Friday, December 30, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 25-12-2016)

Though the Hyderabad Book Fair was on I decided to go to Abids on Sunday morning since it has become a habit I cannot avoid. None of my friends had come so I was pretty much alone browsing the books spread out on the pavements. Some of the sellers who had set up stalls at the Book Fair were not to be seen. Though I did not find anything at Abids I found one title at Chikkadpally on my way home. I found a crime fiction title that turned to have been made into a movie that was more successful than the novel. I found ‘Bullitt’ by Robert L Pike that was wrapped in plastic. The cover was half torn but I bought it since the price was only twenty rupees.

I hope I'll get to see the movie someday. Another movie of a novel I like very much is 'Get Carter' and this is a movie I also hope to watch soon if I am lucky enough to find either a DVD or something like that somewhere.

The Book Fair Haul-II

After my first visit to the 30th Hyderabad National Book Fair that I made on the second day of the fair I made a couple more visits, on holidays usually because I am working someplace out of Hyderabad. On my second visit to the HNBF I found the English translation of Dharamvir Bharti’s ‘ Sooraj ka Saatva Ghoda’ in the National Book Trust stall. It was titled ‘ The Sun’s Seventh Horse’ and was priced at just twenty five rupees. I picked this title right away. However I had meant to buy another title that I had been looking for- Vinod Kumar Shukla’s ‘Naukar ka Kameez’ the English translation of which was also there in the NBT stall but for some reason I did not find it. I had seen another English translation of the same title but published by Penguin in the book fair but the stall owner where I saw it couldn’t trace it. Since I found that NBT has a stall in OU I decided to by Shukla’s book some other time.
On my third visit I picked up another title I had been looking for a good copy of. It was Anuradha Roy’s ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longing’ that I had seen earlier but did not buy because the price was too high. I saw this copy with a Hyderabadi second hand book seller who had his stall at the fair and for some reason he came down on the price and gave it to me for just a hundred rupees. It was a beautiful copy and I am looking forward to read this much praised book sometime in the first few weeks of January.
On my next visit to the book fair on Christmas day I found that the crowd was a much larger one than what I had seen on my earlier visits. It was the penultimate day of the book fair and also a holiday hence the large crowds. It was a sight to watch all the stalls packed with people looking at books and buying them by the dozen. But I bought just one book again. Somehow I kept putting off buying some titles that I had seen and that I thought nobody would buy. That way I missed buying a good copy of Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ and also a beautiful copy of ‘The Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen that I saw in a stall that was selling all books for just thirty rupees. They were gone when I went looking for them.
I saw another copy of ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by WG Sebald at one of the second hand book stalls. I had found the same title a couple of years back but the copy I bought had the first two pages missing. However the copy I found at the book fair on Christmas had the first two pages intact so I bought it. Even otherwise I would have bought it because it is a title that is difficult to find though I feel that not many people know about WG Sebald. I thought I was lucky to find this title that I got for just a hundred rupees.
I made another visit on the last day of the fair hoping to find some of the titles I missed buying. Though I did not find them I found another good book. The only book I bought on the last day was by an author I had read about only recently this year. I think it was in one of the issues of some newspaper where some authors listed out the titles by writers who are either underrated or are not so well known. In that article I read someone list out Naiyer Masud as one such writer. I found a collection of stories by Naiyer Masud titled ‘Snake Catcher’ which had the following eleven stories: Obscure Domains of Fear and Desire; The Woman in Black; Snake Catcher; Resting Place; Ganjefa; Weather Vane; Custody; Epistle; Lamentation; Allam and Son and; The Big Garbage Dump.

It was a brand new copy but I got it for only hundred rupees. This is another welcome addition to the growing list of short story collections I had picked up this year. I think 2016 stands out for the most number of short story titles that I have managed to find during the year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Book Fair Haul-I

For the first time in many years I missed the first day of the Hyderabad Book Fair. I was in Hyderabad but attending a meeting that went on until half past time which was the time the Book Fair closed. So I went the next day. I don’t know if it was the effect of the demonetisation or something else I wasn’t very excited about the Book Fair. And when I entered the fair I was even more depressed after looking around at the stalls. There were less than ten stalls selling second hand books and three fourths of them seemed to be of sellers who are at Abids. I could see only three stalls of second hand books that were from other places. Last year there were more than ten second hand book stalls put up by sellers from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other places. I did not expect to find many good titles in these stalls but I was wrong. I managed to find a decent haul of five books on my first visit to the 30th Hyderabad National Book Fair.
In the second hand book stall put up by Prateek Books from Mumbai I found five good titles. I was looking for a good copy of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton after I read his autobiography ‘Towards the Mountain’ recently. I saw a good copy of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ and picked it up. Next I saw a good copy of ‘The Pedant in the Kitchen’ by Julian Barnes. It seemed to be something about cooking and I just picked it up without a second thought because it was by Julian Barnes.
Sometimes one finds books from the collections of famous people if one buys only second hand books. Though I haven’t found any book from the collection of anyone famous I found a book at the Book Fair. The thing about being in a particular profession is that one collects books relating to that profession only. So when I saw a copy of ‘Jean Luc Godard’ from the library of Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt I wasn’t surprised. But I was surprised how the book came to be with a second hand book seller. I wonder how many such books were in that library and what had happened to the rest of the collection in the library. But I felt a bit of a thrill holding that book that the two famous actors Sunil and Nargis Dutt would have held in their hands.
The next book I found was also an interesting one. It had the name ‘VIJAY TENDULKAR’ written on one of the inside pages along with the date- 24th July 1982. I wonder if it belonged to the famous playwright or someone else with the same name. The book was a copy of ‘Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work’ 2nd Series. It had interviews of fourteen famous writers: Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, Boris Pasternak, Katherine Anne Porter, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, S.J.Perelman, Lawrence Durrell, Mary McCarthy, Ralph Ellison, and Robert Lowell. I have one in another series with a different set of writers that I had bought a long, long time back.
In another stall of second hand books set up by another outstation seller I found a copy of ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. This is one title that I cannot resist buying whatever the cost. The copy I found was a Tenth Anniversary Edition by Scribner. The cover has a picture of Stephen King sitting in his study, writing while his pet dog looks from under his legs at the camera. I got this book for hundred rupees which I thought was a fair price.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 11-12-2016)

