Friday, August 31, 2012

The Sunday Haul

Usually I make one trip to Abids on Sunday in the morning to look for books on the pavements. After a couple of hours browsing I return home with the haul if there’s any. Occasionally I am compelled to make a second foray sometime late in the afternoon or evening. I make this second trip on those days when I have second thoughts about not buying a book that I had come across or when I forget to pick up a book that I had seen and decided to buy in the end just before leaving for home. Such occasions are not frequent but not uncommon. Last Sunday happened to be one such Sunday when I went to Abids twice.

In the morning I had seen Manohar Malgonkar’s ‘A Bend in the Ganges’ that I decided to buy if I did not find anything else. Of course, as luck would have it I did not find anything worth buying except a November-December 2011 issue of National Geographic Traveler. I completely forgot about ABITG and went home empty handed. It was after lunch when I was flipping through National Geographic Traveler in which I saw a picture of the river Itaquai winding through the Amazon forest that I remembered about ‘A Bend in the Ganges.’ A long time back I had resolved I’d read more works of Indian writers, especially the books by the early writers like Mulk Raj Anand, Kushwant Singh, RK Narayan and such writers. So when I saw that ‘A Bend in the Ganges’ was published in 1964 which is, coincidentally, the year I was born, I wanted to read it. In addition there was also the fact that I had no haul of books which makes my Sundays incomplete so I decided to go back.

I went to Abids again late in the afternoon slightly anxious if I’d still find the book and praying no one would have bought it. Luckily, the book was still in the same spot where I had seen earlier in the day. I got the book for thirty rupees only. Though I haven’t read many books published in India in the sixties I have a vague idea that they were mostly about the freedom struggle, the partition and such things. Not surprisingly, the freedom struggle and the communal violence that followed form the background of ‘A Bend in the Ganges.’ Manohar Malgonkar’s book is another addition to the handful of books in English by early Indian writers that I have on my bookshelf such as Manto, Ashokamitran, RK Narayan, and Anita Desai. ’ I plan to read the book someday soon and certainly before the end of the year.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kichdi Post

Bird Rescue:
Getting up early in the morning has its flip side too. As one to be the first in the house to get up in the morning there are certain chores one is compelled to do. The door has to be opened and the gate has to be unlocked to let the maid in, the paper has to be collected, the milk sachets picked up from the door step and other such mundane tasks. Of the above, opening the door is one thing that causes a bit of panic. Even so early in the morning my imagination isn’t no less overactive and maybe so because I haven’t yet had my first cup of tea of the day. Upon opening the door I expect to find a corpse in the courtyard, or an UFO or things like that. With cats prowling it is quite natural thing to find bloody remains of a rat or a bird scattered around in the courtyard. Sometimes it is strange gooey stuff splattered around. Once there was a black dog that had somehow got in sometime during the night and could not get out. Most days the courtyard is free of such disasters but yesterday morning we had an unexpected visitor.

After I open the door I take a quick glance around the courtyard to reassure myself that nothing has been added to the scenery while we were asleep. Yesterday I noticed a small bird sitting hunched up in a corner. We have two large Millingtonia trees next to the compound wall and I had seen a bird nest sometime back. But this bird seemed to be far away from the trees and appeared to be an eagle chick judging from its curved beak and the color of its feathers. I thought it would go away on its own but after I casually told my son about it that the trouble began. He insisted we’d somehow help the bird. I did not have a clue about what to do. He then got the idea that we’d tell the Blue Cross people before the cats got to it. It looked like a good idea but getting the telephone number of Blue Cross was the problem. I found it in an old issue of Channel Six. However Kiran gave me another number and though it was seven in the morning I was amazed I managed to get in touch with someone who was some kind of a bird/animal rescuer. She told me to put the bird in a shoe box with holes and bring it over. Within the hour I handed over the bird to a volunteer in the park near Arts College and felt a lot better for having heeded to the kid’s pleas rather than letting nature take its course.

Later I checked out the Blue Cross website and was amazed to learn about the wonderful work they are doing. I read that they run a shelter for sick, injured, and abandoned pets and other creatures apart from running an ambulance for animals. My kid’s been pining for a pet dog since a long time but since we never had any pets before I am not warming up to the idea. But now I think I’ll probably ask the kid to volunteer at the Blue Cross so he’d learn something about handling pets and other animals before he gets a pet dog for himself.

Holiday Between the Covers
Nothing upsets one’s holiday plans more than falling sick just before the holidays begin. I had made several plans to do a lot of things on last Sunday and Monday which was a holiday because of Ramzan. But on Saturday morning I got the first indications that I would be down with fever and by nightfall I was burning with fever brought on by a cold and sinus infection. It was pretty obvious to me that I could do nothing else than spend the holidays lying in bed until I was better. Usually I get annoyed at being confined to the house but for once I was glad I was home. I decided to read something that I had been planning to do since a long time. There are some books one has to necessarily read in a single sitting or at a stretch without many interruptions and fortunately I have many such tomes on my bookshelf.
Sometime last year I had picked up Jo Nesbo’s ‘The Leopard’ which I had been waiting for just this kind of a break to read. I began the book on Sunday morning and finished by Monday night by which time my fever was also gone. It was totally engrossing and unputdownable. I am glad I read it because it made me forget my fever and the discomfort but the only hitch is that now I am planning to look for Jo Nesbo’s bestseller ‘The Snowman’ and start reading it the moment I find it.

