Friday, December 27, 2013

FRIDAY DOUBLE POST: Post - 2/2- 2013 Haul- 2

JULY ( 10 )

‘The Monsoons’ by PK Das
‘On Death and Dying’ by Elizabeth Kubler Ross
‘The First Time Cookbook’ by Janet Rizvi
‘After Leaving Mr. Mckenzie’ by Jean Rhys
‘What Uncle Sam Really Wants’ by Jean Rhys
‘Walking Shadow’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Dispatches’ by Michael Herr
‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf
‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
‘Collected Novellas’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

AUGUST ( 15 )

‘An Area of Darkness’ by VS Naipaul
‘Fearless Jones’ by Walter Mosley
‘Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen
‘The Land of Naked People’ by Madhusri Mukjerjee
‘Journey Without Maps’ by Graham Greene
‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe
‘Pearls are a Nuisance’ by Raymond Chandler
‘The Things They Carried’ by Tim O’Brien
‘Devil on the Cross’ by Ngugi
‘A Sort of Life’ by Graham Greene
‘Travel Arrangements’ by M. John Harrison
‘Hard Candy’ by Andrew Vachss
‘The Apprentice’ by Arun Joshi
‘The City and The River’ by Arun Joshi
‘The Apprentice’ by Arun Joshi

SEPTEMBER ( 18 )

‘Words’ by Jean Paul Sartre
‘Monsoons’ by PK Das
‘Fictions’ by Jorge Luis Borges
‘Writers on Writing- Collected Essays from New York Times
‘Write Away’ by Elizabeth George
‘Teach Us to Sit Still’ by Tim Parks
‘Le Grand Meaulnes’ by Alan Fournier
‘Mammoth Book of Journalism’
‘The Vagrant Mood’ by Somerset Maugham
‘Fiction of Arun Joshi’ by Various Eds
‘Dave Barry is Not Making This Up’ by Dave Barry
‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi
‘The Sea’ by John Banville
‘The Telugu Novel’ by Various Eds
‘The Women in Cages’ by Vilas Sarang
‘Get Shorty’ by Elmore Leonard
‘Red Leaves’ by Thomas H. Cook
‘Something to Declare’ by Julian Barnes

OCTOBER ( 11 )

‘Foundations of Screenplay’ by Syd Field
‘The Binding Vine’ by Shashi Deshpande
‘My Dark Places’ by James Ellroy
‘Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami
‘Either/Or’ by Soren Kierkegaard
‘The Counterfeiters’ by Andre Gide
‘Quiet Days in Clichy’ Arthur Miller
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
‘The Apprentice’ by Arun Joshi
‘Temptations of the West’ by Pankaj Mishra
‘The Thief’s Journal’ by Jean Genet

NOVEMBER (12)

‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad
‘The Long Firm’ by Jake Arnott
‘The Italian Girl’ by Iris Murdoch
‘The Generations’ by Neela Padmanabhan
‘Steel Hawk and Other Stories’ by Bhabani Bhattacharya
‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ by John Berendt
‘No Country for Old Men’ Cormac McCarthy
‘All the Way Home and All the Night Through’ by Ted Lewis
‘The Exchange’ by Theodore Wilden
‘Dakshin- Vegetarian Cuisine from South India’ by Chandra Padmanabhan
‘Fast Lanes’ by Jayne Anne Philips
‘Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits’ by Dave Barry

DECEMBER (22)

‘Writing of One Novel’ by Irving Wallace
‘Second Growth’ by Wallace Stegner
‘Venture to the Interior’ Laurens van der Post
‘Sun After Dark’ by Pico Iyer
‘Homes and Other Black Holes’ by Dave Barry
‘Dave Barry Turns 40’ by Dave Barry
‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro
‘How to Read and Why’ Harold Bloom
‘Oxford Essential Guide to Writing’
‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’ by Arun Joshi
‘Slow Motion Riot’ by Peter Blauner
‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
‘The View from Castle Rock’ by Alice Munro
‘School Days’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Two Lives’ by William Trevor
‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro
‘On Writing’ by Stephen King
‘The Story of Lucy Gault’ by William Trevor
‘A Stone for Danny Fisher’ by Harold Robbins
‘Tumbleweed’ by Janwillem van de Wetering
‘Exile’s Return’ by Malcolm Cowley
‘Points of View’ by Somerset Maugham

FRIDAY DOUBLE POST: Post- 1/2; 2013 HAUL-1

In 2013 I picked up a total of 167 books from Abids, second hand book sales and stores in Hyderabad and also at Delhi, Bangalore making it the biggest haul I’ve had so far. This haul doesn’t include a couple of books I bought online and also the books I received as gifts from friends and family. This list also includes multiple copies of books by my favourite authors like Dave Barry, Somerset Maugham, Arun Joshi .

Though the number of books seems very high I do not think I have spent more than five thousand rupees on them. In any case it may not be more than ten thousand rupees which isn’t much considering some of the wonderful titles that I’ve found. In another post I will list out some of the best finds of 2013. There will also be another post where I will list out all the 65 + books that I’ve managed to read during the year.