Though I enjoy being at Abids every Sunday I am not always comfortable with the weather. In the summer it is the heat and in the rainy season, of course, it is the rain that plays spoilsport. My favourite season for the weather is winter that begins here from October and lasts until February. During this period the mornings are sunny and pleasant making it possible to browse for hours together in the open.
Now it is winter in Hyderabad and I am enjoying the weather here. Last Sunday despite the glorious morning my haul at Abids wasn’t impressive. I found only one good title but that was a fantastic find. In a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees I found a Penguin 60s title: ‘Bon Voyage, Mr President’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a small book, just small enough to fit snugly into the shirt pocket. This title is a collection of four short stories: Bon Voyage, Mr President; Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane; I Only Came to Use the Phone; and Light is Like Water. I read ‘Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane’ which was a beautiful story.

I was with my friends and we found five almost new paperback copies of ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ by Sidhartha Mukherjee. I had already bought one long ago but my friends wanted to pick up three copies. The seller quoted an astronomical price but we drove a hard bargain managing to drive him to desperation until he yielded and gave us the books at hundred rupees for each copy.

With this haul I have bought a total of 143 books this year and there are still two Sundays to go not to mention the Hyderabad Book Fair that began yesterday (15-12-2016). My total haul in 2016 will easily cross a hundred and fifty books. Next year I will get rid of an equal number of books because there is no space at home to keep all the books since all my shelves and table are overflowing with books. I hope I will be able to get rid of some books which is one of the hardest things to do if you love books as much as I do.

Friday, December 09, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 27-11-2016)

It sounds too good to be true but almost every Sunday I return home from the pavement book bazaar at Abids with at least one gem. There seems to be no end to the treasures one can find on the pavements at Abids where the booksellers display their wares. The Sunday before last (on 27-11-2016) I found another wonderful title, a collection of short stories, as it happens.

Since the past few Sundays I am finding at least one good short story collection. A couple of Sundays earlier I had found Alan Paton’s ‘Debbie Go Home.’ On the first Sunday of last month I had found ‘Waves’ by Sundara Ramaswamy. The Sunday before last I found a story collection by an author I had been quite eagerly searching for since a long time. I haven’t come across a single title by Katherine Mansfield so far and I was determined that I’d dig out at least one book by her either at Abids or in one of the half a dozen second hand bookstores in Hyderabad.
So I found what I was searching for. I came across an ancient copy of ‘The Garden Party’ by Katherine Mansfield. It was a Penguin title printed in 1958. It has the following fifteen stories: At the Bay; The Garden Party; The Daughters of the Late Colonel; Mr and Mrs Dove; The Young Girl; Life of Ma Parker; Marriage a la Mode; The Voyage; Miss Brill; Her First Ball; The Singing Lesson; The Stranger; Bank Holiday; An Ideal Family; The Lady’s Maid. I got this book quite cheap, just forty rupees.
Another find was a title I had read somewhere and had added the title to my list of books to buy. It was ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield which I hadn’t expected to find at Abids. But it was at Abids that I found it. For once my bargaining skills were no use in the face of a stubborn seller who seemed to be new to Abids. I gave in and paid him the hundred rupees he asked for this slim title.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 20-11-2016)

The only way I learn about new authors and books is when someone mentions such writers and books in their own books, essays, or in reviews. Autobiographies by writers, and literary essays inevitably are gold mines for discovering new writers.

Sometime last week I began reading Alan Paton’s autobiography titled ‘Towards the Mountain.’ In it he mentions visiting Norway, the land of Knut Hamsun author of books like Pan, Victoria etc and who won the Nobel Prize. Paton wrote in a reverential tone about Knut Hamsun. I had read only once about Knut Hamsun somewhere else too but do not remember where. But I remember making a note of the name in one of my notebooks as a writer to watch out for.

Last Sunday at Abids I came across two titles by Knut Hamsun. But I picked up only one title and that was ‘Hunger’ that I got for fifty rupees. Later I felt I should have picked up the other title too. But I was glad I had picked up at least one Knut Hamsun title. I do not know when I will read it but when I do I hope I enjoy reading it.

The next book I found was a title by Alan Paton. Though I am yet to find his most famous title- Cry, Thy Beloved Country- that, curiously, I am unable to find at Abids. I found ‘Debbie Go Home’ that is a collection of ten short stories. In his autobiography- Towards the Mountain- he writes about some of the people he met while working in a reformatory, and how these characters became the basis for some of the short stories in ‘Debbie Go Home.’
It is quite rare to find a book on books, or on reading, or writing, at Abids. So when I find such a book it is an occasion to rejoice. My next find was a book that I almost missed spotting but somehow I saw it at the last moment. ‘The Wonderful World of Books’ edited by Alfred Stefferud contains seventy two articles under various headings such as Pleasures of Reading, Books are Friends, Reading More Effectively, Choosing and Using Books (which has an article called ‘Book Collecting’ by John T. Winterich) and also Writers and Publishers. Though it was published in 1953 it looks like an interesting read.

The other finds were another decent copy of Bruce Chatwin’s ‘Anatomy of Restlessness’ that I gave to a friend right after I found it. I found it in a heap of books and got it for only twenty rupees. The other find was a copy of ‘The Golden Guide to American Guns’ by Larry Koller. One reason I bought was the book appeared like an unusual book published in 1961. It had some good photographs of the classic guns of America. The other reason I bought it was different. I am working on a script that has something to do with a character knowing a lot about guns. I am unable to finish this script and I bought this book in the hope of kick-starting the script.

