Friday, September 25, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 20-09-2015)

Unlike the previous Sunday when I had the pleasant company of Jai and his family last Sunday I was absolutely alone. Though my friends could not make it Abids Jai dropped in with his small family. Before bursting on the scene to look for books on the pavements we sat in the Taj Mahal and had coffee. Jai gave me a Deccan pen in exchange for the copy of Stephen Fry’s ‘Paperweight’ that I gave him. Later, while looking for the books, and after watching the earnest and eager face of Mamun, Jai’s sweet little daughter, while she picked up her own books I was convinced another book lover was in the making. I hope Jai brings her to Abids regularly so she can find more books to read.
Since I was alone last Sunday I enjoyed every moment of it keenly looking for titles to pick up without being distracted. In a heap of books selling for thirty rupees I saw a nice copy of ‘London Fields’ by Martin Amis that I had seen earlier at the same place. I had not felt like picking up then but last Sunday I realized it would be a dumb idea to leave it behind. This was the first find.
I am currently half way through ‘Poor but Spirited in Karimnagar’ by Sumita Dawra, an IAS officer, that is about her experiences as the Collector of Karimnagar. At Abids when I chanced upon another such book by an IAS officer I thought it would be a good idea to pick it up and read it to see what the retired bureaucrat had to say. So I picked up ‘Walking with Giants’ by G. Ramachandran. I got it for forty rupees.
I haven’t read any title by Terry Pratchett who was in the news recently after his death. I am not really into sci-fi or fantasy but when I saw a nice copy of ‘Carpe Jugulum’ by Terry Pratchett I bought it. It would be my first Terry Pratchett title and I hope it would be an interesting read.
Later at Chikkadpally I found another delightful collection of short stories published by Sahitya Akademi. I found ‘Contemporary Short Stories’ Series-1 that had a total of fifteen short stories translated into English from various regional languages. This collection had the following stories:
BHADARI (Assamese) by Laxminath Bezboroa
THE PRICE OF FLOWERS (Bengali) by Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay
A MOMENT OF ETERNITY (English) by Bhabani Bhattacharya
THE LETTER (Gujarati) by ‘Dhumketu’
THE CHILD (Hindi) by Premchand
THE CURDS-SELLER (Kannada) by Masti Venkata Iyengar
THE BRIDE’S PYJAMAS (Kashmiri) by Akhtar Mohi-ud-din
THE TALKING PLOUGH (Malayalam) by Ponkunnam Varkey
MANU (Marathi) by Roop Kattnak
ONLY A DOG (Oriya) by Kalindi Charan Panigrahi
MIRACLE (Punjabi) by Kartar Singh Duggal
BROTHER ABDUL RAHMAN (Sindhi) by Amarlal Hingorani
THE NOSE JEWEL (Tamil) by C. Rajagopalachari
ON THE BOAT (Telugu) by P.Padmaraju
TINNY’S GRANNY (Urdu) by Ismat Chugtai

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Sunday Haul

Last month thought it did not actually rain much, there was a steady downpour of books in my life. This month it is raining cats and dogs outside almost every day and the downpour of books in my life hasn’t stopped either. In the sale of second hand books by Best Books at YMCA that was from 1-12 September I managed to buy a total of fifteen books in the four visits I made. At the same time, on Sundays I continued to go to Abids and pick up books as usual.
Last Sunday, at last, I found one of the missing titles in Len Deighton’s ‘Game, Set, Match’ trilogy. I found ‘Mexico Set’ in a pile of books selling for only thirty rupees. It was only recently that I had found ‘Berlin Game’ and the third in the trilogy, ‘London Match’ and ‘Mexico Set’ that I found completed the trilogy. Now that I have the trilogy I am planning to begin reading the first title and hope to find the missing titles in the remaining two trilogies of ‘Hook, Line, and Sinker’ and ‘Faith, Hope, and Charity.’
Another interesting find was ‘The Bookseller of Kabul’ by Asne Seirstad, a journalist. It was a non-fiction title about the time the author spent in Kabul living in the house of Sultan Khan, the book seller. I bought it because I love to read everything about books, booksellers, and also because I was getting it for only thirty rupees.
I was at the launch of Raghu Karnad’s ‘Farthest Field’ at the Taj Krishna earlier this week. I had read so many gushing reviews of this book that I not only attended the launch I also ended up buying the book and getting it signed by the author.