JANUARY ( 5 )
The Big Nowhere’ by James Ellroy
‘Problems and Other Stories’ by John Updike
The Road Less Travelled’ Scott M Peck
‘Small Vices’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Stories from the Warm Zone & Sydney Stories’ by Jessica Andersen

FEBRUARY ( 10 )
‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler
‘The Little Sister’ by Raymond Chandler
‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald
‘Blood Meridian’ by Cormac McCarthy
‘Islands’ by Alistair MacLeod
‘The Lost Salt Gift of Blood’ by Alistair MacLeod
‘Indian Summer’ by James Cameron
‘A Most Truthful Picture and Other Stories’ by Ashokamitran
‘Shining Through’ by Susan Isaacs
‘Dead and Gone’ by Andrew Vachss

MARCH ( 22)


‘Felicia’s Journey’ William Trevor
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ by Haruki Murakami
‘The Good Soldier’ by Ford Maddox Ford
‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi
‘Cider with Rosie’ Laurie Lee
‘Finding the Centre’ by VS Naipaul
’84 Charing Cross Road’ Helene Hanff
‘Screenwriting’ by Raymond G. Frensham
‘Andalucia ’ by Nicholas Luard
‘Dork’ by Sidin Vadukut
‘The Quran’
‘Coming Into the Country’ by John McPhee
‘Crazy Bombay’ by Gangadhar Gadgil
‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’ by Arun Joshi
‘The Last Labyrinth’ by Arun Joshi’
‘Early Autumn’ by Robert B. Parker
‘A Catskill Eagle’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Now and Then’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Four Graves and Other Stories’ by Manohar Malgonkar
‘The Woman and Other Stories’ by Gangadhar Gadgil
‘I Lost It at the Movies’ by Pauline Kael

APRIL ( 21 )

‘October Coup’ by Mohammed Hyder
‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys
‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham
‘Mahabharata’ by Shanta Rameshwar Rao
‘The Blind Rider’ by Juan Goytisolo
‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’ by Arun Joshi
‘The Maltese Falcon’ by Dashiell Hammett
‘The Taming of the Screw’ by Dave Barry
‘Travels with Herodotus’ by Ryszard Kapuscinski
‘The Colours of Evil’ by Ashokamitran
‘Austerlitz’ by W.G. Sebald
‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott
‘Collected Poems’ by AK Ramunajam
‘Anthills of the Savannah’ by Chinua Achebe
‘Red Harvest’ by Dashiell Hammett
‘The Gathering’ by Anne Enright
‘The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch’ by Anne Enright
‘Casino Moon’ by Peter Blauner
‘To Live or Not to Live’ by Nirad C. Chaudhri
‘Fiction Writer’s Handbook’ Hallie & Whit Burnett
‘The Foreigner’ by Arun Joshi

MAY ( 9 )

‘All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani
‘The Slow Train to Milan’ Lisa St Aubin de Teran
‘It Rained All Night’ by Buddhadeva Bose
‘Islands of the Marigold Sun’ by Suresh Vaidya
‘Stardust’ by Robert B. Parker
‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset Maugham
‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ by John Buchan
‘My Name is Aram’ by William Saroyan
‘Five Dollar Smile’ by Shashi Tharoor

JUNE ( 12 )

‘Poodle Spring’ by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker
‘Hindoo Holiday’ by AJ Ackerley
‘Arrow of God’ by Chinua Achebe
‘The Stone Cutter’ by Camilla Lackberg
‘The Harmony Silk Factory’ by Tash Aw
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey
‘Mahaprasthanam’ by Sri Sri
‘Khadga Srusthi’ by Sri Sri
‘The Shadow of the Sun’ by Ryszard Kapuscinski
‘Tigers are Better Looking’ by Jean Rhys
‘Shadow from Ladakh’ by Bhabani Bhattacharya
‘In Pharaoh’s Army’ by Tobias Wolff

Friday, December 20, 2013

FRIDAY DOUBLE POST/POST-2: THE SUNDAY HAUL


2013 looks like it is going to be the year when I have brought home the maximum number of books from Abids, second hand bookstores, book sales and other places. At last count after the visit to the Book fair I had bought a total of 175 books. In December alone, so far, I have bought about twenty books. Even after a good haul on the day before at the book fair I wanted to go to Abids. I cannot miss going to Abids on Sunday mornings for anything in the world.
‘A Stone for Danny Fisher’ by Harold Robbins is his only title that I haven’t read. It is a bit difficult to find a good copy of this book and a couple of years back I had found a good copy for a friend who wanted it. Someone told me it is one of the best books by Robbins so when I saw another good copy at Abids last Sunday I picked it up. I also got it quite cheap since I had to pay only thirty rupees for it. But though I am picking up books like I have all the time in the world to read them I do not know when I will read this book. I sometimes feel that I am stocking up books for retirement.
One of the joys of book hunting is picking up books by writers you haven’t heard about before and discovering them that not only they are good the whole world knows about them. On Sunday at a seller near the GPO I came across ‘Tumbleweed’ by Janwillem van der Wetering. I picked it up on a hunch and later after I read reviews I discovered that Wetering was one damn interesting writer. It felt nice to have found a good book and got it quite cheap. I plan to read the book before the end of the year since I plan to take a couple of days off. All my leaves are unused and I plan to use a couple of them to read and maybe, write.
Since the past one week I am on Legislature duty which meant I had to attend the Legislative Council on the days it meets. On Tuesday since the House was adjourned for the day I found myself with time on hand. I decided to check out the Best Books second hand bookstore that was just a minute’s ride away at Lakdikapul and see if I can find some books that one of my brothers wanted. I couldn’t find those books but I came across a book I had read only a few hours before. I had been reading about Malcolm Cowley on Arts and Letters Daily website and wondered if I could find any of his books. I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of ‘Exile’s Return’ by Malcolm Cowley on the shelf at the Best Books store and took it.