(Unable to upload photos of the book covers for some reason I am unable to comprehend)

The Sunday Haul (13-11-2016)

( once again I am unable to post the photos of the books)
Sometime ago, a couple of years back maybe, I had found J.M. Coetzee’s ‘Inner Workings’, a collection of 21 literary essays he wrote during 2000-2005. Not long after I bought it I read all the essays in it, one by one. They were lengthy essays on many big name writers analysing their writings with perception and insight. Much of what he wrote went above my head, I must confess. Of the twenty one writers I had no idea about several of them like Bruno Schulz, Hugo Claus, Robert Walser, and so on. However, Coetzee’s essays were so good that I wanted to read the books written by these writers. The only problem remained finding them since it is not usual to find books by writers like those I mentioned above anywhere in Hyderabad or even the country. Last Sunday at Abids I was in for another surprise.

I saw a book ‘Confessions of Zeno’ by Italo Svevo in a heap of books at Abids and when I picked up the book to take a closer look something clicked in my memory. I felt that I had read about this author somewhere but couldn’t remember where. I hesitated before buying it since it looked like a book I wouldn’t want to read whatever the blurbs on the back cover said. Ultimately I decided to buy it since it was coming cheap, at just thirty rupees. On come home I took out the copy of ‘Inner Workings’ and opened it only to find that the first essay in it was on Italo Svevo!

The copy I found was a translation of Beryl De Zoete. I read the essay in ‘Inner Workings’ once again and it seems there’s another translation done by someone called Beth Archer Brombert. I do not know if I will read ‘Confessions of Zeno’ but I have the satisfaction of finding a book by an author I had thought would be impossible to find in Hyderabad.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 06-11-2016)

This was one Sunday I had been waiting for since the long Dussehra-Diwali shopping season that began almost six weeks ago. Now that Diwali is over, at Abids all the regular stores were closed leaving the pavements and the shopfronts for the second hand booksellers. I was happy to see all the second hand booksellers at their usual places with all their books laid out on the pavements. With the booksellers present in full strength and with full stocks I expected to find some interesting titles and I wasn’t disappointed. I found four wonderful titles last Sunday at Abids.

Books published in the 1950-70’s hold a special fascination for me. I do not know if it is the quaint font they have or the simple covers I buy such titles even if I have never heard of the author. My first find last Sunday at Abids was one such book. I found a copy of ‘The Judge’ by Tarasankar Banerjee with an attractive cover that had a young woman with intense eyes on the cover. ‘The Judge’ is an English translation of the original in Bengali ( titled ‘Vicharak’) by Sudhansu Mohan Banerjee. It is a small book, smaller than a postcard in size with just a little over 100 pages that can be read in less than a couple of hours. Incidentally, I saw another copy of the same book with another seller who thought the book in my hand was from his stock.

Sometime back I bought Series I, II and III of ‘Contemporary Indian Short Stories’ of the Sahitya Akademi at Abids because one of them had a story by the Tamil writer Pudumai Pithan. I had read somewhere that he was a great short story writer. In Series II I read his story- Redemption- that was so simple and wonderfully written that I became an instant fan of Pudumai Pithan. I then resolved to read more Tamil writers if I found their translated works. The second find at Abids last Sunday turned out to be another wonderful find. I regret that I hadn’t been aware of many writers of Indian languages and hence missed a lot of wonderful fiction. But through luck and some sharp observation I am able to find wonderful translations of the works of some really great writers. My next find was one such book and it was ‘Waves’ by Sundara Ramaswamy. I faintly remember coming across this name somewhere. Anyway, ‘Waves’ is an anthology of fiction and poetry of Sundara Ramaswamy translated from Tamil by A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Gomathi Narayanan, and Lakshmi Holstrom who also edited the anthology. After I went home I read a story in it titled ‘A Day with My Father’ and I was struck by the beautiful manner in which the innocence of childhood is brought out.

One can find several copies of ‘Peyton Place’ by Grace Metalious at Abids but so far I haven’t come across a good copy. Either the cover was missing or the pages were loose in all the copies I saw but on Sunday I found a decent copy. I hadn’t read this supposedly controversial book and was looking for a good copy and so picked it up for thirty rupees. There were other titles, mostly Pans, which I should have sifted through thoroughly but somehow I did not. Next Sunday I will go through these copies carefully.

The last find was at Chikkadpally. Sometime recently I read an article in which authors listed out little known authors who did not receive the attention they deserved and I actually wrote down their names. Suguna Ramanathan, Reshma Aquil, Naiyer Masud were some of the names. In the beautiful copy of ‘Indian Literature’ Issue No. 248 of Nov-Dec 2008 I saw at Chikkadpally I found a story by one of the writers in this list-Naiyer Masud. The story was titled ‘Ganjefa: The Game of Cards’ and I picked up this issue that was a treasure of poems, stories, literary criticism, reviews and much more in its 250 pages. I got this wonderful issue of ‘Indian Literature for just thirty rupees.
(Due to some technical problem I could not upload the pictures of the books)

Friday, November 04, 2016

A Mid-week Haul

Last Sunday it was Diwali yet I went to Abids. There were very few sellers and I did not find anything worth picking up from the thousands of books laid out on the pavements. But last Tuesday I was on a day’s leave from work. While running some errands I found myself at Abids. The Best Book Centre has a branch in Abids and I decided to take a quick look at the shelves. Since I had not found anything at Abids I hoped to find something interesting in the store.

I find it difficult to return from a bookstore without buying at least one book. On Tuesday though I saw interesting titles they were not so interesting to make me buy them. Another reason why I desisted buying any title was the high prices. But then just as I was sweeping my glance over the titles in the last shelves near the exit my eyes fell on a Penguin title. Instantly I knew I had found something very interesting.

