Friday, May 30, 2014

The Sunday Haul

The book I took along to read on the plane to Delhi on Tuesday was one I found on Sunday. It was the third title of Ross Thomas that I found at Abids. I saw ‘Yellow Dog Contract’ by Ross Thomas after Uma picked up a book that was right above it. Only the previous Sunday I had found ‘Twilight at Mac’s Place’ at Abids which was the second Ross Thomas title I had found after ‘The Fools in Town Are On Our Side’ that I had picked up a couple of months ago. Since I had been reading too much praise of Ross Thomas I decided to read the slimmest title which turned out to be ‘Yellow Dog Contract.’ I finished reading it yesterday and felt pretty pleased with myself for having discovered Ross Thomas. ‘Yellow Dog Contract’ had many funny lines that reminded me of Elmore Leonard and sometimes Robert B Parker though many shades better than Parker, the one liners especially.
The second find of Sunday was Len Deighton’s ‘Declarations of War’ that was right beside the Ross Thomas title. I had a copy of this book once but I do not know where it is now. Since I was getting this book for only twenty rupees I decided to buy it along with ‘Yellow Dog Contract’ which too came at the same price of twenty rupees. ‘Declarations of War’ as is evident from the title is war fiction and has thirteen stories: It Must Have Been Two Other Fellows, Winter’s Morning, First Base, Paper Casualty, Brent’s Deux Ex Machina, A New Way to Say Goodnight, Lord Nick Flies Again, Discipline, Mission Control, Hannibal One, Adagio, Bonus for a Salesman, Action, Twelve Good Men, and True.
The third find at Abids was a classic that I have been waiting to turn up somewhere since quite long. There’s a seller in Abids who sells only magazines and just a handful of books for which he doesn’t seem to care much. He doesn’t seem to have any knowledge of books or authors so he just looks at the book you have picked up from his collection and quotes only ten rupees. Only ten rupees for any book that he has to sell. That’s what I paid for a nice copy of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ that I found with him.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Sunday Haul

Last Sunday was actually a fun day because a couple of my friends, all of them serious readers, joined in the hunt on Sunday at Abids. Usually I go along with Umashankar and Srikanth to Abids looking for books. We begin from an Irani restaurant where we have chai, talk for a while about movies, books, politics and everything else under the sun before leaving for the actual hunt. We spend nearly an hour and half looking for good titles. Afterwards we go our own ways laden with books. This Sunday Hari came along with Raja, who has now hopped on to Indore. Only Jai was missing or else it would have been quite a picture. I wish he had come along. Among ourselves we picked up quite a few books, pointing out good books that we have read to the others in the hope of making them buy the titles. I ended up buying three titles.
Sometime back I had picked up a book at Abids solely on the basis of its intriguing title- The Fools in Town are On Our Side’’ by Ross Thomas. Later I discovered that Ross Thomas was an extremely good writer and was compared to another favourite writer of mine- Elmore Leonard. I felt lucky for having across that title and for having discovered another good writer. On Sunday in a heap of books selling for twenty rupees I came upon another Ross Thomas title- ‘Twilight at Mac’s Place' that I did not hesitate to buy right away. On the back it said again that Ross Thomas was on par with Elmore Leonard.
In the same heap I found two more books. One was a title I had missed buying a couple of months ago. I had been looking for ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz’ by Mordecai Richler ever since I missed buying it. This too was in a good condition and I picked it the moment I saw it. Moreover, it was a Penguin title and I do not like to pass over any title by Penguin.
The third title I found in the same heap was Carson McCullers’ ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ that I already have. I had found another copy but with a different cover only recently. But this copy was a different imprint, older than the ones I had at home. Either way it is a good book and there are a few people I know who might like reading it so I picked it up.