FRIDAY DOUBLE POST/POST- 1: The Book Fair Haul-2


After my first visit to the Hyderabad Book Fair on the very first day itself I did not get the time to visit until a week later. I was there on the penultimate day, on Saturday, sometime in the evening. Even after finding nine books on my first visit I did not seem content. I felt there were more books to be found in the second hand book stalls. On the previous visit I had seen a couple of books but I did not buy them. I had seen another good copy of Pico Iyer’s ‘Tropical Classical’, Murakami’s ‘Wild Sheep Chase’, Paul Theroux’s ‘The Tao of Travel’ that I did not buy because by then I had spent far too much on the nine books I had found before I saw these titles.
On my second visit I went around looking for these titles that I did not buy and needless to say, I did not find them. Instead I found other interesting titles. At one stall I found another Alice Munro title- ‘The View from Castle Rock’ that I was thrilled to find. I got the book quite cheap considering what I had paid for the first book. The seller gave this book to me for a hundred and fifty rupees. There are eleven stories in this book divided into two Parts. Part I titled ‘No Advantages’ has these stories ‘No Advantages, The View from Castle Rock, Illinois, The Wilds of Morris Township, Working for a Living’ Part II titled ‘Home’ has these stories- Fathers, Lying Under the Apple Tree, Hired Girl, The Ticket, Home, What Do You Want to Know For ?’ and under ‘Epilogue’ there’s one story titled ‘Messenger’. This is my fourth Alice Munro title. Earlier I had bought her ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ and ‘The Moons of Jupiter’ and recently on the first day of the book fair I had found ‘Runaway.’ At another stall I found a Robert B. Parker title that I do not have. I found his ‘School Days’ and got it for only fifty rupees.
Next day, Sunday, I went again for the third and last visit to the book fair. I went in the afternoon because it was the last day and I wanted to see if there is anything I might have missed on the previous two visits. I had never seen so many people visiting the book fair before. There were literally hundreds of bikes and scores of cars parked in the spacious grounds of the NTR Stadium where this year’s version of the Book fair was being held. I think it was a smart decision to shift the fair to the spacious grounds because not only were there more stalls they were spacious and also attracted thousands of visitors.

Later in another stall by a Chennai based seller I found another copy of ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro that I had found on the first visit. This copy had a different cover though and also I got it for only a hundred rupees for this book that was in excellent condition. On the first day I had paid two hundred rupees for the same title. I might gift this copy to a friend.
The next find was another title by an author whose book I had picked up on my first visit. I found William Trevor’s ‘The Story of Lucy Gault’ in a rack of books selling for fifty rupees only and it was a lucky find. This is the third William Trevor title that I’ve found till now. Sometime back I had found ‘Felicia’s Journey’ and on the first day of the fair I had found ‘Two Lives.’ However I am eager to find a short story collection by this wonderful writer.

The final find on the last day of the book fair was a nice copy of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ that I managed to get for a hundred and fifty rupees. I must have bought about a dozen copies of this book and must have given as many to friends and other people who wanted to be writers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Bookfair Haul