I’ve come across at least one copy of ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton at Abids every week and also see it in second hand bookstores. However, for some strange reason I haven’t felt like buying it though I was aware that it was a good title. Maybe I felt that it would be a depressing book and hence did not buy it all these days. It wasn’t ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ that I saw at the bookstore buy ‘Towards the Mountain’, the autobiography of Alan Paton.
Since I am a sucker for autobiographies and memoirs by writers, editors, publishers, movie directors and actors etc I did not want to be prevented from buying ‘Towards the Mountain’ by Alan Paton by the price written in pencil on the flyleaf. Though the price was 200 rupees I bought it since the book appeared much, much more worth than that just looking at the picture of Alan Paton on the cover.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 23-10-2016)

It turned out to be yet another lucky Sunday at Abids for me as I ended up with a nice haul. Since Diwali was just a week away it appeared unlikely that I’d find more booksellers on the pavements at Abids than had been there the previous Sunday since almost all the regular shops would be open. But the second hand booksellers were more or less at their usual places with only a couple of them setting up shop elsewhere. What marked this Sunday was the haul of four wonderful titles I found quite effortlessly.
Though I have managed to build a considerable collection of books on writing I owe it two titles for giving me the confidence to begin writing a novel. One is ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and the other title is ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham. I must have picked up about a dozen copies of these two titles over the past few years mostly at Abids. ‘The Summing Up’ opened my eyes to what it actually takes to be a writer, and it also taught me a lot about how and what writers think before they begin to write. It has had a huge influence on me. I think anyone who wants to be a writer must read ‘The Summing Up’ by Somerset Maugham before beginning to put pen to paper.

Anyway, last Sunday’s first find was a decent copy of ‘The Summing Up’ that I saw with a seller who I think is quite stupid because he likes to think that every title he has is worth a lot than what it really is. Surprisingly I managed to get this copy for just thirty rupees and the reason I think is that I was the first customer he had and usually those in the business of selling do not turn away a first customer.

It was a warm sunny morning last Sunday and as usual I sat with my friends, all of them considerably younger, in the café and talked for a long time about movies, books, and also potholes and the inordinately long time it was taking to repair them. After the chai and the talk we set out again like a pack of wolves going out on a hunt.
Autobiographies and memoirs, especially by writers and also those in the movie business, draw me like a magnet. Sometime last year, I had found Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Something Like an Autobiograpy’, his autobiography, obviously. This Sunday I spotted yet another autobiography by another big name in film- Ingmar Bergman. I spotted ‘The Magic Lantern’ on a shelf with a seller just outside the café we had stepped out of. I bought, without a second thought about the price which was a hundred and fifty rupees.
One VS Naipaul title that seemed elusive was ‘The Return of Eva Peron’ that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere since a long time. On Sunday I saw it with another seller on the Abids main road and asked for the price. I felt that the price was too high for Abids’ standards but too less for a Naipaul title but nevertheless I paid fifty rupees and took the book.
In a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees a book, and one that always contains some interesting finds I was surprised to find a copy of ‘The Ugliness of the Indian Male’ by Mukul Kesavan. I do not know how this title ended up in this heap but I decided to rescue it and added it to my haul. It has thirty seven essays on movies, reading, travel, and politics. A long time back I had found his ‘Secular Common Sense’ but haven’t read it. I hope to read these two titles one after the other very soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 16-10-2016)

These days I am making my Sunday visits to the book bazaar at Abids without much expectation of landing a good haul. It is the festival season of Dasara and Diwali and with the regular shops being open even on Sundays the pavement book sellers aren’t at their usual places and also their stocks are also limited. However though I am returning from Abids with at least one title since the past few Sundays I set out for Abids out of sheer habit. Last Sunday too I thought since Diwali is another fortnight away the shops would be closed and the pavement sellers would be back at their usual places. Though it wasn’t so I managed to end up buying three good titles last Sunday.
The first find was ‘Tim’ by Colleen McCullough that I had been seeing since the past few Sundays. I come across numerous copies of Colleen McCullough’s best known title ‘Thornbirds’ though I haven’t gathered enough confidence to buy it because of its forbidding size and these days I am trying to keep clear of books that would take me at least a month to finish. However ‘Tim’ is a slim book and since I haven’t read any titles by this well-known Australian novelist I thought I’d make a beginning with it. It is a Pan title and I got it for thirty rupees.
There are a few titles about writing I must have picked up at least half a dozen copies of and one such title is ‘The Writing of One Novel’ by Irving Wallace. I must have given away three or four copies to people who have told me that they wanted to write. So I buy this title whenever I see a good copy of it. Last Sunday I found a decent enough copy of ‘The Writing of One Novel’ and bought it quite cheap for just thirty rupees.
Another title, a cookbook, I am unable to resist buying several copies is ‘Made in India’ by Kunal Vijayakar that is quite attractive to look at. Its size, the beautiful finish, and of course, the recipes makes it a good buy. Though I haven’t tried anything in the book I have picked up three copies so far. Last Sunday I found my fourth copy! With Diwali just a few days away from the next Sunday I do not think there would be as many sellers as there were this Sunday. But whatever I will be there next Sunday and every Sunday as long as there are the book sellers on the pavements of Abids.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 9-10-2016)

Due to a technical problem I couldn't post on Friday. Better late than never, hence posting today.
Sometimes I fail to understand why I choose to ignore obviously bestselling titles of which I see several copies at Abids, and instead pick up obscure titles by little known authors. Though these random finds mostly turn out to be quite good titles I have missed out picking up some really good titles due to this eccentricity of mine. I do not pick up such well known and obviously good reads unless I read their reviews or read those titles being praised by someone whose tastes I respect. Last Sunday I found one such title I had seen quite often but failed to buy until I read about it recently.

A long time ago, more than a decade maybe, on a hunch I picked up ‘A Divided Life’ by Bryan Forbes. Until that day I had no idea who Bryan Forbes was. I finished reading that wonderful autobiography a second time last week. In it, Forbes, who is a British film director, novelist mentions that he directed directed the movie based on ‘King Rat. I realized that I must have come across several copies of James Clavell’s ‘King Rat’ many times at Abids but hadn’t thought of buying it.

