final score at the end of the penultimate Sunday of the year is 186 books.
It is now official that the Hyderabad Book Fair is beginning from 18 to 28th January, 2018, the last three days coinciding with the Hyderabad Literary Festival that’s from Jan 26-28, 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 17-12-2017)

Stephen King is one of those authors who write about how they came to write the book in the introduction and I love reading the tale behind the book. Last Sunday I came across a copy of ‘Salem’s Lot’ by Stephen King that had such an introduction. I realized I had not read ‘Salem’s Lot’ and picked it up for fifty rupees. Later sitting in the ‘Grand Hotel’ and sipping tea I read the introduction. Stephen King writes about how he got the idea for ‘Salem’s Lot’ from ‘Dracula’ and other vampire comics of that time.
The Sunday before last I had seen an English translation of an Assamese novel that I did not buy. One reason why I hesitated to buy it was that I did not know who the writer was though the book was a Sahitya Akademi publication. Last Sunday when I saw it again I looked it over carefully. ‘Longing for Sunshine’ by Syed Abdul Malik is the English translation of his novel in Assamese ‘Surya Mukheer Swapna.’ The translation was done by Pradip Acharya. Syed Abdul Malik is a famous Assamese author who won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972.
The ‘World Telugu Conference’ was going on in Hyderabad and I had read in the papers about a Telugu book exhibition that was a part of the conference. Since the main venue, LB Stadium, was not far away from Abids I decided to pay a visit. I had studied Telugu in school and I can read and write in Telugu though not so well. It was one of my desires to read some classic Telugu titles and though I had this desire for long I had not mustered up the courage to buy Telugu books and read them. A few years back I had managed to lay my hands on ‘Chillara Devullu’ by Dasarathi Ranga Charyulu but I haven’t read it yet. At the book show in WTC I saw a copy of a book I had long wanted to read. The title of the book felt like it could be my own story. When I saw ‘Asamarthuni Jeevitha Yathra’ by Gopichand I bought it. For the past several years I have been making resolutions of reading either a Telugu or a Hindi book a year but haven’t been able to do it. I want to read at least one Telugu novel this year so I have already started reading ‘Asamarthuni Jeevitha Yathra.’ It is just 124 pages long and I hope to finish it before the end of the month.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 10-12-2017)


The year is drawing to a close and there are three more Sundays left. The haul of books that I’ve made this year from my visits to Abids, to second hand bookstores and also gifts from friends has added to a staggering hundred and seventy seven books. If I buy the books at my usual average of three books every Sunday then the total haul would cross 190 that is excluding the number of books that I buy at the Hyderabad Book Fair that is usually held in December. I heard that this year the Book Fair will not be held in December but is going to be held from the 18th of next January. In which case, my haul of books in 2017 is likely to be less than 200.
Last Sunday I was Abids as usual to look for books on the pavements. I ended up finding three books in all, two cookbooks and a crime fiction title. I’ve realized that British are terribly good at crime fiction after I’ve read Ted Lewis and Jake Arnott. There was another writer I cannot recollect now but I am always on the lookout for newer writers of crime fiction. I spotted a new book that seemed to stand out and I couldn’t resist picking it up to take a better look. It was ‘naked to the hangman’ by Andrew Taylor and once I read the blurb by The Sunday Times on the back cover saying it was ‘Crime at its best’ I decided to buy it.
Next I found ‘Secret Recipes from Indian Homes’ by Femina that looked like an ancient magazine. But it was published only in 1990 as it says on the cover- Vimla Patil presents The Best Recipes of 1990. I got it for thirty rupees. Later I bought another interesting cookbook. This was the ‘Chuk-Chuk Cookbook’ brought out by the SCRWO (South Central Railways Women’s Organisation). It appeared a quaint cookbook which was one reason I bought it.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 03-12-2017)

