Friday, June 28, 2013

Trip No. 6 Dehradun

I am in Dehradun since eight days in connection with the Kedarnath\badrinath floods relief work. There is a lot I have to tell but do not have the time. I will post next week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sunday Haul

It was another pleasant Sunday morning with cloudy skies and gusts of wind. I had not read about any exciting new writer in the Sunday papers so I did not hope to find any new books. I made a vague decision to try not to buy any books at Abids. But even before I could reach Abids I found two books at Chikkadpally that I felt I must buy. One of the titles was one that I had already bought recently but hadn’t written about it here. Shrikant had borrowed it and hence I did not write about it. I found a good copy of Sri Sri’s ‘Maha Prasthanam’ which I decided to give to Shrikant. I also found Sri Sri’s Khadga Srushti’ that I wanted to read. They were slim titles and I got them for just thirty rupees.

At Abids even before I could have tea with Uma I found a book. It wasn’t exactly a good start considering my vague decision. I consoled myself saying that it was a very good book that I had found. Apart from the weather another pleasant thing was that I met Jai once again at Abids. I am sure the Abids bug has got Jai since he was looking at the books pretty closely on his second visit after his recent visit sometime last month.

A long time back I had bought a copy of Ken Kesey’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ at Abids. It wasn’t such a good copy so when I saw this nice Penguin copy of the same book I couldn’t resist picking it up. I got the book for only sixty rupees. Later, I saw other books including ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’ by Hemingway and ‘Girl 20’ by Kingsley Amis that I had planned to buy. But I did not feel like picking them up for some reason.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Sunday Haul

The Hyderabadi weather in June was never as pleasant as it is these days. The monsoon has begun earlier than expeted and it’s been raining almost every day since the beginning of the month. It rained quite heavily in the night last Saturday giving the impression that it would continue to rain on Sunday also. I woke up on Sunday morning hoping it wouldn’t rain later in the day. Luckily, it didn’t.

Till the previous Sunday I had bought a total of 72 books since the beginning of the year. It was considerably less than the 94 books I had bought during the whole of 2012. I had still more than six months to go and I decided I did not want to create any new records. I had unsuccessfully attempted several time in the past to put a stop to this habit of buying more books than I can read. However I couldn’t and can’t stop myself from picking up whatever good titles I happen to find at Abids. Last Sunday I ended up buying taking the total tally to 75 books after I picked up three more books.

The first book I bought was Chinua Achebe’s ‘Arrow of God’ which I bought for forty rupees. Sometime in April I had found ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ but haven’t read it yet. ‘Arrow of God’s is the final title in a trilogy with ‘Things Fall Apart’ and ‘No Longer at Ease’ being the first two titles. I’ve come across ‘Things Fall Apart’ earlier but somehow I did not feel like buying it. But now I’ve decided to buy the other two titles in the trilogy and then read all the three books one by one. However, I don’t think I’d be able to find ‘No Longer at Ease’ so easily.

After I picked up Camilla Lackberg’s ‘The Stone Cutter’ for Rs 75 I wondered if I had erred in buying another crime fiction title when I have almost a dozen of them lying with me unread. However, later I was glad to find that Lackberg is a well known writer and her books are bestsellers in the league of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. I hope I find a couple of days to read the 565 page book.

Every Sunday morning I sit in an Irani cafĂ© in the neighbourhood for about an hour reading the Sunday papers and sipping chai. Last Sunday in the Sunday magazine of The New Indian Express there was a cover story about Summer Reading List of 2013 which was odd considering that summer is more or less over with the coming of the rains. Anyway, Tishani Doshi’s list of her Top 5 books included ‘Five Star Billionaire’ by Tash Aw. Somehow the unusual name stuck in my mind. At Abids I came across ‘The Harmony Silk Factory’ by Tash Aw. I bought the book for Rs 50. With this 75th book I hope to pause for a while in my book buying until I manage to at least half the number of books I buy every year. So far I’ve read only 35 books which is less than half the number of books I have bought so far this year.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Sunday Haul

In more than two decades of experience looking for books I have come to realize that you grab a good title the first time you see it or it won’t be there the next time you want to buy it. I’ve missed buying several good titles because I’ve hesitated for some reason or the other. On the other hand I’ve also come to realize that in most cases what you missed buying the first time around will always turn up somewhere sooner or later. I have several instances to show this. Sometime back I had seen James Cameron’s ‘Indian Summer’ at Abids but I did not buy it which I felt was a foolish decision. I saw it again at a street-side secondhand book seller at Connaught Place in Delhi. I did not buy it this time because the price was too high. Ultimately, the title turned up last year at the Best Books sale and this time I did not let it go and bought it. At the same sale I saw JR Ackerley’s ‘Hindoo Holiday’ that I did not buy for the simple reason that I had spent quite a packet buying almost half a dozen books including ‘Indian Summer.’ But later I had second thoughts and returned to the sale the next day only to find, not unsurprisingly that the book was sold. I felt a crushing regret.

However, last Sunday the title turned up at Abids. This copy was different from the one I had seen at the sale. The copy I saw at Abids had a plain yellow cover with the title printed on it and appeared more like an unedited proof copy or an advance reviewer’s copy. There were also a couple of typos on the covers.But it turned out to be an Indian edition published by Arnold Heinemann publishers in 1979. This 1979 edition, I read in the Ackerley's preface to the second edition, includes omissions made in the first edition brought out in 1952 and also some new material. Apart from this, the new edition has an introduction by Saros Cowasjee. I got it for sixty rupees though I’d have been happier if I had a regular copy with the normal cover.

The second find of Sunday was sort of a double treat. I found ‘Poodle Springs’ that is a novel begun by Raymond Chandler who couldn't finish it. Robert B. Parker completed the novel and ‘Poodle Springs’ came to be published. The cover has names of both Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker on it which made it all the more interesting. Before I found the book I was not aware of this interesting background. I was lucky to get it in from a heap of books selling for only Thirty rupees.