Last Sunday I saw a good copy of ‘King Rat’ by James Clavell that I got for a hundred rupees. If I had waited for another week or so I could have found a nice copy of this same title in one of those heaps of books that sell for twenty rupees. But last Sunday due to the Dasara festival there weren’t many sellers and not one of them had all their books on sale and were content to display only a few books. There wasn’t much to choose and pick.
In the introduction to ‘King Rat’ John Simpson wrote that James Clavell himself, who by then had begun to write screenplays in Hollywood, wrote the script for ‘King Rat’ the movie. There’s no mention of who directed the movie which is a bit puzzling. Anyway, I am glad I found a nice copy of ‘King Rat’ and also plan to be on the lookout for other titles by Clavell such as ‘Shogun’ and ‘Taipan.’

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 02-10-2016)

If I thought I was lucky the previous Sunday after I found my first Madhur Jaffrey cookbook then last Sunday I got luckier. Last Sunday I found another Madhur Jaffrey cookbook that was published even earlier than the one I found the previous Sunday. It was ‘A Taste of India’ by Madhur Jaffrey and published by Pan in 1985 which I got for just sixty rupees. It has state wise sections with a write up on a them followed by some recipes of the most well known dishes of each state. I was surprised to see that not the state but Hyderabad was also featured and more than half a dozen recipes of dishes except biryani. It has some really stunning colour photographs of some dishes by Christine Hanscomb. It looked like a collector’s item and I am glad I found this wonderful book.
The next find also happened to be another cookbook. In a heap of books being sold for twenty rupees near Bata I found a book with a bright yellow cover. It was ‘Punjabi Cooking’ with Premjit T. Gill. It has, as the title suggests, recipes of Punjabi dishes-vegetarian, non-vegetarian, desserts and such things. It is a no-frills book with the sort of font that was common in the eighties and a few line drawings. I liked the simple presentation and hence picked up the book.
In another twenty rupee heap of books I spotted a book with an intriguing cover. The book I spotted was ‘The Hi-Lo Country’ by Max Evans described as ‘one of the greatest Western writers of all time’ on the cover that also had a photograph of a scene from a movie of the same name by Stephen Frears. It seemed an interesting book and since I hadn’t heard of Max Evans I picked it up. I don’t know when I will read it but I hope to read it sometime this year.
On the way back home, at Chikkadpally, I found the book I had missed buying the previous Sunday. I got the copy of ‘Brunizem’ by Sujatha Bhatt published by Penguin. It is a collection of sixty poems in three sections: The First Disciple (18 poems), A Different History (20 poems), and Eurydice Speaks (22 poems). It was a recipient of the Commowealth Poetry Prize (Asia), it says on the cover. This is the 117th book I bought this year and it looks like I will end up buying about 150 books this year too what with three more months left for the year to end including the Hyderabad Book Fair that might be sometime in December.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 25-09-2016)

In the dismal, rain-soaked week that passed by in Hyderabad there was only one ray of sunshine-it did not rain on Sunday. Though the skies were overcast all day giving the impression that it might rain at any moment not a drop fell from morning till night. I had thought that the Sunday at Abids would be a wash out since it had rained quite heavily on Saturday in the evening and continued into the night. Luckily for me the rains took a break last Sunday.
The Sunday before last I had missed buying a couple of good titles I had seen at Chikkadpally. So last Sunday I decided to stop at Chikkadpally first before going to Abids. Luckily, the titles I wanted to pick up were still with the seller. I picked up ‘Inner Spaces- New Writing by Women Writers from Kerala’ that was published in 1993. It was in a good condition with a bright yellow cover that was very attractive. It has fifteen stories by the following writers: Lalitambika Antharjanam (The Admission of Guilt), Sarah Thomas (When Dreams Turn Live), Shobha Warrier (Granny), B. Saraswathy (The Fisherman), K. Saraswathi Amma (The Soil that Grows Diamonds), K.B. Sreedevi (The Stone Woman), M.D. Retnamma (The Cow), Rajalekshmy (In the Temple), Ashita (Incomplete Stops), Kamala Das (The Game of Chess), P. Vatsala (Chamundi’s Pit), P.R. Shyamala (The Guest Who Came in a Palanquin), Nalini Bakel (The Third Night), Manasi (The Sword of the Princess), Sarah Joseph (The Symphony of the Forest).
The other title was ‘The Lunar Visitations’ by Sudeep Sen which was a title I had read about a long time back. It is divided into six sections: Prologue (Eclipse), The Ceremony, The Lovers and the Moon, Nightscape in a Moonlit City, and Epilogue (The Triads) that have a total of thirty one poems. I was glad I had the sense to buy this title the second time I saw it. I got both these books for fifty rupees. But I couldn’t locate the third title which was another collection of poetry by Sujata Bhatt. The seller said he had it somewhere but wasn’t sure where. He looked for a long time but couldn’t locate it. He promised to find it and keep it aside for me to pick up on the way back. Ultimately he couldn’t find it when I returned from Abids.

At Abids I found three more books in addition to the two books I had picked up at Chikkadpally. Last Sunday too I was alone on the hunt for books as my friends did not turn up.
One author I had discovered quite by accident was Charles McCarry. This was in 2014 when I found three books by him within a span of a couple of months. Sometime in January, 2014 I came across ‘The Tears of Autumn’ that I picked up on a hunch. After reading it I wanted to find more books by McCarry. Luckily in April the same year I found ‘The Better Angels’ and two months later, in June, I found ‘The Miernik Dossier’ that I finished reading only recently. ‘The Tears of Autumn’ was one of the best books I read in 2014 and since then I’ve had an eye out for titles by Charles McCarry. So when I spotted ‘Second Sight’ at the bottom of a vertical stack of books I had it taken out. I got it for just thirty rupees.
I had heard of ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre’ but wasn’t able to remember the author’s name. When I spotted ‘The Bridge in the Jungle’ and picked it up to have a closer look because it was a Penguin title, something which I don’t pass over, I read it was a book by B. Traven, author of ‘The Treasure of Sierra Madre.’ What made me decide on buying this title, apart from it being a Penguin title, was what V.S. Pritchett wrote about this title on the back of the book. It said, “This is one of Traven’s quiet, profoundly intuitive and very frightening Mexican stories, in which a single incident… is expanded until it precipitates an indescribable atmosphere of primitive mystery, alarm and suspense.’
My collection of cookbooks is slowly expanding and is now big enough to fill a bookshelf. Though it is a modest collection it did not have a single title by one of the most popular names- Madhur Jaffrey. Last Sunday at last I found a Madhur Jaffrey title- ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s Cookbook: Food for Family and Friends.’ Though it was published in 1989 it was in a very good condition. I got it for just fifty rupees that I paid to the seller as soon as he quoted the price. I was glad that last Sunday’s haul of five books included two volumes of poetry, a fiction title, a collection of stories, and a cookbook.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 18-09-2016)