When it comes to events like book fairs and book sales not even a thousand horses can restrain me from going there on the first day itself. Needless to say, last Saturday, the 7th of December, I was present at the Hyderabad Book Fair much before the Governor had come to inaugurate it. Unlike the previous year this year’s book fair was in the grounds of the NTR Stadium that was on my way home. This was bigger than any book fair I have ever seen what with nearly three hundred stalls. There were the usual scenes I have seen on the first day, half opened stalls, sellers still arranging the furniture, the books, and the cartons of unopened books lying on the ground. The only difference was that there was no entrance fee as this year’s fair was sponsored by NBT.
I headed straight for the second hand book stores that were open and had some books on display and ended up with a nine-book haul that is sort of a minor record for me. In the first second hand book stall at the Fair I found a hard cover copy of ‘Sun after Dark’ by Pico Iyer that I already had but anyway bought though the price was a bit too steep for my pocket. I got the book for two hundred rupees. ‘
The second find at the Book fair was a real gem. At the bottom of a pile of books stacked on the ground at the foot of a table in a stall of a second hand book seller of Hyderabad I spotted a copy of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas’. I already have two copies of this book but this copy was the original copy published sometime in the 1970s. It was the cover that got me with its illustration of a man in bell bottoms and two women that reminded me of the 70’s. It was a lucky find that I got for just eighty rupees. The book wasn’t in perfect shape but I fixed it up later at home.
The third find at the Book fair was another treasure. In yet another second hand book stall I came across a nice copy of ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. I had been looking for this book since quite some time and had actually seen it at Blossoms in Bangalore in August but did not buy it because of the prohibitive price. I got this copy at the book fair for just a hundred rupees. This will be the first book of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie that I would be reading and I am looking forward to read the twelve stories in this collection. (Cell One, Imitation, A Private Experience, Ghosts, On Monday of Last Week, Jumping Monkey Hill, The Thing Around Your Neck, The American Embassy, The Shivering, The Arrangers of Marriage, Tomorrow is Too Far, and The Headstrong Historian.
The next find (the fourth of the haul) too was a collection of short stories and this was one by this year’s Nobel winner- Alice Munro. In a big stall put up by a Delhi based seller I found an almost brand new copy of ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro. However this didn’t come cheap because I had to pay two hundred rupees for it but I guess it is worth it. I felt really pleased at finding this collection that has eight stories which, surprisingly had single word titles- Runaway, Chance, Soon, Silence, Passion, Trespasses, Tricks, and Powers.
Next I found two books by one of my favourite authors- Dave Barry. I found his ‘Dave Barry Turns Forty’ and ‘Homes and Other Black Holes’ both titles that I already have. However, I picked up these copies too because they were in quite good condition and ‘DB Turns Forty’ was a hardcover copy. There’s always someone who can do with a bit of humour in his/her life and these copies are for such persons who I might meet.
I was going around the stalls carrying my six books in a small plastic bag that one of the sellers had given me. I was in a different stall whose owner stopped me and offered me a bigger bag to carry all my books. I refused but he insisted and took the bag from my hand and put it inside another nice and big bag which he gave back to me with a smile. I felt a bit embarrassed knowing what to do next since it was a stall where I couldn’t find anything to buy.
The seventh find was a serious book- Harold Bloom’s ‘How to Read and Why’ that I got quite cheap at only fifty rupees in another stall selling second hand books. I have read about Bloom but haven’t read anything by him till now so this might be my first introduction to Harold Bloom. I am glad I found it because I hope to find whether I read for the same reasons that Bloom talks about. If this find was about reading then the next find was about writing- Oxford Essential Guide to Writing- that I picked up though I already have a copy of it. I was getting it for only fifty rupees. The price wasn’t the only excuse for buying the book since I like to read as many books on writing and also pass them on to others like me. So in it went into the haul.
Sometime back I had picked up a crime fiction title on a hunch and after I read it I wanted to pat myself on the back for having picked up a book by a truly talented writer. The book was Peter Blauner’s ‘Casino Moon’ that I had finished reading only last month and that left me hungry for more books by Blauner. So when I saw another Blauner title- Slow Motion Riot- I grabbed it. I was lucky to have found it and luckier to have got it for just eighty rupees. With this title the haul went up to nine and I decided to call it a day and quit.
Outside I celebrated the nine book haul by having a sweet- Madugula halwa- that was being sold from inside a van kind of thing. On one of my trips to Visakhapatnam sometime in 2009 or so I had actually been to Madugula and had been offered almost a kilo of this wonderful sweet to take home. I was glad I got to taste this sweet once again after such a long time.



Friday, December 06, 2013

The Sunday Haul

The Sunday book bazaar at Abids is an open air affair. It all depends on the season’s weather how long you can hang around in the search for books. In the summer which can get pretty hot in Hyderabad, one cannot browse at leisure and in the monsoon season it depends on the rains whether the sellers would put the books on the pavements or not. In my view, winter is the best season to be at Abids on Sundays looking for books on the pavements. With the coming of December winter has begun in Hyderabad bringing down the temperatures a bit. Last Sunday, I was at Abids in the morning soaking in the sun rays after a couple of chais with Uma and Srikanth at our usual Irani joint.
While looking in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees I found a small book that had a photocopy of the original cover and not exactly in a good condition. There were a couple of termite holes all the way up to the last page. Normally I wouldn’t pick up such copies but when I saw the title I decided, on a hunch, to pick it up. It was ‘Venture to the Interior’ by Laurens van der Post. It was a travelogue of the writer’s journey in Africa which got my interest and apart from it; the book was published by Penguin Books in association with Hogarth Press that made me buy it. I thought it would be a title worth reading. Coincidentally, yesterday I began reading Graham Greene’s ‘Journey Without Maps’ that I had picked up at Blossoms in Bangalore sometime in August. While reading the introduction by Paul Theroux I was thrilled to find this title mentioned. I was glad I picked it up.
The second find in an adjoining heap of books at the same place was Wallace Stegner’s ‘Second Growth’ that was almost brand new. I bought this title too. The third and final find of Sunday was ‘The Writing of One Novel’ by Irving Wallace that I got for twenty rupees. I already have a couple of copies of this title but I couldn’t resist buying this copy too. With these three titles the total number of books I had bought during the year goes up to 157. Tomorrow the Hyderabad Book Fair begins and I might pick up another half a dozen books at least there at the Book Fair which means that I might end the year with nearly 170 books or so as the annual haul.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Sunday Haul

