Friday, July 21, 2017

The Sunday Haul (16-07-2017)


It is less of a Sunday when the sun remains hidden behind the clouds on an overcast day especially if leads to drizzles which dampen the mood like anything. Last Sunday was one such day when it appeared there’d be more rain than holiday cheer. However after some hesitation whether to go to Abids or not I started out on the two wheeler despite the light drizzle. I was certain the second hand book sellers would be there so as not to disappoint regular visitors like me. So when I arrived in Abids and saw that the booksellers were there at their usual places I felt glad I had come.
I had another reason to be glad for a friend joined me. As usual we sat in the Star of Asia café and whiled away a good part of an hour talking books, movies, and writers. Then later we set out on the quest for books. First I picked up two hardcover children’s books on cyclones and heatwaves that could help me in my current job. The good finds came after I bought these two books. The first find was the screenplay of ‘Pulp Fiction’ by Quentin Tarantino. I already have the screenplay of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ so finding this was a double joy. I found this book just moments after I bought another book- ‘Writing with Ease’ by Usha Pandit that I thought might come handy someday.
The last find of the day was ‘The Magic Animal: Mankind Revisited’ by Philip Wylie. I don’t remember where I had come across this name but I felt it could be a book worth picking up so I picked it up. I really have no idea about Philip Wylie till now but maybe after reading the book I might know. From the blurb on the back cover Philip Wylie seems some kind of iconoclastic writer shaking up things with his fierce writing. After I read on the back the tile of his earlier book- A Generation of Vipers- I felt that I must get hold of this book and read it. Even before I read anything by Philip Wylie I get the feeling that I am going to like his writing.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 9/7/2017)


I’ve got it written down somewhere in a notebook the name ‘James Salter’ that I read in an article by a writer who said that Salter was a writer’s writer or something to that effect. Since then I’ve been looking for titles by James Salter and finally last Sunday I found a title. However, this wasn’t the first title I found. A couple of months ago I had found another James Salter title. The seller quoted a too high price that I should have paid but some kind of hubris got over me and I walked away thinking no one would buy it because it was not in such a good condition and I also thought, foolishly though, that no one would have known about James Salter. The next Sunday when I searched for it I couldn’t find it. It was a stupid thing to do but somehow I do not seem to have learnt from past experience.
But last Sunday I wasn’t going to let go of ‘A Sport and A Pastime’ by James Salter that I saw the first thing at Abids. On the cover it said that it was the first paperback edition of the celebrated new underground classic. After I found this book I experienced a strange kind of high that remained with me all day. I couldn’t quite fathom why I was so elated finding this title but I felt very good. Unfortunately there was no friend with me last Sunday to share my joy since both my friends did not turn up. This was one of the two titles I picked up at the same seller. The other title was ‘Outline of American Literature’ brought out by the United States Department of State. I got both these books for fifty rupees which means the James Salter title ‘A Sport and A Pastime’ cost me just twenty five rupees.
It may sound unbelievable but one can find good books for just ten rupees at Abids. I have bought scores of books at Abids spending just ten rupees for each title. Last Sunday too in a heap of books being sold for ten rupees I found ‘The Heather Blazing’ by Colm Toibin. On the cover there was ‘PICADOR THIRTY’ printed and I wondered if this was some kind of special edition by Picador. I have to find out more about it.
The last find of the day was not at Abids but at Chikkadpally. I found another beautiful copy of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ by Dashiell Hammett. The copy I found looked brand new as if it had just come from the press. I was thrilled to find it and getting it for just fifty rupees added to the thrill. Though I have two copies of this title I couldn't resist buying this copy.
So it was another four book haul last Sunday. Somehow I felt very pleased with myself for having picked up some really good titles. However, there were a couple of books I saw but did not buy because they were beyond my reach. If I pick them up next Sunday I will write about them next Friday.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Sunday Haul (on 2/7/2017)

The Sunday before last Sunday I had returned home from Abids empty handed. Next day happened to be Ramzan so all the regular stores were open for the last minute shoppers. It meant that all the second hand booksellers had set shop at different places other than at their usual spots on the pavement in front of the regular stores. It was a bit disconcerting and apart from it, none of my friends turned up so alone I trawled through the heaps of books laid out on the pavement and failed to find anything worth buying.