One of the advantages of going to Abids in the morning on Sundays is that one can be among the first to rummage through the pile of fresh stocks of books on the pavements even before anyone has got the chance to do so. The chances of finding good titles are high in the mornings than at any other time of the day and this is one reason why I usually browse for books at Abids in the morning. Sometimes when it is not possible to go in the morning I make it a point to go in the afternoon. Due to an event at my son’s college which I had to attend last Sunday I couldn’t be at Abids in the morning. But I went in the afternoon because my Sundays are not complete without visiting Abids even if it is for an hour or so.
Once again it was a solo hunt as my friends did not turn up. Mercifully it did not rain. The search resulted in just one find but it was a good find. It is not usual to find ‘faber and faber titles at Abids. I’ve found only a hand of ‘faber and faber titles during my more than two decades of book hunting at Abids. Last Sunday the title I found turned out to be an ff title. I saw Michael Dibdin’s ‘The Tryst’ with a black metallic cover that stood out in the heap of books with a seller. On the front cover was Ruth Rendell’s blurb that said “Tremendously exciting…. This is a novel both subtle and horrific” which was enough to make me pick up ‘The Tryst’ that I got very cheap. I paid just thirty rupees for it.

The previous Sunday I had missed picking up Bharati Mukherjee’s ‘Jasmine’ that I had seen at Chikkadpally and had decided that I would buy it this Sunday. But this Sunday I couldn’t locate it with the seller at Chikkadpally. However I saw other titles I now wish I had bought right away but did not. I will write about those titles that I missed buying if I find them next Sunday.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 11-9-2016)

Last Friday’s post was supposed to have begun differently. I had thought of writing about the weather first before writing about what I had found at Abids. I had thought that the weather was changing. There was something about the sunlight that made me think that winter was around the corner. It looked like it wouldn’t rain anymore and that thought lifted my moods. A day later, on Saturday it poured like anything all day. It appeared like the rain would continue the next day too. But luckily it stopped raining early on Sunday morning. It was cloudy but it did not look like it would rain when I set out for Abids.

I was alone at Abids last Sunday without my friends and I decided to focus on the search for good titles. However luck eluded me and I couldn’t find anything worth buying for a long time. In the end I found a book that had a good cover, a good title, and was also about something I had grown interested in. I found a nice copy of ‘The Joy of Vegetarian Cooking’ by Jasleen Dhamija. It was a Penguin title and I did not even check what was inside before buying it. It was yet another welcome addition to my growing collection of cookbooks.
The other Sunday I had seen a nice copy of ‘Jasmine’ by Bharati Mukherjee at a seller in Chikkadpally. I did not buy it right away and thought I would buy it the next week. So last Sunday after finding ‘The Joy of Vegetarian Cooking’ I was keen to get to Chikkadpally. Unfortunately for me it began to rain and by the time I got to Chikkadpally the seller had spread a large plastic sheet over his books. With the rain coming down in sheets I couldn’t ask him to take off the cover and look for ‘Jasmine’ that I was keen to buy. So I had to return home with just Jasleen Dhamija’s cookbook.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 4-9-2016)

Yesterday, by a curious coincidence I was reading a book by David Pryce Jones on Graham Greene’s writing when the next chapter I came upon in Navtej Sarna’s ‘Second Thoughts,’ that I am dipping into occasionally, also happened to be on Graham Greene. One of the books I had bought at Abids last Sunday happened to be one by Graham Greene- ‘The Ministry of Fear’- which was also written about in David Pryce Jones’ book.
Somehow I had come rather late to Graham Greene. Although I came across his ‘Brighton Rock,’ ‘The Power and the Glory’ on the pavements at Abids I did not pick them up feeling that I wasn’t yet ready for Graham Greene. A long time back I had found a book of essays by Greene that I read soon after. Then slowly I began to collect his titles one by one. I found his ‘Journey Without Maps’ recently and before that I had picked up ‘The Man Within’ after I read ‘The Man Within My Head’ by Pico Iyer.

I had also found ‘The Heart of the Matter’ and also ‘The Lawless Roads’ after reading which I felt I had been a bit dumb not to have read Graham Greene much earlier. I am captivated by Graham Greene’s writing and now I try not to miss any of his titles whenever I come across them. So far I haven’t found ‘The Ministry of Fear’ so when I saw it at Abids I made a grab for it. I got it for just thirty rupees.
The other book I found at Abids was a beautiful, brand new copy of ‘The Foolproof Cookbook’ by Rohini Singh. I already possess a copy of the same book but it is not as good as the copy I found on Sunday. It was for a hundred rupees but I did not paying that much for it. In the next couple of weeks I may have to start cooking for myself because now I plan to set up house at either Nalgonda or Suryapet where I am likely to be posted after the formation of the new districts in the State. This book might be useful then.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 28-08-2016)

Away from Hyderabad for two weeks on official work I badly missed three things: my family, home cooked food, and the Sunday trips to Abids. I could lessen the anguish of not being with my family by talking to them over phone every day, and also sneak out to a hotel to have something different from the stuff being provided to us but there wasn’t anything I could do to get over the massive disappointment of not being able to browse for books at Abids on two Sundays. Ironically, I had forgotten to pack a couple of books to take along on the trip. I had brought along only one book- The Cost of Living’ by Mavis Gallant. I read just one story a day from this terrific collection of short stories. Even then after just a week I ran out of reading material. Luckily for I had a book at office that someone managed to get for me. It was ‘Travelling in Nepal’ by Charlie Pye Smith.