The short story collections on my book shelf have now grown to more than a dozen titles. It is still growing with one or two titles being added every two months or so. I am finding good titles at Abids and I have made it a point not to miss any collection of short stories by writers I haven’t heard about. Last Sunday I found a slim book- ‘Fast Lanes’ by Jayne Anne Philips- that turned out to be a collection of just seven short stories- How Mickey Made It, Rayme, Fast Lanes, Bluegill, Something That Happened, Blue Moon, and Bess . I haven’t ever heard of Jayne Anne Philips before but I did not hesitate to buy this title since I was getting it for only twenty rupees. It was worth more than that since the title story that I read first was very good.
One of the best things to happen in my life is coming across Dave Barry’s writing. Reading just one paragraph of his is enough to bring me back from the darkest of my moods and leave me in splits. The second find of Sunday was another title that I probably must have bought several copies of- Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits’’ by Dave Barry. I like this book tremendously and give it to anyone who appears interested after I tell him/her that Dave Barry is one of the funniest writers in the world. Recently I read his ‘Money Secrets’ that I had found at the Hyderabad Book Fair last year and needlessly to say it is very, very funny. ‘Boogers are My Beat’ is the only Dave Barry title I do not have and I hope I find it very soon somewhere.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Sunday Haul

Somewhere on the top of my ‘Most Wanted’ titles is Ted Lewis’s ‘Get Carter’ that I have been trying to find since a couple of years. Ever since I found a screenplay of ‘Get Carter’ I have kept my eyes peeled for the book whenever I go book hunting in Abids and elsewhere. So far I haven’t been able to find it but last Sunday I came close. I found ‘All the Way Home and All the Night Through’ which, I read somewhere, is the first novel written by Ted Lewis and also a title that is not very easy to find. I am quite pleased that I found this book at Abids and paid only thirty rupees for it.
The second find of Sunday was a crime fiction title by an author I haven’t heard before-Theodore Wilden. I picked up solely on the basis of the cover which was arresting and also had Eric Ambler’s endorsement on it. I hope it turns out to be a good read for the twenty five rupees I paid for it. The third find too I bought for the cover alone but this wasn’t any other book but a book of recipes. I got Chandra Padmanabhan’s ‘dakshin’ for just forty rupees. It was published in 1992 and looks quite attractive. I hope the recipes in it are just as good.
I read in the papers that an event that I eagerly wait for -the Hyderabad Book Fair- will be held this year from 7-15 December at NTR Stadium instead of the usual venue at People’s Plaza on Necklace Road. I am filled with excitement as well as with some trepidation because I do not know how many books I will find at the fair that I have to absolutely buy. I have already begun the countdown and I want to be there on the very first day. Since it would be in the first week of the month I’d be with a full wallet which means I can buy whatever book I like. But before that I have to somehow make space for all the books I plan to buy at the Book Fair.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Sunday Haul


Sometime in 2011 I had picked up ‘Stephen Fry in America’ by Stephen Fry, the humor writer, at Abids and about a couple of months back I finished reading. In it I came across a mention of John Berendt’s ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ and as is my habit I jotted down the title in my notebook. Last Sunday at Abids I found this book and bought it. It did not come cheap and I had to pay a hundred rupees for it. I have to start reading it one of these days.
During my first visit to Dehra Dun sometime in June this year I had found Bhabani Bhattacharya’s ‘Shadow from Ladakh’ at a second hand book store somewhere in the bazaars of Dehra Dun. I bought it because of two reasons- one was that it won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1967 and the other reason was that I got it for only twenty rupees. Even before I could read it I found another book by the same author at Abids last Sunday. This was a collection of short stories titled ‘Steel Hawk and Other Stories’ that I got for twenty rupees. It contains fifteen stories : Glory at Twilight, Public Figure, My Brave Great-Uncle, Lattu Ram’s Adventure, Names are Not Labels, Pictures in the Fire, Mere Monkeys, A Moment of Eternity, Just Coincidence?, The Acrobats, The Quack, The Faltering Pendulum, Pilgrims in Uniform, She, Born of Light, and Steel Hawk. This was published by Orient Paperbacks.
I am becoming rather fond of Orient Paperbacks because they have published so many good books in the past including all titles of my favorite writer, Arun Joshi. I found another Orient Paperback title along with ‘Steel Hawk’ which was Neela Padmanabhan’s ‘The Generations’ which was a translation from Tamil by Kaa Naa Subramanyam. I haven’t read much Tamil literature or Tamil writers except Ashokamitran. It is neither very long nor very short, but at 192 pages it seems to be readable in a day. Some day when I get a holiday I plan to read this book.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Double Post: 1- The Diwali Haul

The Sunday before last Sunday which was the day I had to go to the office I could go to the book bazaar at Abids for an hour or so only in the evening. During the one hour I spent there I managed to find just one book- Jean Genet’s ‘The Dairy of a Thief’ that I got for twenty rupees. It was an autobiography/memoir by Genet.
Last Sunday it was Diwali but we went to Abids nevertheless though all the shops were open. Surprisingly, almost all the book sellers were present putting up their wares in some corner or the other. Before I got to Abids, at Chikkadpalli I picked up the first find of the day. It was Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Secret Agent’ that I got for thirty rupees. At another seller at Chikkadpally I found the second book which was Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Italian Girl’ that I got for only ten rupees.
Later at Abids we had our usual cup of chai, talked for a while and cribbed about how ‘The Hindu’ had declared a holiday that day, which was the first Sunday of the month and unfairly deprived us of the pleasure of reading ‘The Literary Review’ that is brought out on that day. I wondered why The Hindu’’ could not have issued TLR on Saturday when it could issue the Classified Ad pages and Habitat supplements with the Saturday’s issue. It is proof that for the newspapers the advertisers matter more than the readers. Anyway, after some serious griping we left for our hunt for good titles.
Sometime last year I had found Jake Arnott’s ‘True Crime’ that I read and found to be very good. I had read then that he had written other books too but I did not expect to find any of his books and anyway I had forgotten all about him until Sunday when I came across another Jake Arnott titleby him. It was ‘The Long Firm’ that I found in a bunch of books being sold for just ten rupees.

