It is four days since I returned from a trip that took me to Bangalore and I am unable to believe I’ve been so lucky while I had been there. All the claims that I’ve been making so long that I am lucky when it comes to finding good titles weren’t so light after all. Otherwise what luck can explain being sent (by plane, no less) to the very city that I’ve been wishing to visit of late. I had been dreaming of making a trip to Bengaluru to look for books in a few stores like Select, Blossoms etc., but for some reason it wasn’t materializing. Then last Saturday, in an incredibly lucky manner, I got an opportunity to be in Bengaluru where I hauled in five good titles.
Just a day before, on Friday a colleague who was supposed to make that trip backed out at the last minute and I was asked to go in his place. I was supposed to receive a team of officials coming from Delhi at Bangalore and accompany them to villages in the districts of AP bordering Bengaluru. In a move that I can only now call as smart I decided to reach Bengalure in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day meeting a friend and also browse in bookstores on the MG Road and Brigade Road. Everything went according to plan. I reached Bengaluru by noon and went to the hotel where I had lunch. Afterwards, I took along the guy who had come to receive me and together we went to MG Road first. While I was unable to meet my friend I found five good titles after browsing through just three book stores.
The first place I went to was ‘Book Worms’ on MG Road where I found two books. Here I found another title that I was desperate to find and read since a long time- Dashiell Hammett’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’ that I was very thrilled to find. I got it at a steep price though, at Rs 235. The next find was a Dave Barry title that I do not have in my collection of Dave Barrys. I found ‘Taming of the Screw’ and got it for a price that I found too high for Hyderabadi standards. But I wasn’t complaining since I would not have found these titles, at least not ‘The Maltese Falcon’ at Abids in Hyderabad.
Next stop was Select Bookstore, just a few steps away, on Brigade Road. Inside the two cramped rooms filled with books both old and not so old I looked in vain for other titles by Arun Joshi. I had hoped to find at least one Arun Joshi title there so I was sort of disappointed I couldn’t find any. But I found another title by Ryscard Kapuscinski that I do not have- ‘Travels with Herodotus’ that was a real treasure. I also picked up another Ashokamitran title that I hadn’t heard of- ‘The Colours of Evil’ that was a good copy. Both these books did not come exactly cheap though once again I wasn’t complaining. However I was a bit worried, wondering, having already found four good titles, if I’d find some more books at the next bookstore, which was Blossoms on Church Street, quite close by.
Honestly, though I have seen quite big bookstores, I wasn’t prepared for the sight that Blossoms presented- three storeys packed with miles of shelves stacked to the hilt with books, books and more books. Not only was I staggered at the sight of so many books I also lost my memory for some time. After I found that the store had a computer search facility on each floor I thought it made my job easier considering how little time I had. I had no time to go through all the shelves at Blossome. But when I tried to recollect some of the books on my ‘Must Buy’ list I had on my notebooks back home I could remember neither the name of a single title or the name of a single author that I wanted to read. After a great struggle to recollect only WG Sebald’s name came to mind. I told the young and helpful girl at the computer to look for his books. The search threw up ‘Austerlitz’ as available. I almost gave a whoop of joy at that news. While I looked for other titles in the shelves the girl went to look for the copy of WG Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’ elsewhere in the store. I saw a decent copy of Pico Iyer’s ‘Tropical Classical’ and also Lajos Egri’s ‘The Art of Dramatic Writing’ that I did not buy. After sometime the girl returned with a fat book, a Penguin edition of ‘Auserlitz’ that was priced at Rs 180, which is very, very cheap considering how difficult it is to find Sebald’s books. Not many know about this marvelous writer.
‘Austerlitz’ was the best find on the Bengaluru trip and next comes ‘The Maltese Falcon’ both which I had not expected to find. Though these five books burned a rather large hole in my pocket I thanked my lucky stars for putting this trip in my way. For once I did not regret being away from Hyderabad on a Sunday because I would miss my Abids trip. The next day was Sunday and the second leg of my trip began and also ended on Sunday. It was an arduous trip before me but the thought that I had five good books in my bag comforted me.