Friday, August 30, 2013

The Delhi Book Fair Haul

If it weren’t for a colleague who was on leave I would not have gone to Delhi last Monday on work. If it weren’t for my brother I wouldn’t have known in advance that the Delhi Book Fair would be on during my visit. If I hadn’t visited the Book Fair last Monday I wouldn’t have ever found the book I had been desperately looking for since quite a long time.

Sometime in February I read Aditya Sudarshan’s article about Arun Joshi and quite coincidentally, a few weeks later, found ‘The Foreigner’ at Abids. After reading the book I was hooked since it was like nothing I had read by any Indian writer. Since the article mentioned Arun Joshi’s other titles I was desperate to find them also and read them. Shortly afterwards I managed to find ‘The Last Labyrinth’ and ‘The Strange Case of Billy Biswas.’ Aditya Sudarshan had mentioned that ‘The Apprentice’ was one of the best books of Arun Joshi and was determined to find the title come what may. Since then I have been searching high and low wherever I went for this title but in vain.
So imagine my surprise when the first stall I walked into at the Book Fair at Pragati Maidan was that of Orient Paperbacks. When I I asked the guys at the counter about Arun Joshi’s titles they said they had those titles which set my heart beat into overdrive. They guy got up and went to a shelf that I did not even look at and brought me the treasured books. I couldn’t just believe that I held brand new copies of ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The City and the River’ in my hand. But it was not as simple as that. The guy took the books from hand and called up someone on the phone and asked him if he should give the books to me. A short exchange followed during which I waited tensely wondering what it was all about. Finally, the sales guy gave me the book. He then asked another person to take out all the Arun Joshi titles from the shelves. He kept them under the table out of sight. I wasn’t very curious to know more since I was more excited by my find. I did a perfunctory round of the rest of the fair and returned home wondering if I was dumb not to have picked up extra copies of these two titles.
The next day after I finished a short meeting at another office I took the Metro from Hauz Khas to Rajiv Chowk from where I changed to another line towards Pragathi Maidan. I saw that ‘The City and The River’ were not displayed but there were copies of ‘The Apprentice’ and I picked up a second copy. That was all I needed. At another stall selling used books I picked up Ian Rankin’s for my brother. I saw Patrick French’s biography of VS Naipaul- The World is What It Is- but the price was of New Delhi scale so I backed out from buying it. I had earlier come across it in Hyderabad but hadn’t picked it up though I could have got it quite cheap. Anyway, I felt, after finding two Arun Joshi titles, I did not need anything more.


Rajendra said...

Congrats. Thanks to you, I read The Foreigner at Hari's. Great finds.

winding river said...

Hi Vinod...finally got your Joshis...great...after reading this post, I remembered that I had posted a request on Amazon for this book and I thought I'd check...all Joshis were there...I also checked orient paperbacks site...they also seem to have all Joshi books...I think they have re-issued these books... In case your friends are interested, they could visit the orient paperbacks site...