Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Sunday Haul

Last Sunday it was very, very hot in Hyderabad. At Abids, out in the open, we hunted for books in the heaps. This Sunday two more people (friends of Srikanth) joined us and together we picked up quite a few books. I found only one book- Mario Vargas Llosa's 'The Story Teller' that I got quite cheap.

As usual, I read the first chapter and it was so good that I am currently reading it. Since I am busy being No.2 I couldn't post earlier and it another reason this post is short. Next post would be a bigger one because it would be about the two trips to Delhi I would have made by Wednesday. There would be another post about the downside of being No. 2.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sunday Haul and Other Stuff

Come May and Hyderabad turns into a cauldron. Only those with important and urgent business venture in the hot sun on Sundays. Many prefer to stay at home and relax on the holiday. But since I find my relaxation in the hunt for books at Abids I prefer to be there hot sun or not, hoping to get lucky. Last Sunday ( 6th May) too I was at Abids for the hunt. The previous Sunday I had missed picking up two books due to budget problems. This Sunday with the wallet full I could afford to buy the books. Luckily one of the books was still around and the second book wasn't the one I had seen the other day but in its place I found a different title but by the same author. I found Richard Dawkins' ' A Devil's Chaplain' instead of his 'The God Delusion' that I had seen the previous Sunday. I also picked up Octavio Paz's 'In Light of India'. Later at home I read the introduction to the three books I picked up and it was a struggle to prevent myself from reading the rest of the book. However, I am already into 'In Light of India'.

Ever since I read Atul Gawande's 'Better' and 'Complications' I have been on the look for the book that made him famous- 'The Checklist Manifesto.' A friend also wanted to read it and I was a bit desperate to find it and last Sunday at last I came across not one but two copies of it. The edition was a hardcover one and had a drug company's name on it which meant that it was for giving away to doctors who bothered to read such stuff. Anyway, it was a beautiful copy that I got for only eighty rupees. It is one of the books I want to start reading right away.

Uma found Evelyn Waugh's 'Scoop' which I missed spotting. It was a beautiful Penguin copy and was really a good find. However I couldn't find 'No Country for Old Men' by Cormac McCArthy that I had missed the previous Sunday. Since I had seen the movie I thought it wouldn't make any sense buying the book. Later I realized I should have bought it but when I looked it was gone.

The other highlight of that Sunday was the "Literary Review' in 'The Hindu' which I had been waiting for since last month. If last month Aleph had an ad announcing its May releases this month it was the turn of Rupa's new imprint 'raintree' to list out its new releases. There was a lot of stuff in LR but what was interesting was the interview with Anjum Hasan whose new collection of short stories is out. Sometime soon I will buy it since I do enjoy her writing.

The 'Literary Review' in 'The Hindu'

It was a bit of news that was exciting but I actually felt disappointed. I read that Ashokamitran would be in Hyderabad to receive an award from the NTR Trut on the 28th of this month. The disappointing side of this news is that I will be in Delhi attending a meeting on that very day. If I weren't making that trip I would have surely met the great writer and taken his autograph on a copy of 'Mole' that I read recently. Incidentally there is a copy of this book at the new Odyssey branch in Secunderabad.

Ashokamitran in Hyderabad

Unlike the previous years when Best Books Center would have a sale of second hand books in May, this year they plan to have it in September. I was really looking forward to their sale in May but I have to wait another four months.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Power and Glory of Being No. 2

In the novel ‘The Man’ by Irving Wallace, someone down the pecking order becomes the President of the United State in strange circumstances. Something similar happened in our office recently though the No. 1 is still around and there was no accident or anything like what happens in the novel. Almost overnight from somewhere being No. 5 I became No. 2 in the office. The interesting thing is that apart from being No. 5, I am also No. 2 which is something which happens only in the government.

Sometime last week the No. 2 in the office left abruptly. The No. 3 position was vacant. The No. 4 was out of action since a long time because of an accident. There’s someone between No. 4 and No. 5 but I was chosen as No. 2 for reasons I am yet to comprehend. Never had I dreamt that I would take such a quantum leap up the ladder. After a week’s experience as No. 2 all I can say it is no joke being a heartbeat away from being No. 1. Not that I can ever hope to become No.1.It is impossible. So far it has been a smooth ride but I am eager to get back to my No. 5 status because I am not comfortable with a lot of things that come with being No. 2 in our office.

The responsibilities of being No. 2 are rather heavy. But there are a lot of perks that come with the No. 2 job. I have a large room with an AC, an anteroom with an attached toilet and a bed in case I feel like taking a nap, a television set, two telephones, two personal attendants, a PA with his own room and of course, tea and coffee whenever I want. Then there’s the car. It isn’t an ordinary white Ambassador car that I am travelling now but a Honda City. It has two drivers who work in shifts. I had never imagined that I would get driven to work in such a big car.

I keep forgetting that I am the No. 2 and on entering the office go to my old No. 5 seat and spend some time there before being reminded by the personal attendant about the files waiting for me. There are usually mountains of files I have to go through and sign as No. 2. There are too many things to attend at once, especially meetings. Then as No. 2 almost everyone in the office is subordinate to me which means I get too much of respect (most of it false) if I venture out of my room. People make way for me like I am the Pope, they open doors for me like I can’t open them myself and generally treat me in a way that makes me very nervous.

Apart from myself there are others too who do not seem to be very happy at my elevation as No. 2. It shows in their face when they come to me with files with an expression that says they cannot believe I am the No. 2. At times like that and in their presence I begin to feel somewhat unworthy myself. Since I am in the No. 2 seat temporarily I cannot really assert myself very much. The only bright thing about being No. 2, apart from the perks, is the fact that I will get additional pay for being an impostor. But the downside is that I haven’t even once dropped in at Adarsh or Paradise or any Irani joint for chai on the way home. I’m getting to drink Irani chai only on Sundays at Abids.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Sunday Haul

Of the few things that prevent me from picking up books at will, lack of money tops the list just before lack of time to read. Though I came across more than a couple of books on Sunday that I wanted to pick up I couldn’t do so because it was the end of the month and the wallet wasn’t exactly in a position to support the decision. Nevertheless I picked up two books- one at Abids and the other at Chikkadpally. However the disappointment of not having picked up some books that I had seen overshadowed the joy of finding these books.

At Abids last Sunday I found another travel book- Mary McCarthy’s ‘The Stones of Venice and Rome Observed’- in a heap of books on the pavement. I got this Penguin title for twenty rupees only which is quite a bargain. I haven’t read Mary McCarthy’s other books like ‘The Group’ of which I have heard and read a lot and also come across quite frequently at Abids. But I do plan to read ‘The Stones of Venice and Rome Observed’ one of these days. The blurbs on the back cover make it difficult not to read the book.

More than a couple of years ago I had found Pico Iyer’s ‘Tropical Classical’ which is something of a treasure. ‘Tropical Classical’ showcases Pico Iyer’s essays, travelogues, reviews and other writings in one place. The copy I had found then wasn’t exactly in good condition with the pages coming apart at the spine. Not so long ago I wished I could find a good copy and that wish came true last Sunday at Chikkadpally where I found an almost brand new copy of ‘Tropical Classical’ by Pico Iyer. I preferred to buy this copy of “Tropical Classical’ over Octavio Paz’s ‘In Light of India’ and Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ that I wanted to buy but couldn’t. Maybe next Sunday if the books are around I will pick them up first thing in the morning.