I don’t know what more I can write about the Sunday book market at Abids except that I never fail to be amazed at the surprises it throws up regularly. Once again last Sunday I hauled in another wonderful catch of some truly fantastic titles. I found three good titles I wouldn’t have found in any bookstore. One of the titles I have been desperately looking for is ‘The Survivor and Other Stories’ by Arun Joshi that I wanted to get my hands on ever since I read about it. Though I haven’t been able to find it so far I found a collection of stories that had a story from ‘The Survivor and Other Stories’
The first find of last Sunday was a hardcover copy of ‘Contemporary Indian Short Stories in English’ compiled by Shiv K. Kumar and published by Sahitya Akademi. I found it with a seller beside the café where I take a tea break. I have found many collections of Indian short stories in English but this seems to the best because it contains stories by a dazzling line up of some of the best writers in India. The following are the 24 stories in this collection;

Cold Wave by K.A. Abbas;
The Liar by Mulk Raj Anand;
The Betrayal by Sujatha Balasubramaniam;
The Eyes are Not Here by Ruskin Bond;
Versus the Godman by Upamanyu Chatterjee;
The Jahangir Syndrome by Keki Daruwalla;
Fish Mayonnaise by Kishori Charan Das;
The Submerged Valley by Manoj Das;
Heavy is Gold by Sunita Jain;
The Boy with the Flute by Arun Joshi;
To Nun with Love by Shiv K. Kumar;
Eyes by Jayanta Mahapatra’
A Pinch of Snuff by Manohar Malgaonkar;
Letters/4,5, and 6 by Anita Mehta;
Absolution by Dina Mehta;
The Womb by Chaman Nahal;
Green Sari by R.K. Narayan;
A Toast to Herself by Raji Narasimhan;
Afternoon of the House by Padma Pereira;
India-A Fable by Raja Rao;
Martand by Nayantara Sahgal;
If it were not for the Child by Ajoy Sen;
The Bottom Pincher by Khushwant Singh;
Not to be Loose Shunted by Ashok Srinivasan

There are some writers I haven’t heard about before until I found this wonderful collection. I haven’t heard of Ajoy Sen, Ashok Srinivasan, Padma Pereira, Raji Narasimhan, Anita Mehta, Sunita Jain, Sujatha Balasubramaniam so far but now I am glad I know who these writers are. This books seems to be from a college library because there was the stamp of Cauvery D.Ed College, Bangalore on one of the pages. I think this book is worth more than the hundred rupees I paid for it.
The second I spotted ‘The House at Adampur’ by Anand Lall I picked it up. It had the sort of irresistible cover that reminded me of the books brought out by Indian publishers in the sixties and seventies. I have not heard of the title or Arthur Lall, the writer. Inside I read that the book was first published by Alfred Knopf in 1956 but what I had in my hand was an Indian edition published by Pearl Publications, another new name for me. On the back I read that Anand Lall is better known by his westernized name Arthur Lall who was Amabassador and Permanent Representative of India to the UN back then. Anand Lall has also published another novel- Seasons of Jupiter. All this is fascinating information. I got it for just thirty rupees with the same seller who doesn’t have any idea about the value of the books he sells and sells them at a uniform price. The most interesting thing about the copy I found was that it belonged to a High Court Judge.
Then I found another book featuring two of my favourite writers. I found ‘V.S.Naipaul-An Introduction to His Work’ by Paul Theroux. Heinemann is the publisher and it was published first by Andre Deutsch in 1972. I thought maybe this book is some sort of a precursor to the book on Naipaul that Theroux wrote later. I got this book from a seller who doesn’t like to bargain much so I had to pay a hundred rupees for this.

