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.