Friday Dopuble Post: 2- On Getting an Award

Last Friday, on the occasion of AP Formation Day, I got an ├Źncentive Award’’ that I had the privilege of receiving from the Chief Minister himself at a public function. It was a big moment for me and I was happy especially since the award included twenty thousand rupees along with a certificate. This was the biggest award in my almost twenty years of service and I am very pleased that I got it since I can now retire with some satisfaction. The irony is that I never wanted to be in the Government service in the first place and I still do not want to. But since I’ve been here for two decades I guess I will hang on for another couple of years and then maybe take voluntary retirement. Afterwards, I want to travel and also write.
The Sunday before the previous Sunday you should have seen me, or more particularly, my face. You’d have seen the sullen face of someone who had been working round the clock for almost a week without a break, without anything of a social or a family life, of someone filled with resentment for having forced to work on holidays also, especially Sunday, of someone who isn’t eating properly at the proper times, of someone who isn’t sleeping well. It was the face of someone who was pissed off with what his work was extracting from him. Sunday was the day when this anger and resentment peaked since I was told I had to come to the office for the whole day. The week long rains and floods had turned my life upside down what with hundreds of calls to attend and hundreds of chores to manage. I did not mind all this because there were people out there actually suffering due to the continuous heavy downpour and floods. I did not know what was making me angry. Sometime recently when I sat and listed out the probable reasons I realized it was my mobile phone that was making me angry. Every time I got a call on the mobile phone or had to make a call I had to go out of my house and do it which filled me with unusual anger against Airtel. I do not understand how they can claim to offer coverage all over the country when I cannot get signals in the heart of the city.

Anyway, after I heard the news about the incentive award I calmed down. But I am not able to stop thinking how anyone thought I deserved the award when I did not do anything extraordinary and just did what I was expected to do.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Sunday Super Haul


In this year by the end of September, I noticed that I have bought exactly one hundred and thirty five books. All of the with the exception of a couple of books are second hand books that I picked off the pavements at Abids on Sundays. I’ve found some good ones at Chikkadpally too and also at second hand bookstores and at sale of secondhand books. When I realized I had bought too many books I thought I’d go a little easy on my book buying at Abids. I’ve made similar resolves in the past but somehow the week I’ve made such resolution I happen to find books that I absolutely cannot resist buying. Last Sunday full of such a resolve I set out for Abids with the intention of returning home empty handed. But even before I got to Abids, at Chikkadpally itself, I came up with a super haul of five books.

The first book I saw was one I had seen earlier at Abids many years ago but somehow hadn’t bought it. This time I did not want to miss Henry Miller’s ‘Quiet Days in Clichy’ which was in a good condition. The second book I saw was Andre Gide’s ‘The Counterfeiters’’ and the third book was Soren Kierkegaard’s ‘Either/Or’ two books by writers I am nervous to read. Anyway I bought them along with a good copy of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ that I already own. I have this habit of buying multiple copies of some books. I had to pay quite a large sum for these books but I did not regret since they are all good books and I wouldn’t have forgiven myself I had not bought those books.

At Abids the first book I saw and also bought was Pankaj Mishra’s ‘Temptations of the West’ that I did not exactly want to buy since it was quite a hefty tome though I wanted to read it. I offered to pay a ridiculous price for it and to my surprise the seller agreed to it which was even more ridiculous. I was glad that I got the book at my price. After finding all these books I was on a sort of high. However at the back of my mind was the doubt whether I would be able to find time to finish reading all the books I was buying since I am in a job where I am not finding much time for things like reading books or watching television.

The surprise find of the day was a book I had been searching all along and had also found recently at Delhi. I came upon a reasonably decent copy of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Apprentice’ that I knew I’d find someday at Abids. I already have two new copies of this title that I found at Delhi at the Book Fair sometime in September this year. This buy capped off the Sunday’s haul that was one of the best hauls of the year. However, I now have a hundred and forty one books added to my ever growing collection.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The ‘Phailin’


I’ve been a little more than three years in this department and have handled a couple of cyclones (Jal, Thane and Nilam) but hadn’t felt so nervous or tense as I was last week when ‘Phailin’ was on its way towards the State. I spent a hectic week at the office making and taking calls from so many people, attending meetings called by the Chief Secretary, the Minister and also the Chief Minister, preparing notes for these meetings which made me more tense than I usually am even on normal days. Another thing was that due to Dasara festival we had three days of holidays in a row and all those three days I was in the office.