Find Hari's account of the visit here:

Friday, May 16, 2014


On Sunday I found nothing worthwhile at Abids to take home. However I had seen a title by Molly Keane but now I cannot recollect the title. I was rereading Dirk Bogarde’s ‘For the Time Being’ that has some wonderful reviews of good books and also bad books. Only the other day I read in it that Molly Keane is a writer worth reading and Bogarde had written that her ‘Loving and Giving’ was very good. However, it wasn’t this title that I saw at Abids and hence did not buy it. I decided to check again next week and buy it. I walked away from the heap in which it was lying with the hope that next Sunday it is still around because I do not want to miss it.
One Dave Barry title that I am desperate to find is ‘Boogers are My Beat’ that I haven’t been able to find anywhere all these years. Since I am a firm believer in the saying that everything comes to the man who waits I waited in teh hope that sooner or later this book would turn up somewhere. Yesterday afternoon I slipped out from the office and decided to go to the Unique Book Centre now shifted from Nampally to Lakdikapul. My heart gave a leap when I saw ‘Boogers Are My Beat’ in one of the shelves and immediately picked it up. It was a long wait and though I want to say it was worth it I cannot since I had to shell out nearly two hundred rupees for it.

‘Boogers Are My Beat’ has more than pieces, all of them no doubt very hilarious to read because the first line in the first piece titled ‘Introduction’ itself had me in splits. I can never get enough of Dave Barry’s humour. I feel very lucky to have found it just when I was feeling a bit low in spirits.

FRIDAY DOUBLE POST- POST NO. 1- No chai in Paradise

Sometime after the Bahar restaurant at Begumpet became Paradise restaurant after the takeover by the Paradise people I dropped in there to check out the chai section. I found the tea was as good as that served at the original Paradise Cafe at the Paradise circle. For many people ‘Paradise’ means biryani only and I cannot blame them but for the likes of me it means a good cup of chai and Osmania biscuits/samosas etc. So I was glad the Paradise was spreading out to all corners of Hyderabad. Needless to say I was under the impression that I’d get chai at every outlet of Paradise but turns out it isn’t the case.

Last week I was in Begumpet and dropped in at the Paradise there with the idea of having a quick cup of chai. When the guy at the bakery section told me that chai isn’t on the menu I got a minor shock. I did not want to ask him why it wasn’t being served and other questions I had in mind and just walked out heart filled with disappointment and some kind of resentment with the Paradise people. Don’t the people in Begumpet like to drink chai? It looks like it since this Paradise branch looks all geared up to cater to that crowd that likes to eat biryani with fork and spoon along while swigging Coke and stuff like that. No true biryani lover would ever have anything else other than chai after his favourite dish unless he had a screw loose somewhere in his head. I haven’t checked up if this is the case with the other outlets at Kukatpally and the one near Prasad Imax. Maybe they have realized it isn’t worth serving chai at these places. Whatever their decision it sure filled me with a bit of resentment at the way the Paradise folks treats chai and the people who like to drink it.

Anyway, I soon got over this minor disappointment when I ended up at the famous Red Rose Restaurant at Errum Manzil. This is an unpretentious cafe which offers some good stuff. I had an egg puff, two chota samosas that were fresh, crispy and very tasty. I topped off these with a cup of wonderful chai that washed out the experience I had at the ‘Paradise’ cafe in Begumpet.
As if this is not enough, things have changed at the original ‘Paradise’ cafe at Paradise circle. They still continue to serve tea there but not in cups. Since a couple of months they have been serving chai in Paradise in paper cups. Drinking tea in paper cups isn’t exactly the same as drinking it in proper cups. It makes me feel like taking ‘Paradise’ off my list of favourite chai joints.

Friday, May 09, 2014

At a Book Launch

After a very long time I got the chance to attend a book launch event in Hyderabad. Last Friday I was at the Landmark store in Somajiguda and sat through a brief but very interesting launch of Chitra Viraraghavan’s ‘The Americans.’ In conversation with Chitra was Sridala Swami, fine poet and occasional reviewer for ’The Guardian.’ It was an interesting exchange between the two that subtly brought out what ‘The Americans’ was all about. When Sridala Swami mentioned that the book had a character named ‘Vinod’ I was curious. Needless to say I bought a copy of the book and got it signed by Chitra, who happens to be a friend/wife of a friend or both actually.

