When it comes to finding good books I know I am lucky. Not just lucky, but sometimes very, very lucky. Of course, apart from luck it also helps that I have been rootling around for books at Abids for more than two decades and also possess quite a sharp eye for good titles. Last Sunday at Abids all this came into play when I literally struck gold finding a hard-to-get classic by a little known writer. Though I spent hardly an hour at Abids I managed to grab three good books including the treasured title.
After a quick cup of chai at our usual Irani joint we set out to find the best pickings from among the thousands of books on the pavements of Abids. In the last week of April, during a meet of the Hyderabad group of ‘goodreads’ someone had mentioned Buddhadeva Bose’s “It Rained All Night” and said it was worth reading. My first find on Sunday was a decent copy of “It Rained All Night” that I got for fifty rupees. It was a good start to Sunday and I thought I wouldn’t find any more and also did not wish to buy more books.
Lisa St Aubin De Teràn was a name I had neither heard nor read about before. But when I saw ‘The Slow Train to Milan’ by Lisa St Aubin De Teràn I had the feeling that it could be a good book. The fact that it was a Penguin title only added to my hunch. It was in a scattered pile of books selling for thirty rupees. After I picked up the book I read the blurbs at the back- ‘She writes quite beautifully- The Times; ‘A Writer of enormous gifts’- Daily Telegraph. I added it to my haul without another thought.
The last find- the treasure- happened quite serendipitously. There’s a seller just beside the Abids GPO, on the road to Hotel Grand who puts up a few books for sale. The previous Sunday we had found Basharat Peer’s ‘Curfewed Nights’ that Uma took. I thought maybe we’d take a quick peek at his collection so we took a few more steps towards the seller. He had a spread of treasures- one MG Vassanji, two Nadeem Aslam titles, two Bandula Chandraratne titles and other writers I cannot recollect now. Amidst these titles was that title I had been looking for since a long time. I had found GV Desani’s ‘Hali and Collected Stories’ a couple of years ago but what I hoped to find was his ‘All About H.Hatterr’ which was an impossible wish considering it is out of print, rare and so on.
Last Sunday, to my luck, I came across it nestled among other books with only its title visible. I have never been as excited as I was on that day when I grabbed the book from the pavement. I was on cloud nine to find GV Desani’s ‘All About H.Hatterr’ for just sixty rupees. It was a good copy and I couldn’t believe it and kept muttering to myself all day about what a lucky bloke I was. Normally I get a bit annoyed about having to go to office on Sundays and other holidays but last Sunday it did not matter that I had to go to the office shortly afterwards. When I got home in the evening I looked at my haul again. It was a pleasant coincidence that all three titles I had found were Penguin titles. But GV Desani’s ‘All About H.Hatterr’ will be another prized possession in my collection.