Anyway, whenever there is a major weather event like a depression or a cyclone developing in the sea surrounding the country, the India Meteorological Department or the IMD in short, sends bulletins regarding the formation, movement, intensity, and other information to the States likely to be affected. On October, 8th we got the first IMD bulletin about a weather system developing in the Bay of Bengal and over the next few days the bulletins became more frequent as the low pressure system developed into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ and the bulletins were upgraded from Orange to Red category indicating danger. With the increasing frequency of the bulletins of the IMD and the forecast therein which said the cyclone ‘Phailin’ would most likely hit the coast between our State and Odisha our nervousness increased. We warned everyone we could and took all measures possible to face the cyclone. Even the Prime Minister’s office was monitoring the cyclone ‘Phailin’ which had by then played out by the media which was a good thing because people on the coast took precautions. In AP 1.3 lakh people were evacuated in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts. We had two IAF helicopters on standby. There were five columns of the Army on way to these districts to help out in case the State’s resources weren’t enough. We had the NDRF too.

However, much to everyone's relief, Phailin did not cause much damage as feared and resulted in one unfortunate death and also some loss to crops like coconut, cashewnut, vegetables in Srikakulam district only. Now the relief work going on and also the process of identifying who lost what and suffered what damage so that it can be compensated. For once, everyone appreciated the Government, the IMD and others. It is the Collectors in the districts who have to be appreciated because they were on the field and took decisions that saved lives and also property. The Collector of Ganjam did not sleep for four days. IMD should get all the credit and appreciation for standing its ground with its prediction that was proved right ultimately. Other Western meteorological agencies created unnecessary panic with their wrong predictions and I am proud that for once IMD stumped them.

The Sunday Haul


Since I was at office last Sunday because of the Phailin cyclone it wasn’t possible for me to make my usual Sunday trip to Abids to hunt for books. I hadn’t posted on Friday about the haul on the previous Sunday too because of the same reason. I am just putting up the pictures of the books I found with the minimum explanation.
The first find was Syd Field’s ‘Screenplay’ at Chikkadpally and which I got for only thirty rupees. I already have a copy of this book but I bought it not because I thought having two copies would make me a better screenwriter but for the price. I haven’t come across any title of Syd Field for nothing less than three hundred bucks anywhere in Abids or second hand bookstores in Hyderabad.
The second find was Shashi Deshpande’s ‘The Binding Vine’ that I found at Abids for fifty rupees. I found James Ellroy’s ‘My Dark Places’ which is an autobiography next and got it for hundred bucks. The last find was a treasure- Murakami’s ‘Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ that I got from a seller at RTC X-Roads for only hundred rupees. Interestingly, this is the second Murakami title I found at this particular seller.
I am pleased that I have two titles of this year’s Nobel winner-Alice Munro. I have ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ and also ‘Moons of Jupiter’ that I have read long back.

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Sunday Haul

Of late all the crime fiction titles by writers who I haven’t heard before and that I picked up recently are proving to have been pretty good choices. Some time back I had picked up Peter Blauner’s ‘Casino Moon’ that I found to be extremely good. Then there was Harry Dolan’s ‘Bad Things Happen’ that I picked up again quite a long time and that I read last week and found to be very impressive. It has got me into the habit of picking up such titles by unfamiliar (to me) writers. Last Sunday I picked up ‘Red Leaves’ by Thomas H. Cook based on the cover and the blurbs at the back. I haven’t seen any title by this writer whose name is completely unfamiliar to me. I got it for thirty rupees and I hope I find it worth it.
The second find was a classic crime fiction title by my favorite writer- Elmore Leonard- ‘Get Shorty’ of which I have several copies already. I bought the title I saw on Sunday just because the cover was an entirely different one and a cover that I had not seen earlier. I will give this copy to someone who hasn’t heard of Elmore Leonard till now. I don’t think there will be anyone among my friends since I have told all of them about EL and his titles.
The third find was another good find- a book of essays by Julian Barnes titled ‘Something to Declare’ which I got pretty cheap. It has the following seventeen essays- An Englishman Abroad, Spending Their Deaths on Holiday, The Promises of Their Ordination, The Land Without Brussels Sprouts, Tour de France 1907, The Pouncer, French Letters, Flaubert’s Death-Masks, Not Drowning But Waving: The Case of Louise Colet, Drinking Ink, Two Moles, Consolation v Desolation, Tail-Flaying, The Cost of Conscientious Literature, Faithful Betrayal, and A Small Major Character.
The final item in the Haul was a nice present by Jai. He had told me sometime back that he had finished translating a Kannada novel and that it was published recently. But I forgot all about until last Sunday when Jai suddenly took out a book from his bag and gave it to me. It was a signed copy of the English translation of Rodda Vyasrau Venkatrau’s Kannada novel ‘Chandramukhiya Ghatavu’, originally published in the year 1900 and which Jai has translated into English. It was one of the first few novels published in the country in Kannada and I could finish reading the novel in less than twenty minutes because the novel doesn’t exceed thirty pages. It was a bilingual edition and since I cannot read Kannada I read the English version. Hats off to Jai for undertaking the translation.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trip No-12: 9 1/2 Hours in Bhubaneswar