Friday, December 01, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 26-11-2017)


It was a meagre haul that I had last Sunday at Abids. I found just two books, one of them a magazine. I am not in my normal moods in November somehow. Nothing seems to go right and vague memories of something that happened in this month in the past weigh me down. I try to get over the feeling but don’t usually succeed so I try to battle the lows by reading. I set out last Sunday hoping I would find something to cheer me up but I ended up with nothing much worth writing here.
Kerala happens to be one of the few states I haven’t visited so far. I had thought of visiting with family sometime next year so I am stocking up on information about places I can visit in Kerala and things that I can do. Sometime back I had found a book … and a couple of weeks ago at Landmark I saw a separate booklet called ‘The Best of Kerala’ that came free with the October-November issue of Conde Nast Traveller that I did not buy. Later I regretted not buying it and thought of picking it up sometime soon. However on Sunday I saw the same at Abids, a stand alone supplement that I got for just twenty rupees. After going through it I might make further plans for the Kerala trip.
Later at Chikkadpally I picked up a copy of ‘Regional Indian Food’ by Kishore Reddy. The book cover was bright and colourful and inside were photographs of some of the dishes along with their recipes. The recipes were for the usual Indian dishes and nothing special but I bought it because it was attractive and stood out. It was also quite cheap at fifty rupees. That was the haul on Sunday that left me vague feeling of disappointment. This vague feeling lasted almost all week and was responsible for my trip to the MR Books store at Begumpet yesterday.
I had come to the Deccan Pen Store at Greenland to buy a refill for the Sheaffer ball point pen I got as a gift recently. Unfortunately they did not have the refill and passing by the MR Book Store I stopped to take a look. A quick glance revealed the shelf had a copy of ‘The Good Muslim of Jackson Heights’ by Jaysinh Birjepatil I had got as a gift from Jai. I saw a copy of ‘Hollywood Animal’ by Joe Eszterhas that I was tempted to buy but didn’t. Then I spotted a beautiful copy of ‘Stet’ by Diana Athill that was almost brand new and far better than the two copies I have. I did not hesitate long before picking it up for hundred rupees. Strangely, I felt calm after I had bought my third copy of this title.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 19-11-2017)

A haul of more than two books at the Abids book bazaar on Sundays make me glad as well as nervous. I feel glad because I have added more books to be read and nervous because there isn’t much space in my bookshelves for more books. Last Sunday I ended up with another big haul of seven books, of which one was a gift from my friend Jai. I hadn’t been to Abids the previous Sunday when it seems Jai had come along with the gift to give it to me. Due to some work at the Institute I wasn’t able to make it to Abids on that day. So Jai said he would come this Sunday to give me the book but wouldn’t tell me the title. The suspense of what Jai had brought for me made me very eager to go to Abids last Sunday. It was another bright and slightly warm morning when I landed up at Abids.
The first haul consisted of two cookbooks, both hardcover copies. The first one was ‘Khajana of Healthy Tasty Recipes’ by Sanjeev Kapoor and the second cookbook was ‘Step-by-Step Indian Cookery’ by Khalid Aziz. Both were in extremely good condition and I got them from my favourite bookseller at Abids for just a hundred rupees.
With the same seller I spotted Geoff Dyer’s ‘Yoga for People Who Can’t be Bothered to Do It’’ that I got for fifty rupees. The price felt a bit high but the copy, a discard of the British Library, was in a good condition. It was a non-fiction title and had ‘Travel/Memoir’ at the back.
Then I met my friends, Uma and Jai, and we sat in the café for chai. Jai took out a book and handed it to me. It was a copy of ‘The Good Muslim of Jackson Heights’ by Jaysinh Birjepatil. I was thrilled that I had another title by an author I had found only the other day. The Sunday before last I had found Jaysinh Birjepatil’s ‘Chinnery’s Hotel’ after finding it in a list of books that Khushwant Singh put in his book ‘Khushwantnama’
On a visit to the Best Book store in Lakdikapul sometime during this month I had seen a copy of ‘I Take this Woman’ by Rajinder Singh Bedi. A Penguin title, the copy was in a good condition but the price was a hundred rupees which prevented me from buying it though I wanted to buy it. I knew it was a good book but since I had already bought two books I decided I would buy it on my next visit. However, last Sunday I spotted this title in a heap of books selling for just twenty rupees. I was glad I did not buy the copy I had seen at the bookstore because the copy I saw at Abids was not only very cheap but it was the original edition published by Orient Paperbacks in 1967. ‘I Take This Woman’ is the English version of ‘Ek Chadar Maili Si’, a Punjabi novel that won the Sahitya Akademi Award for Rajinder Singh Bedi. Khushwant Singh translated it from Punjabi into English as it says on the cover.
The next title in the haul was a wonderful find. There are a few sellers in Abids who are very knowledgeable about authors and the titles and they don’t sell their books for less than what they think the title is worth. It is futile to bargain with such sellers and one has to buy the book at their prices. On the other hand there are a couple of sellers who are absolutely ignorant of the books they sell. These sellers usually have a fixed price, often very low, for all the books with them. There’s one such seller who sometimes sells many books for twenty rupees. Last Sunday I got a copy of ‘Dear Life’ by Alice Munro from one such seller for only twenty rupees. It was an unbelievable find and I was quite thrilled to find this collection of short stories by one of the greatest master of the short story. I didn’t mind that the cover on the front had a bit missing at the top. This collection of fourteen stories has these stories: To Reach Japan; Amundsen; Leaving Maverley; Gravel; Haven; Pride; Corrie; Train; In Sight of the Lake; Dolly; The Eye; Night; Voices; and Dear Life, the title story.
The last find was another screenwriting title- ‘How to Write a Selling Screenplay’ by Christopher Keane. Books on screenwriting are something I cannot resist buying and this has meant that I have more than a dozen titles on screenwriting. However, I haven’t finished the script I have been working on since heaven knows when. The copy I found was one that someone had got bound nicely. I got this lovely copy for a hundred rupees.
So that was the haul last Sunday at Abids. With this haul the total number of books I bought this year so far 173. There’s still December left and the Hyderabad Book Fair which means that the total tally could touch 200 books or more.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Pens I Got as Gifts