Anyway, last Sunday despite being not too well I went to Abids eager to meet my friends and browse to my heart’s content. I don’t know why but it seems the traffic cops had made the pavement booksellers to limit their displays so it meant that many of the booksellers had just a few books laid out. It was very disappointing but I guess since it was the Hyderabad Marathon the cops must have tried to make sure the runners don’t tread on the books!

I found only one book and it was a wonderful title. I found a collection of stories by Joyce Carol Oates titled ‘faithless: tales of transgression’ that had twenty one stories in three parts: Au Sable; Agly; Lover; Summer Sweat; Questions;Physical; Gunlove in Part One, Faithless; The Scarf; What Then, My Life?; Secret, Silent in Part TWO; A Manhattan Romance; Murder-Two; The Vigil; We Were Worried About You; The Stalker; The Vampire; Tusk; The High School Sweetheart: A Mystery; Death Watch; in *COPLAND* in Part THREE. For a book with twenty one stories it is quite bulky and appears like half a brick. I was glad to find this book but had to pay a hundred rupees for it. I am sure the book is worth more than what I paid for it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Long Break

After completing nine years of this blog I thought I deserved a short break. I got a break from unexpected quarters. The Government (my employer) itself gave me a break by sending me away from home for two long weeks. Naturally I couldn't go to Abids for the past two Sundays and hence no posts here. I came home only two days ago from that strenuous duty bringing with me fever, cold and a nagging cough. Right now I am recovering from it all and promise to post something next Friday. Until then let me rest :)

Friday, August 05, 2016

Nine Years On and The Sunday Haul

I’m a bit surprised that I’ve managed to keep this blog running for nine years. I am not known to be tenacious at anything that requires regular effort so last week when I noticed that I have completed nine years of blogging I felt pleased. While thinking of what could have made me keep this blog afloat for so long two things struck me as possible factors. One was that the time this job in the government that allowed me to write sometimes in the office. Sometimes I go through days with almost nothing to do and on such days I try to fill the time by reading and writing which is far better than chatting with colleagues. The second factor is that the fear of becoming just another boring bureaucrat must have made me keep on writing the blog so that I have something to show that I am something more than a mere file pusher. Anyway I am pleased that this blog has now crept into its tenth year. If I keep at it for another year it means that I’ve done it for almost half of my service in the government. It is thanks to all those who follow this blogo and also to those who aren’t followers but who read this blog regularly and leave comments occasionally.
One thing I regret is that I am not travelling as much as I wish to. I haven’t been anywhere exotic or even far off sine long other than that single trip to the Andamans that I made exactly ten years ago. It seems highly unlikely that I’ll make another such trip given that I am not longer young. I am fifty three now in case you didn’t know.

However what lessens the frustration of not having travelled much is the travel books I keep finding and read. Except for a couple of travel writers like Patrick Leigh Fermor I think I’ve found books by almost all the big names in travel literature like Wilfred Thesiger, Jan Morris, and Pico Iyer. I even have a copy of Moritz Thomsen’s ‘The Saddest Pleasure’ that I found a couple of years ago at Abids. The Sunday before last I had found a list of travel titles in a book I found at Abids and I realized that there are many travel writers and their books that I do not know about. It humbled me, honestly. Last Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to find another travel title by a writer I haven’t heard anywhere before. Since it was a Penguin title I literally pounced on it to grab it like before anyone could set their eyes on it.

The title I found was ‘West of Centre’ by Ray Ericksen and it was, as the blurb on the cover says ‘A Journey of Discovery into the Heartland of Australia’ and I have kept it aside as my next immediate read.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 23-07-2016)

My weekly visits to Abids every Sunday have been yielding a regular haul of books. I bring home at least two good books from Abids every Sunday. This has resulted in overflowing bookshelves at home crammed with books. This year so far I have bought about 106 books, all of them (in my view) fantastic titles that I have brought with the intention of reading, obviously. Last Sunday was no different and I added five more titles to this figure.
The Sunday before the last I had found Series II of Sahitya Akademi’s ‘Contemporary Indian Short Stories’ that had a story by an author I had been looking for. I had bought it because it had a story by Pudumai Pitthan. Though there were Series I, III, and also IV I did not buy them for some reason. Last Sunday I bought series I and II but left Series IV behind to be picked up next Sunday. Series I has fifteen stories and Series III has nineteen stories. These series have stories translated into English that were by writers of all Indian languages that would be difficult to find at one place. I am glad I found these series. Next Sunday I will buy Series IV. I do not think anybody would be interested in it so I am certain it will be at the same place I saw it last Sunday.
Another title I bought was a title someone I am bumping into at Abids told me was a good read. I have read David Morrell earlier but since I haven’t read ‘Extreme Denial’ I bought it to avoid disappointing a fellow book lover. In the same heap of books I saw a couple of titles by a writer whose books I see quite often at Abids. Somehow I have resisted buying T. Jefferson Parker’s books so far but last Sunday I decided to picked up one title and that was ‘Silent Joe’ just to see if he is any good.
The most interesting find of the day was a title I picked up right away the moment I spotted it. The title was ‘Travels in Nepal’ by Charlie Pye Smith which I bought because I love to read travelogues. Another reason why I bought it was that it was a Penguin title that I cannot resist buying. In one of the pages at the back I found ‘The Penguin Travel Library’ which is a selection of about two dozen travel titles published by Penguin. I was quite thrilled to find that I have ‘Hindoo Holiday’ by AJ Ackerley, ‘Indian Summer’ by James Cameron, ‘Stones of Florence and Venice Observed’ by Mary McCarthy, and also ‘Mash Arabs’ by Wilfred Thesiger. After seeing the titles in the list I want to look out for all those I do not have especially ‘First Russia, Then Tibet’ by Robert Byron and also ‘A Little Tour in France’ by Henry James. One travel writer whose books I have been unable to find is Patrick Leigh Fermor. I wish I could lay my hands on one of his titles somewhere soon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 17-07-16)