The Sale Haul- 2

On normal days I find it difficult to keep myself from visiting at least one of the more than half a dozen second hand bookstores in Hyderabad. I drop in at least two such stores in the middle of the week even after I’ve been to the Abids book bazaar on Sundays where thousands of books are laid out on the pavements. But when a sale of second hand books is going on in Hyderabad it is impossible for me not to drop in there every other day. In the Best Books sale that took place in the first fortnight of September I’ve managed to buy seven books in the three visits I made to the sale. I went there once again last Friday and ended up buying six more books and added another book on another visit on Saturday which was the last day of the sale.
Despite possessing scores of books on writing I cannot resist buying more of then whenever I see them. This maybe because I haven’t yet managed to achieve a certain level of proficiency in writing. One of the books on writing I have is ‘On Being a Novelist’ by John Gardner that I found a couple of years ago. However I do not have his other book- ‘The Art of Fiction’ that I managed to read after borrowing it from a friend. I have been looking for this acclaimed title since long. On my third visit to the Best Book sale, a day before the last day of the sale this was the first title I spotted on a shelf minutes after I went in. Needless to say, I grabbed it. Later I found ‘Small Memories’ by Jose Saramago, the Nobel Prize winner. It was a compact little book and I felt terribly pleased to find it. I wondered why I did not see these books on my earlier visits to the sale.
In the section of books being sold by weight I was surprised to find some really interesting titles. Next to books on writing I never fail to buy books on books. So when I saw ‘So Many Books, So Little Time’ by Sara Nelson I was delighted. It was a sort of account of the year Sara Nelson spent reading one book a week.
Next I saw another wonderful title that I already have a copy of. I found ‘No Great Mischief’ by Alistair MacLeod on another table. It was a good copy and I grabbed it without much hesitation. I do not understand how it ended up in this pile of books being sold by weight. Since these two titles wouldn’t add up to a kilo which was the minimum to be bought I looked among the hefty titles but couldn’t find anything good. I picked a crime fiction title ‘Vendetta’ by Michael Dibdin and ‘The Italian Neighbors’ by Tim Parks. These four titles added up to a kilo of books that I got for only eighty rupees. I had bought my first copy of ‘No Great Mischief’ in a similar sale for two hundred and fifty rupees.
Next day, that is Saturday, was my friend Daniel’s birthday so he took me out for lunch at Paradise. After a long leisurely lunch I suggested that we drop in at the sale since he too is a book junkie like me. I was eager to visit since it was the last day of the sale and I thought maybe I would be able to find some title that might escaped my eye on my earlier visits. Luckily I was able to find another interesting title, a memoir of a writer, a well-known one. In the pile of books being sold by weight I found ‘Teacher Man’ by Frank McCourt. I added it to the pile of books that Daniel had picked up and also paid for which means I got it for free!

Adding all the books I’ve picked up during the four or five visits I made to the Best Book sale it comes to fifteen (15) books.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Sunday Haul

After buying nine books at the Best Books sale during the week I thought it wouldn’t be such a good idea to pick up more books at Abids the following Sunday. Though I had resolved to only look and not to buy any books on my usual Sunday visit to Abids it did not take very long for the resolve to crumble. The first book I saw and picked up was yet another (my third) copy of ‘The Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. It was a nice copy with a beautiful cover and the price too was just right so I grabbed it.
The second find was ‘Slow Man’ by J.M. Coetzee that I got for the ridiculously low price of only thirty rupees. It was in good condition and I picked it up the moment I saw it in the heap of books selling for thirty rupees only. In the adjacent heap of books that too were selling for thirty rupees I found ‘Paperweight’ by Stephen Fry. I found my first copy of this book maybe a decade ago and I still have it with me. It is a collection of Fry’s hilarious pieces that I read again and again.
I think the best find of Sunday was ‘The Name is Archer’ by Ross Macdonald that I spotted at a seller near the Abids GPO. I got this book for only forty rupees which was a steal. Another find was ‘Oriental Mythology’ by Joseph Campbell which is a fantastic book. I don’t know what prompted me to pay hundred rupees for this book but I am certain it will be interesting to read it.
With these six book the total number of books that I bought in September comes to fifteen and the tally of books that I have gathered till date is one short of a hundred and fifty.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Haul at the Best Books Sale

