Friday, October 26, 2012
One would think that booklovers like me would be happy after a trip to a bookstore arms filled with books. Not me though because I feel depressed after I step out of a bookstore even though I have bought a couple of books. I’m unhappy because of all the books I have left behind without buying. I wish I had enough money to buy all the books I want to buy and read, of course.
Friday, October 19, 2012
When the festival season begins it is bad news for the second hand book sellers at Abids in Hyderabad. Starting from the week before Dasara and upto end of Diwali all shops at Abids are open even on Sundays. It is on Sundays that the second hand booksellers of sell books on the pavements of Abids. Abids being a prime shopping center otherwise, the shops are open on Sundays. Last Sunday however only a couple of the regular shops were open which meant that the second hand book sellers were present in full strength. We (me, Uma and Srikant) started off with the hunt after our usual tea and biscuits at the Irani, at around half past eleven. The beautiful, mildly sunny morning appeared promising.
Unlike my previous postings where I could travel to many interesting places including villages, in this Secretariat posting I seem to be destined to travel to only one place- New Delhi. In the two years that I have been in the Secretariat I’ve been to Delhi five times. I was there for the sixth time last week. It gets a bit monotonous going to the same place every time but I do not mind it because the spin-off is that I can visit my brother’s family. Of course, there’s the fact that I’ll be flying at Government expense. This time however there was another reason I was looking forward to the trip. I had planned to read Sidin Vadukut’s ‘Who Let the Dork Out’ (which is the third book in the Dork trilogy) during the two hour early morning flight from Hyderabad to Delhi. However, to my surprise, the WH Smith store at RGIA airport did not have the book and I wasn’t inclined to buy other books. Disappointed, I sat during the entire journey trying to read as many newspapers as I could. I was attending a National level workshop on behalf of my boss who happens to be a Principal Secretary. As the plane neared Delhi my anxiety grew. I began to have visions of even more higher people asking me to state the views of the State and it began to make me even more nervous. As it is I had another reason to be anxious. After the plane landed I took a prepaid taxi and rushed to the venue. The workshop had just begun. I noticed that the hall was filled with a lot of top brass from other States and also the Government of India. I decided that the best policy was to stay mum amongst these distinguished people. So I did not speak much or distinguish myself in any way or do anything to make sit up and take notice. I must have also set some kind of a record. Other participants may be have been Principal Secretaries and other high level officials but I was the only one participating in the workshop carrying something none of the participants may have even dreamt of bringing to the workshop. When I was told I had to go to Delhi I had called my brother to inform him that I was coming over, and told him to ask my mother if she wanted anything to be brought from Hyderabad. After my mother told me what she wanted me to bring from Delhi I wished I hadn’t made that call. She told me to bring jowar atta, all four kilograms of it. I couldn’t say no (no one can say ‘no’ to one’s mother) and agreed to bring it without a second thought. Since I’d be leaving on Friday morning and returning on Saturday I packed only a small bag. The cargo of jowar atta in my bag did not excite the curiosity of the security at RGIA. At Delhi the venue of the workshop was Vigyan Bhawan which is guarded like a fortress with cops crawling all over the place. When my bag passed the scanner, the lady cop asked me, hesitantly, what was in the bag. I told her. She asked me to take out the bags. She asked me what’s so special about the jowar atta while carefully looking at the plastic one kg bags. Her colleague advised her to smell the flour. Maybe they thought I’d be carrying some kind of explosive in form of powder. They all had expressions like they couldn’t believe someone could come to a meeting carrying jowar atta. I was a bit embarrassed about the whole thing but mercifully I was let inside. It was an educative workshop though for me since I got the chance to observe how the top brass go through policy issues with a fine comb. I listened carefully, taking down notes, and referring to the material I was given. It went on until five in the evening with two short breaks for tea and of course, for lunch which was nothing special. May people left after lunch and I too was tempted but I stayed on until the end. At half past five or so I walked out relieved that the official part of the trip was finally over. After I stepped out of the workshop the personal part began. I put my bag at a place where I was to meet another officer and took off for Connaught Place. Whenever I am in New Delhi I make it a point to visit CP to make sure I am really in New Delhi. The place was still in a mess with dug up roads, earth movers noisily excavating, and dust everywhere. I walked around and managed to buy two notebooks of a local brand called Shipra. I ended the short jaunt with a steaming cup of coffee at Saravanas on Janpath where I noticed ‘Jain Sambar’ is now available. I had already started on the coffee or else I would have ordered something just to find out how ‘Jain Sambar’ tastes. Maybe on my next visit I will get the chance. Later, I met another officer who offered me his car so I could go to my brother’s place at CR Park. Khan Market was on the way so I decided to have a quick walk around and see if I can find ‘Who Let the Dork Out’. Since my recent visit to Khan Market about six months ago it seemed to have become more posh. At a bookstore there I was told Sidin Vadukut’s latest book is yet to be launched which was news to me. I had read somewhere that the book was on the shelves already. At a toy store I found something to take home for my kid and started off for CR Park in the cab. I spent a pleasant evening with my brother’s family and my mother who was quite happy that I got her the jowar atta. On the flight back home on Saturday morning there was Yuvraj Singh in the plane who was inundated with requests for autographs inside the plane as well as at the airport in Hyderabad. I forgot to ask because I was anxious about the large bag I had brought along. It weighed quite a lot and belonged to someone to whom also, just like my mother, I couldn’t say no. Only after I had entrusted the bag to another person was I able to breathe easy. On the whole it was a nice trip.
Friday, October 12, 2012
This blog is now listed in the Best Indian Bloggers directory.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Not a week passes in my life without buying at least one book and last week was no exception. There seemed to be no possibility of going to the second hand book bazaar Abids in view of the crowds expected for the political rally on Sunday. I decided to check out the Best Books sale at YMCA since it was the last day of the sale. I had picked up only a couple of books during the fortnight long sale and wasn’t exactly looking for more books to buy because there did not seem to be any in the sale. This sale appeared dull and insipid with an uninteresting collection of books laid out. I found that most of the books I had seen on my earlier visits were sold out. I did not buy any book but spend close to two hours looking closely at each and every title for something interesting. Sadly, I did not find anything worth buying. In contrast, though the seller whos has put up a few shelves at Sangeet had a surprise in store. There was a new copy of Amitav Ghosh’s ‘In An Antique Land’ that I wanted to buy. The price did not seem right for a copy that had a few defects though the overall condition was almost new-like. I hesitated for a long time and since I was reluctant to return home without a book I settled on another book. The book I bought was ‘Flying Visits’ by Clive James that was a collection of travel pieces that had appeared in ‘Observer’ in the seventies. It seemed an interesting book and so I got it for forty rupees wich was all that I was prepared to spend on books last Sunday because it was the last day of the month. Even as I was writing this post and preparing to put it up on the blog there was a message on my mobile phone from the Best Books people. It contained the good news that their sale at YMCA, Secunderabad had been extended up to 15th October and added that newer titles were now in sale. This news calls for a couple more visits to the sale which might result in more books being added to my already over laden bookshelves. I hope they have added some really interesting titles.