Nothing puts me in a good mood than holding a beautiful pen in my hand and scribbling away. I love pens, be it a ball point or a fountain pen. Knowing how much I love writing with pens my friends and family shower me with gifts of pens. So whenever I get a pen as a gift I automatically fall in love with it and also with the person who gave it to me. Last month around Diwali I got not one but two pens as unexpected gifts. For some reason around Diwali time I feel low, physically and emotionally. But this year the two pens had me smiling like I’ve never received two pens as gifts in my life.

There are close friends and there are very close friends, the sort you hold conversations with in your mind everyday even if they are thousands of miles away. I have one such very close friend- Keshav who I met in the first year of college thirty six years ago. Others know him as Dr Kranti but to me and a few others he is Keshav. When his ex-colleague called me up to say Keshav had sent a gift for me I was surprised. Keshav had shifted to the US to work in an international organization sometime in March this year and there was no way he could have sent it from there. But it seems Keshav had been to Nagpur on a short visit and had sent a gift for me through his colleague at Central Institute for Cotton Research that Keshav headed as its Director. When I went to meet his colleague who had come to Hyderabad for the Diwali holidays I thought it would be a book Keshav wanted me to read. But when I saw the black Sheaffer box with I knew it had to be a pen. I was thrilled when it turned out to be a beautiful fountain pen. When I checked it out I realized I had to get a new filling system for it because there was only provision to attach a cartridge. It would be another excuse for me to drop in at Deccan Pen Stores I thought.

Then a couple of days later Hari sprang a surprise on me. We usually meet once a week over coffee but that evening he turned up with family. When they took out the box and handed it to me I was in for a pleasant shock. It turned out to be a stunning Sheaffer ball point pen. It was just the thing I had been looking for. I wanted something classy to write with at the office and till then I had nothing. Now that Sheaffer ball point is something I carry to work every day. It was a wonderful gift that complemented the fountain pen Keshav gifted me. Now I own a pair of Sheaffer pens presented by my close friends and they are gifts I will cherish forever because they made my Diwali something I will never forget.