Bhubaneswar is one of the many places I haven’t been to so far in my life. There are a lot of such cities I am yet to visit. Quite by chance I got to go to Bhubaneswar on Monday on office work. I was there for less than ten hours reaching there at about quarter to ten in the morning and leaving at quarter past seven in the evening. In those nine and half hours I packed in a little bit site-seeing.
The weather was pretty nice when I landed at Bhubaneswar in the morning. The meeting was at a place called Mayfair Lagoon and when I got there the meeting had already begun. The hotel was pretty opulent as I was to discover later in the day. The meeting lasted until lunch time and afterwards we were told we were free. I was booked to return on a flight at seven in the evening so I had almost five hours to kill. I set out to find if I could locate any second hand bookstores to browse. We were told there were a few shops somewhere near Ram Mandir but when we got there I discovered that they sold only text books. The shopkeepers were unhelpful and were unwilling to even open their mouths to speak. I decided to abandon the quest and instead do some sight-seeing.
In the meeting we were told that Bhubaneswar was a city of temples with more than five hundred temples. We asked an autorickshaw driver to take us to the biggest temple. I noticed that the city had wide roads and seemed pretty planned. I remembered that someone at the meeting had told us that after Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar was the second planned city in the country. It certainly appeared to be well planned since I did not see any high rise buildings but only quaint old buildings everywhere. There were no traffic problems so our journey was non-stop until we reached the Lingaraj temple.
I have seen temples but I haven’t seen a temple like the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar. It was so ancient and so massive that my eyes boggle for a few moments. Inside the temple compound were smaller shrines and temples everywhere. Another thing was that there were hundreds of bronze figurines of a coiled cobra with its hood spread lying around in the smaller shrines. The temple was so ancient I was surprised it was intact all these centuries. It looked like it was at least a thousand years old. Since we weren’t allowed to take our mobile phones or camera inside I was content to click a few snaps of people sitting under a massive peepal tree right outside the temple, playing cards or just sitting.

I got back to Mayfair Lagoon to freshen up in someone’s room. The hotel was another wonder with so many corridors anyone new would be lost in that maze. It was an opulent hotel with some pretty eye-catching stuff on display. There was an antique car at one place and another place had an ancient propeller plane on display. I regretted not coming a day earlier and spending a night in that magnificent hotel. The room tariff, I noticed, began from Rs 10000. I was driven back to the airport that was just a fifteen minute drive away from the city.

Visit to Taj Falaknuma Palace

In the course of my office work I wouldn’t ever expect to visit the Taj Falaknuma Palace but last week I was there on work which was something of a minor miracle. I had been eager to check out the place ever since I read about the TFP in Conde Nast Traveller and seen some of the pictures in it.

There are several places in Hyderabad I haven’t been to due to various reasons. Some of these places are where I cannot afford to go. One such place was Taj Falaknuma Palace where I wouldn’t have any business as a government employee. But there I was driving up to the TFP along with my boss last week. Someone from the Aga Khan Foundation wanted to talk to my boss so I tagged along. I hadn’t expected TFP to take my breath away.

Located on a hillock, up a sweeping a drive, the magnificent palace has a bird’s eye view of the city that you cannot get from anywhere else. The palace itself is regal and the Taj Group has refurbished it so well one cannot but admire it. The CM was to take part in the meeting so I idled until the dignitary arrived watching the cops and others. Every guest there got a royal welcome with men dressed like attendants of yore escorting you up the stairs holding some kind of a mast in their hands. A shower of petals greets the surprised guest as they walk up the steps towards the reception. We did not get it since we weren’t staying there. Anyway, to cut a long story short while I did not exactly have a gala time there I was glad about the view. An added bonus was getting to watch a bevy of beautiful models walk past. Later I learnt from the papers that the next day Sabyasachi Mukherjee was having some kind of show at the TFP.

The Sunday Haul

The Sunday before, I had stupidly decided not to pick up a copy of Vilas Sarang’s ‘The Women in Cages’ that was on the pavements with one of the sellers. It was a Penguin and though I was aware that it would be a good book I did not buy it. Then later in the evening I began to regret not buying it and promised to buy it if I find it again at the same place. Luckily, last Sunday the book was still there. I noticed that it wasn’t in a good condition and that there was some damage on the bottom of the book where some of the pages seemed to have been eaten by termites. But it had all the pages intact otherwise so I took it for a hundred rupees.
‘The Women in Cages’ has twenty six stories under five different categories. Some of the stories are: An Evening at the Beach, An Afternoon Among the Rocks, Musk Deer, An Excursion, On the Stone Steps, A Revolt of the Gods, The Missing Link, The Women in Cages, The Odour of Immortality, Om Phallus, An Interview with M.Chakko, Barrel and Bombil: A Love Story, Flies, Spider in the Cock, Rabbit, The End of History, Testimony of An Indian Vulture, Return, Kalluri’s Escapade, The Terrorist, A Tale of Two Generals, Tree of Death, The Phonemate, Letters from Nikhil, The Life and Death of Manu, and The Departure.
Since a long time I had been meaning to read a Telugu novel called ‘Chillara Devullu’ written by Daasarathi Rangacharya but I was unable to find it at Abids. ‘Asamarthuni Jeevayatra’ by Tripuraneni Gopichand is another Telugu novel that I want to read. I want to read the original Telugu versions which I am somehow unable to find anywhere. Last Sunday at Abids I found a wonderful book called ‘Telugu Novel’ by an organization called ‘Yuva Bharathi’ that had essays in English on a few well known Telugu novels. Apart from ‘Chillara Devullu’ and ‘Asamarthuni Jeevayatra’ there were critical essays on more than ten novels including ‘Veyi Padagalu.’ I plan to read these essays first and decide which other novels I have to read. I got this book for just twenty rupees but it is an invaluable find.