Not content selling their wares on the pavements of Abids every Sunday, and also in their brick and mortar store the second hand book sellers of Hyderabad hold ‘Exhibition-cum-Sale’ of their books now and then. Best Books Centre is the biggest secondhand bookstore chain with three branches in Hyderabad. They usually hold a big sale twice a year usually at the YMCA in Secunderabad. I look forward to it eagerly but last year they did not hold the sale so I was disappointed. Finally, sometime last month I learnt that they were having a sale starting from the first of September till the twelfth. I was there on the first day itself.
The first book I found was ‘Do You Suppose It’s the East Wind’ edited by Mohd Umar Memon that I got for ninety five rupees. This collection of short stories by Pakistani writers has stories by Sadat Hasan Manto, Abdullah Hussein, Ikramullah and other writers I haven’t read about it. I bought it because it was a Penguin and also because I love reading short stories. The next find was a copy of ‘A Burnt-Out Case’ by Graham Greene that also was priced at ninety five rupees. I had been looking for this book since a long time and I felt glad I found it at last. This is one reason why I look forward to such a book sale.
The next title I found was another book that I missed buying when I first saw it a couple of years ago at another second hand book store. I picked up ‘The Sense of An Ending’ by Julian Barnes the moment I spotted it. This book was slimmer than the other two books I found earlier but it was priced higher at a hundred and twenty five rupees.
When I read the press release about this sale I was dismayed to find that there would be books being sold by the kilo. Somehow I do not like the idea of books being sold by weight because each book is different unlike potatoes or onions and hence has its own price. However, I was curious what I would find in the shelves of books being sold by weight. I was quite surprised to find a hardcover copy of ‘Education of a Wandering Man’ by Louis L’Amour. I already have a paperback copy of this memoir by this famous writer of Westerns but I couldn’t resist picking up the hardcover copy. This book alone weighed at least half a kilo I felt and since the minimum weight of the books you buy had to be a kilo I looked around for other titles to add to the scale.
Sometime I had picked up a copy of ‘Tumbleweed’ a book by Janwillem van de Wetering which turned out to be a fantastic crime fiction read. As recently as August I found another title by van de Wetering “Hard Rain’ at Abids so I did not hesitate when I came across ‘The Japanese Corpse.’ I was surprised when I saw ‘Evening Games’ Alberto Manguel in the shelf of books being sold by weight. It was a Penguin title and this was a collection of short stories which could have been sold for a higher price. But I was glad to find it and these three books weighed a kilo and a quarter which means I got these three titles for a hundred rupees at the rate of eighty rupees a kilo.
I went once again a day later and found a nice copy of ‘Avarana’ by SL Bhyrappa the famous Kannada writer. It was quite a tome but I realized I would never find an English translation of any work by SL Bhyrappa so I decided to buy it even though the price was 195 rupees. I resolved that I would not buy any more but would just look around. It was a kind of mistake looking around because I found another book I had to buy. I found an enormous volume which turned out to be ‘The Best of Quest’ that I discovered was a mine of essays, stories, and poems by some of the best names in Indian English writers of an earlier generation. When I saw one of the stories was by Arun Joshi I decided to buy it even though the price was 395 rupees. It was a collection I did not want to miss so in it went into my bag. Then I saw yet another book that I told myself that I simply had to buy for the simple reason that it was a book by Alice Munro. I already have a copy of ‘Open Secrets’ by Alice Munro but I decided to buy another copy.
The sale is on until the end of this week and I do not know how many more books I will buy if I go again apart from the nine titles I had picked up in my two visits.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 30-08-2015)

