Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Goan Interlude

What a friend told me a long time back is still lodged in my memory and which comes up every time I hear Goa mentioned anywhere. He had said, ’Never visit Goa during the monsoons even if they offered to set you up in a five star hotel plus a million dollars.’ Of course, I am exaggerating a bit but my friend did say that except the million dollar part. That was his opinion no doubt after having been to Goa during the monsoon and finding it wasn’t much fun when everything around you is dripping wet. Anyway, this was another of my oddball friends (most of my friends are oddballs) and I do not recall when exactly during the monsoon he made that disastrous trip to Goa. But last week I was there at Goa for a brief vacation. It might really give you an idea about my job (and also my pay) if I am going to Goa at a time when even the Goans do not like to be around.

Last time I visited Goa, six years ago, it was in the company of colleagues in the office. Two of them, incidentally happened to be cops. I realized then that it was no fun to go to Goa (or anywhere for that matter) in the company of cops. One would have thought with cops around you would be at least able to find your way but no sir, first thing that happened to us was that we lost our way. It took us a little less than twenty four hours to get to Panaji. Of course, every one had a lot of fun, me a little less because I am the sort of person who can’t have fun even if fun were to come and sit in my lap. But then that was a long time ago, Oct 2006, to be exact. This time however, I went with family.

Of late I’m enamored of IRCTC because of their excellent package tours where everything is taken care of. They book your tickets, they arrange for accommodation, they provide local transportation, they even arrange for food, in short, they do everything except putting the food into your mouth. I’ve made a couple of trips to Tirupati with them and with that in mind I signed up for a short package tour to Goa. It turned out to be a rather nice experience worth writing here about. I shall do that at a later stage but meanwhile take a look at some of the pictures of the kid at the beach, the Dudhsagar falls, the lush green environs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Sunday Haul

A long time ago I got into the habit of writing down the titles of books I came across in other books that I was reading at that time. I just jotted down the titles and did not really intend to go looking for them. But I remembered the titles and whenever I came across any particular title I would unhesitatingly pick it up. Thanks to that list I found ‘Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham, ‘Ex-Libris’ by Anne Fadiman, ‘How Reading Changed My Life’ by Anna Quindlen and ‘Ruined by Reading’ by Lynne Sharon Schwartz which are all books on books and reading that I, needless to say, am hopelessly addicted to. Another book on my list that I added sometime in the year 2000 was one that I did not ever intended or expected to find at Abids or anywhere was ‘Stet- An Editor’s Life’ by Diana Athill. It was another unbelievable stroke of luck that I found this wonderful book at Abids on Sunday very cheap.

If there is any experience comparable to finding a diamond among pebbles it is that of finding a rare title among unworthy books. Last Sunday while sorting through a heap of books selling for thirty rupees my eyes fell on ‘Stet’ the cover of which was covered by a film of dust. It was one of those rare moments when I felt like breaking into a jig but I contended with a stifled cry of exultation as I pulled the book out of the heap. I could say ‘Stet’ was the find of the year so far. For the rest of the day I felt like I was floating in air every time I looked at the book again and again after I got home. So far I’ve read only books by writers on their reading, favorite books, and their writing life but none by an editor. Of course, I have a title by a prominent publisher- Bennett Cerf’s ‘At Random’ but as I said earlier, nothing by an editor. Now that gap has been filled up.

The copy of ‘Stet’ I found had thin film of dust or mud maybe on the cover. After I wiped it off with a damp cloth the cover was as good as new. The book is in excellent condition with all the inside pages intact and free from any sort of notings or markings made by pen or pencil. It appeared like the book hadn’t been opened or read but dumped after having not been sold even at $ 1 as the round red label stuck on the cover shows. The actual price of the book as printed on the back cover is £ 7.99. But I paid only Rs. 30/ which is a fraction of the price. Lucky me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Sunday Haul

Patience has its own rewards. There is a saying that everything comes to those who wait. After waiting for many years I at last found two books I’ve been looking for. I have been on the lookout for a good copy of Nirad C.Chaudhuri’s ‘Autobiography of An Unknown Indian’ for as long as I remember. Of course I’ve come across many copies of this book at Abids but they were either in a bad condition or unappealing to me in some way. Since I knew from experience that I’d come across a good enough copy sooner or later I had no option but wait for such a thing to happen. Last Sunday it happened.

When Uma told me he had seen a good book on screenwriting I decided to check it out. Right next to the book on screenwriting was a beautiful edition of ‘Autobiography of An Unknown Indian’ which did not come cheap. I paid the two hundred rupees the seller asked for it because it was one of a limited collector’s edition of 1000 numbered copies brought out to commemorate the author’s 100th birthday. However I couldn’t find anywhere on the book which of the 1000 copies my copy was. I was pleased no end having got the hardcover copy in pristine condition with dust jacket intact and the only thing left is to find the time to read it. Another similar find was Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’ that I have been looking for since long. At Chikkadpally I found a good copy, a Mandarin edition that I got for only fifty rupees.

However, another find of the day was the scriptwriting book that Uma had spotted earlier. It did cost a bomb but I guess ‘Writing Movies’ by Gotham Writers Workshop that I picked up is worth it. Someday after I finish my scripts I hope to recover many times what I paid for all the script writing books I have bought so far in the hope of writing a movie. I have a half completed script for an action movie that I am dreaming of selling to one of those hotshot young actors who might go for the hero’s character in my story and also pay me enough let me quit this job. Ha ha.


Frankfurt Books, the itinerant secondhand book store now in Begumpet since a couple of years has another branch that opened recently near Liberty. It is located on the left side of the road leading to the GHMC offices at the Liberty traffic signal. I happened to drop in there for a quick visit and spotted nothing interesting. The collection is too small and nowhere near the vast and staggering collection of books at the Begumpet store.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


One of the few things I find impossible to resist is buying good copies of books I already have. When I enjoy reading a good book I think of people I know who will also enjoy reading the same book. Since I can’t give my copy I try to pick up copies for them whenever I find copies. Last Sunday I picked up two such books that I already have and coincidentally both were copies of books by one of my favorite writers- Len Deighton.

At Chikkadpally I found a paperback copy of Deighton’s ‘To Catch A Falling Spy’ and got it for only ten rupees. The book is also available with a different title ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Spy’ which I have with me. The other Len Deighton title I found at Abids was ‘Yesterday’s Spy’ which I had reread only last year. The copy I found was a beautiful hard bound copy complete with dust jacket that I picked up from a heap of books selling for only thirty rupees. It turned out to a book withdrawn from South Hadley Library, Massachussets and had ‘1975’ stamped on it.

In the same heap I found another hardcover book- ‘Sydney’ by Jan Morris- which will be a welcome addition to my shelf of travel books. At Chikkadpally I had also picked up George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ that I got for only ten rupees. Then at Abids at another seller I picked up William Diehl’s ‘Sharky’s Machine’ that I remember reading about somewhere. ‘Sharky’s Machine’ sounds like it is going to be a good read but I don’t know when I will get to read the books since I have a tremendous backlog of books that I have to read.

I had set out thinking I wouldn’t buy a single book but ended up buying five good books in all last Sunday for less than a hundred rupees.