Another New Ho…Ho…tel
Obviously, in Hyderabad, hotels are where the money is. Quite a few people in Hyderabad seem to have realized this fact otherwise how does one explain so many new (and swank) hotels being opened in Hyderabad every other week. Sometime back there was the news about the Hyatt opening somewhere in Jubilee Hills. Last week even as I was lying in bed with fever and diminished appetite there was the news of the opening of another new hotel in Hyderabad. I read in the papers about the opening of Green Park’s ‘Marigold’ last Friday or so.

Like I said before hotels seem to be the new money spinner. As it is, there is a hotel around, that is, the Green Park at Greenlands, and now ‘Marigold’ has come up right beside it which isn’t exactly a bad thing considering there aren’t many star hotels in that locality. Though Green Park and Marigold are not in Jubilee Hills (where, in case you didn’t know, there are more foodies per square feet than anywhere in this city) it is, luckily, unlike the Faluknama Palace, within driving distance from Jubilee Hills. I read that Marigold has a Pan Asian restaurant called ‘Mekong’ where one can taste dishes from China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Then there’s ‘Saffron Soul’ which will serve dishes from kitchens across the world. Forget the fact that the Marigold is a Rs 100 crore hotel or that it has 181 rooms, this is enough reason for the Jubilee Hills crowd to come running to Marigold tongues hanging out.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Sunday Haul

Most of the time it is either the cover, or the title or the blurb on the back or the author’s name that compel book lovers to buy a particular book. Of course, notwithstanding these the price also plays a role in the decision to buy or not. This last factor is not so important when buying books at Abids which is one major reason why I prefer picking up books here.

For sometime now since at least a couple of months or so I’ve been spotting a book that I have been hesitating to buy. I had never heard of Helen Garner or about ‘Monkey Grip’ the title of the book that she had written. The fact that it was a Penguin title or the fact that it was made into a movie did not influence me to buy Helen Garner’s ‘Monkey Grip’ until last Sunday when it surfaced again in a heap of books I was delving into. It was the price that decided it for me. Ten rupees.

I do not seem to get enough of writers’ autobiographies and memoirs though I have several of them including Somerset Maugham’s ‘Summing Up,’ Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, Agatha Christie’s ‘Autobiography,’ Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,’ Tobias Wolf’s ‘This Boy’s Life’ and several other writers. On Sunday at Chikkadpally I found ‘Scenes from A Writer’s Life’ by Ruskin Bond that I had to bargain quite hard to get for Rs 75. I read only the preface of the book and learnt that it was a memoir of the first twenty one years of Ruskin Bond’s life. Someday I might write one myself. Inspired by Somerset Maugham’s ‘Summing Up’ I have already thought of the title of my memoir/autobiography –‘Giving Up.’

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Sunday Haul and Two Milestones

A little more than a week ago, that is, the end of July marked two milestones- one major and the second, a minor milestone. The major milestone is that I’ve completed five years of this blog and I am so awed at it that I am at a loss for words which is another way of saying that there isn’t anything more I am going to write on this post other than a couple of short paragraphs.

The second milestone is that I’ve completed three months as the No.2 in the office. The journey has been pretty interesting because I’ve come dangerously close to being No. 1.1 for a couple of weeks. However, more about this in the next post because being No. 2 isn’t leaving much time for me to write on this blog or read. Last Sunday I had to go to office and could go to Abids only in the afternoon. Because of the Ramzan shopping the regular shops were open and there were few booksellers on the pavements. Nevertheless, along with Uma and Srikant I went around and managed to pick up a second copy of ‘Ten Novels and Their Authors’ by Somerset Maugham.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Sunday Haul

The Sunday before the last Sunday I was in a train returning from Goa. Since I was aware I wouldn’t be able to visit Abids on that day I tried to look into bookstores in Goa. Luckily at Candolim where I was staying I found Broadway Books and checked out a whole section of books selling for only a hundred rupees each. I came across Jonathan Safran Froer’s ‘Everything is Illuminated’ which, for some reason, I did not buy and am now regretting it. Though I saw a board before a shop on which it was written that books bought and sold I couldn’t check out the store since it was always closed. I did not buy any book at Goa and hence was disappointed.

Last Sunday, having missed a visit on the Sunday before that, I was eager to check out the books on the pavement. Luckily it did not rain and after our usual conversation over tea in an Irani, I set out with Uma and Shrikant. It was Uma who spotted the Manto book and let me have it. A couple of months ago I had missed buying another Manto book by Rakshanda Jalil but this time I did not want to let it go. I paid one hundred rupees for ‘Black Margins’ which is published by Katha Asia Library. There are about nineteen stories in the book including a story with the title on the cover. There are also other interesting articles relating to Saadat Hasan Manto who has written some of the greatest short stories ever written about Partition. I’ve read only ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and ‘Open It’ before I bought the book. Now I can look forward to read some more stories translated by various authors.