However, last Sunday it was the normal scene at Abids with the regular stores shut and the second hand booksellers back at their usual place. On top of it Jai made an appearance after a long gap. By then I had already picked up my first find- another copy of ‘Screenplay’ by Syd Field that I got for two hundred rupees. It was a new copy and though I had a copy already I picked it up. Later my two other friends joined us and we sat in the café and indulged in a long spell of conversation about books, movies, and other things. Shrikant wanted the ‘Screenplay’ and took it so that is why there is no picture of that book here.
The next find was another cookbook. I found ‘Balti’ a hardcover book in an interesting format. It had a lot of recipes of chicken, mutton, prawn dishes apart from a few recipes of a few vegetarian dishes. I picked it up for just fifty rupees. The next find was in a heap of books selling for fifty rupees. It was a copy of ‘Too Much Happiness’ by Alice Munro, the master storyteller. I don’t remember if have a copy of this title but I picked it up. It was too good a title to let go. It had the following ten stories: Dimensions, Fiction, Wenlock Edge, Deep-Holes, Free Radicals, Face, Some Women, Child’s Play, Wood, and Too Much Happiness.
I got a pleasant surprise when Jai gave me a copy of Jo Nesbo’s ‘The Redbreast.’ I had no book to give him but I told him to pick up ‘Twilight at Macs’ by Ross Thomas that we saw in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees.
The last find was not at Abids but at Chikkadpally and it was a very interesting title that I found. I came across a copy of ‘The Picador Book of Latin American Stories’ edited by Carlos Fuentes and Julio Ortega. I got this wonderful title for just fifty rupees. There were thirty nine Latin American short stories in this collection. Of the thirty-nine writers I am familiar with only three names- Carlos Fuentes, and of course, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marquez. I was happy with this find and am eagerly waiting to read it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Sunday Haul (0n 18-06-2017)



Another rain-free morning and another three book haul was how my Sunday morning book hunt at Abids turned out to be. It was just another normal Sunday for me, apart from the fact that one member of our three-man team re-joined the team after a long gap.
The first ever full size book that I read from beginning to end was ‘The Man-Eater of Malgudi’ by RK Narayan that I finished reading in half a day during summer holidays nearly forty years ago. It was the book that got me hooked to books. I was about thirteen or fourteen years old then and over the years I managed to read almost everything that RK Narayan wrote. The only title of his I couldn’t lay my hands was ‘The Emerald Route’ that I learnt was a sort of travelogue. I wasn’t able to find it all these years despite looking for it all over. So, last Sunday when I spotted it at Abids I was very thrilled. I couldn’t believe it until I held it in my hand and looked over the book published by Vision Books. The book cost me just forty rupees.
The next title I found at Abids last Sunday was a book that was so beautiful that I decided to buy it right away without even looking at the title properly. It was a hard cover copy of ‘Somebody’s Sister’ by Derek Marlowe. The name seemed familiar and I had a hunch that it could be a good read so I bought it. It was a beautiful copy published by Book Club Associates, London and it said ‘by arrangement with Jonathan Cape.’ I found the jacket intact and not a single blemish anywhere on the book except one thing. On two of the front pages and one at the back page there was a round stamp that said ‘Lata and Rao Home Library’ but gave no indication of the place. The date written in ink inside the circle was 27/1/87 which makes it a thirty year old copy. Yet it was in perfect condition.

The third book I found was one related to another hobby of mine- crosswords- that I haven’t been following as keenly as my younger brother who regularly makes it to the Top 20 list of the Indian Crossword League held every year. Anyway, I found a copy of ‘The Daily Telegraph- How to Solve Crosswords Faster’ by May Abbott. Somehow finding this title made me think about going back to the habit of solving crosswords. Once I finish reading this book I might resume this interesting pastime.

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.