Most of the titles I’ve picked up purely on a hunch at Abids have turned out to be those written by good writers I haven’t had the luck to know until then. In this manner I have found Ross MacDonald, Ross Thomas, Peter Blauner and other writers. I do not hesitate if I find a Penguin title by writers I haven’t heard about before since I know Penguin publishes only good writers. Last Sunday I came across a Penguin title that I bought right away.
I found this title with the seller at RTC X Roads who kept this title in a heap of twenty rupees books. It was ‘An Exile’ by Madison Jones, which, I read on the cover was also made into a movie under the title ‘I Walk the Line.’ ‘An Exile’ is a small, slim title with just 156 pages. I love these kind of novels that tell a story in under two hundred pages because it doesn’t take me more than a day to finish reading them.
The previous Sunday I had picked up ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy from this same heap but not her other title ‘A Charmed Life’ that was also in the same heap. I decided that I would buy it this Sunday if it was still in the same place. It was and I bought this title too for twenty rupees only. Sometimes after you finish reading a good book by an author you haven’t heard before you wish you could read other titles by the same author. Since I read that ‘The Group’ is a good book I hope I will like it and also read ‘A Charmed Life’ next.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 10-07-2016)

The second hand book sellers of Abids who were scattered and in disarray on all Sundays during the month of Ramzan that got just over were back to their usual places last Sunday. This was comforting because it meant that it improved my chances of finding some good titles that I usually find at some of the good sellers at Abids. Needless to say last Sunday I ended up finding three good books.
The first find of the day was a collection of short stories- Series II of the Contemporary Indian Short Stories- brought out by the Sahitya Akademi. Though there were all the series from Series I to Series IV with the seller I had reason to buy only Series-II. Sometime back I had read about Pudumai Pithan, the Tamil short story writer whose works I was desperately hoping to find some day. I was glad I found one of his stories- The Redemption- in this volume that had twenty stories by different authors translated into English from different languages. After I went home I realized that it would have been better if I had bought all the series. Next Sunday I will buy them if I find them.
The second find was a title I picked up on a hunch. In a heap of books that were being sold for Rs 20 each I spotted the title ‘Law and Order’ on an attractive cover. The author was Dorothy Uhnak and it was a name that I was coming across for the first time. I read inside that Uhnak had been a police officer and ‘Law and Order’ was her first book. I had a hunch that it could be a good book and so I bought it. Later when I checked out the reviews online I discovered that I had indeed bought a good title. I hope to find her bestseller ‘The Investigation’ and other titles by Dorothy Unhak soon.
The third and last find was another wonderful title. I already own a good copy of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf that I found a couple of years ago. I saw another nice copy of this same title with a seller who manages to stock some good titles in the few dozen tattered books that he displays. This copy was in a good condition except for a stain on the bottom of the cover that seems to have spread to some of the first few pages. Otherwise it looked new. I bought it to add it to a couple of books I plan to a dear friend who lives in Mumbai.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 3-7-2016)

Of the many agonies that some bibliophiles like me experience one in particular I face quite often. When one is looking for a particular title by an author that has made him/her famous it is agonizing to find other titles by the author other than the one you are searching for. I’ve gone through this agonizing experience several times in the past. I’ve come across ‘Killing Mister Watson’ and also ‘At Play in the Fields of the Lord’ when I was looking for Peter Matthiessen’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ that I ultimately found after a long search. Similarly I came across copies of ‘Play as it Lays’ by Joan Didion and other titles when it was her ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ that I was desperately looking for. While looking for JM Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ I kept seeing many copies of ‘The Life and Times of K’ until finally I found it sometime recently.

For me this agony is doubled because I have developed this curious habit of not reading any other title by an author until I’ve read the title that made the author famous. Though it was ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy that I was hoping to find since a long time I never was able to find a single copy all these years. However I found ‘Venice Observed’ a couple of years ago but haven’t read it because I wanted to read ‘The Group’ first before reading other titles by this author.

Last Sunday, finally, I spotted an old copy of ‘The Group’ with a seller at the RTC Crossroads on the way back home from Abids where I hadn’t been lucky. The copy of ‘The Group’ I saw had a faded cover and looked like a very old copy. No wonder the seller had dumped it in a heap of books being sold for twenty rupees. I took it but not the copy of ‘The Charmed Circle’that was also there in the same heap. Now I am wondering if I should have bought this title too.

Friday, July 01, 2016

A Midweek Haul

Last Sunday’s visit to Abids did not yield even a single title in the haul. I came home empty handed after a long time. I wasn’t disappointed though because I met my friends and fellow book lovers. We had sat in another café we’ve begun to haunt because the café which was our regular meeting place was razed to the ground a couple of months ago. We talked about books, writers, movies, and the trending topic- the potholes on the roads of Hyderabad. The time spent in the company of friends made it possible to forget that I hadn’t picked up anything at Abids.

Later on the way back home, at Chikkadpally, I had seen a good copy of ‘The Sly Company of People Who Care’ by Rahul Bhattacharya. I decided I would buy this title after a couple of Sundays after wearing down the seller who was asking for a high price for it.
However, on Monday I happened to drop in at the MR Bookstore branch beside the flyover near Punjagutta. I saw a good copy of ‘My Own Country’ by Abraham Varghese. Sometime back I had read his ‘The Tennis Partner’ and right away decided to read his other books. Though I picked up ‘My Own Country’ and held it in my hand I came across another wonderful title that I instantly decided to buy instead of Abraham Varghese’s book. I found ‘Yesterday Morning’ by Diana Athill. Finding a good copy of ‘Stet’ by this celebrated editor on the pavements of Abids was one of the few thrilling moments of my life half spent dredging for books. This joy was doubled when I found a second copy shortly afterwards. Anyway, I bought ‘Yesterday Morning’ by Diana Athill, a remarkable editor, and also a person who led a very interesting life.