Once again, as had happened last August, there’s been a flood of books in my life though there wasn’t any actual rain during the month. Added to the haul of sixteen books that I had picked up during the month were five more books that I found on Sunday. Some really outstanding titles are part of this five book haul which made me glad.
The first title I found was another collection of short stories. I found ‘Things Have a Way of Working Out’ by Mulk Raj Anand that had a bright and attractive cover. It has twelve stories each dedicated to a different person. This is the list and the names of the dedicatees in brackets: The Price of Bananas (dedicated to KK Hebbar) A Village Wedding (Ramji Kak) Things Have a Way of Working Out (Rajinder Singh Bedi) The Gold Watch (Hugh Atkinson) Five Short Fable (Ruth & Cyrus Jhabvala) A True Story (Balwant Gargi) The Wounded Dove (Pierre Cot) Death of a Lady (Shirin Vajifdar) The Story of an Anna (Razia Sajjad Zaheer) Old Bapu (Kushwant Singh) The Power of Darkness (S.L) and The Shadow of Death. I got this collection for forty rupees only.
The second title I found was yet another collection of poetry. I found ‘Only the Soul Knows How to Sing’ by Kamala Das that had more than 150 poems. I read some of them at random and as usual whenever I read good poetry I was overwhelmed. Inside the book was a letter by the publisher to an editor of a daily in Hyderabad requesting him to give a ‘favorable review’ to the book. The letter, neatly folded was in the back and was written in December, 1996. It would be interesting to know if the paper carried a review of the book.
After Peter Carey, one interesting Australian writer whose book I read was Helen Garner (Monkey Grip) and these two are the only Australian writers I have read so far. For some reason I seem to be discovering new crime fiction writers I haven’t read about and this Sunday too I came across another crime fiction writer. This new crime fiction writer that I came across turned out to be Australian and described by Sydney Morning Herald as ‘Cleary is a National Literary Institution. Wh ich was enough for me to pick up ‘Bear Pit’ that I saw in a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees.
Though I am not a movie buff and do not watch many movies I somehow like reading autobiographies of movie personalities especially if they happen to be writers themselves. Dirk Bogarde comes to mind and then there is Kirk Douglas. Just beside the heap of books where I found Jon Cleary’s ‘Bear Pit’ I found ‘Roman’ by Polanski which was a paperback. I think there are few movie buff who do not know who Roman Polanski is so I need not write about him here. This book was in a really good condition and I was glad I found it for only thirty rupees.
The last find was a truly interesting one. I spotted a book with a nice cover and when I picked it up it turned out to be ‘Paraja’ by Gopinath Mohanty published by Oxford University Press. I honestly confess that I haven’t heard of Gopinath Mohanty until I saw that book. It turns out this Odiya writer has won the Sahitya Akademi award, the Jnanpith, and also the ‘Padmabhushan’ which makes him out to be a great writer. I thanked my good fortune that I found ‘Paraja’ which was translated into English by Bikram K. Das. I did not mind spending a hundred rupees in buying the book. I hope I will be able to read ‘Paraja’ one of these days.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

2015 Trips- Trip No. 2- The Delhi Haul

After a gap of almost a year and half since my last visit to Delhi last Sunday I was there on a three day trip. I thought I would be quite excited at going to Delhi again after such a long time but apart from a mild eagerness I did not feel any excitement. The eagerness was because I would be meeting my mother who was staying with my younger brother, and also seeing my two nephews. I was going to attend a day long workshop at a hotel.

I learned that the venue of the workshop, Hotel Lalit, was quite close to Connaught Place. I made my plans to look for books and pens. Luckily this was a workshop where I didn’t have to speak. I just sat and listened to the various speakers. The lunch was sumptuous and everyone felt sleepy afterwards. After a while it got boring and I was impatient for the workshop to be over. At last, at around half past five I was able to leave. I walked over to CP and as usual walked around the circle once. I spotted Oxford Book Store and went in with the idea of sitting in the ‘Cha Bar’ and having tea. I was surprised to notice that the cafĂ© was crowded which wasn’t the case when I went in a couple of years ago when OBS was at some other place.
I decided to look around at the books and while doing so I spotted a book by the famous Tamil writer, Jayakanthan. The book was ‘A Man, A Home and A World’ which was an English version of his novel in Tamil. I was glad I found it because only recently I had read somewhere about what a wonderful writer Jayakanthan was. I got the book for Rs 150 and was content finding this one wonderful novel. One of these days I am going to begin it. Later I went to Nehru Place where I checked out the books at Nanda but couldn’t find anything worth buying. I had taken along ‘The Ivory Grin’ by Ross MacDonald to read during the plane journey. I managed to finish it on the way back to Hyderabad. Ross MacDonald is a wonderful writer and I plan to buy all his books though I have nearly ten of his titles.