It was at the HLF in 2011 that I and Hari first met Krishna Shastri Devulapalli and Chitra. Hari was on a panel in which Krishna Shastri was also a participant. Afterwards we got talking and over these couple of years we met a few times and that too for a few minutes or so. This is one reason why I was not aware that Chitra was an editor, had done her Ph.D in English Literature in the US. I also did not know her full name. It came as a complete surprise that Chitra, though diminutive in appearance, has accomplished so much. As if all that wasn’t enough she has now written a wonderful novel. Hari had told me in January that Chitra had written a book that would be launched sometime in April this year so I was kind of prepared. From the few pages that I have read so far it looks like the novel will make a major splash on the bestseller lists in no time, aided, in part, by the fantastic cover. The cover is designed by none other than the inimitable Krishna Shastri Devulapalli. I won’t be surprised if ‘The Americans’ picks up a few awards on the way up.

I might do a review of the book here sometime soon.

The Sunday Haul

Until recently the only Japanese writer I read was Haruki Murakami who gave me the impression that there were no other writers in Japan worth reading. Last Sunday I found a book by another Japanese writer who Graham Greene described as ‘one of the finest living novelists’ which is what I saw on the cover of ‘Wonderful Fool’ that I picked up on a shelf at Abids. Finding this book by another Japanese writer made me feel how silly my impression was. I had earlier heard the name Sushaku Endo but did not make the effort to find out who he/she was or of what nationality.
After finding ‘Wonderful Fool’ by Shusaku Endo I felt lucky to have discovered another good writer. It made me feel quite ignorant not to have known about Endo and his books before. But I also felt quite lucky at having spotted this book and also pleased that I could get it for only sixty rupees. I was quite surprised to read that Sushaku Endo had been in the contending for the Nobel since quite a few years but hasn’t yet won it. However, after I read the reviews of some of his books online I was convinced I had found a good book.

Another find of Sunday at Abids was ‘The Valachi Papers’ by Joe Valachi. After reading ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo and ‘Casino Moon’ by Peter Blauner I wanted to read more about the Mafia but did not know where to look. I had read about ‘The Valachi Papers’ somewhere that I do not recollect now but I know that it had something to do about the Mafia. I bought this book for twenty rupees. With this book my total haul for the year so far comes to 65. This total includes Chitra Viraraghavan’s ‘The Americans’ that I bought on Friday last at its launch in Hyderabad.

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Sunday Haul

It was the last Sunday of April, the fourth month of the New Year and exactly the time for the mercury to keep rising higher and higher. The temperature was perhaps close to forty as was evident when we went around checking out the books on sale at Abids. The temperatures will eventually come down but the number of books that I buy every Sunday keeps rising. The score of the books that I have bought so far has reached the fifties. As on date I have bought a total of 59 books not counting the three titles I picked up on Sunday.
I had found a battered copy of ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ by James M. Cain long time back and also read it soon after. I had decided to read everything James M. Cain had written but couldn’t find any of his titles. On Sunday I found ‘Mildred Pierce’ and got it for twenty rupees. It was a nice copy and I hope to read it sometime soon.
The second find of the day was ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ by Anita Loos that I got for the ridiculous price of only ten rupees. I had not heard of this book but have come across the phrase. I learnt that this book was out of print which makes it something of a rarity. The book is very short, about a hundred and twenty pages and would take just a couple of hours to finish.
The third title that I found was one that I had not picked up when I saw it at the Hyderabad Book Fair in December last. I did not buy it because the price was too steep for me, somewhere around three hundred rupees. But on Sunday I got Paul Theroux’s ‘The Tao of Travel’ for just a hundred rupees. The copy I found was as good as new and I was pleased to have bought it. My friends told me that the book hade been around since the past two weeks yet I had failed to spot it. I must have these eagle eyes of mine checked once.