Friday, March 25, 2016

A Midweek Haul

A sort of hellish punishment for me is not being able to look for books on the pavements of Sunday. I can barely endure it for a Sunday but total hell if it is for two Sunday. For the past two Sundays I had to endure this deprivation due to the Budget sessions of the Legislatures being held on Sundays also. It meant that I had to be sitting in the Legislative Assembly or the Council almost all day instead of browsing on the pavements of Delhi. When I miss going to Abids on Sunday I try to compensate by dropping in at a second hand book store and gawking at the books. But due to a heavy and busy schedule I couldn’t find the time to visit a secondhand bookstore until last Tuesday. Since Wednesday happened to be a holiday due to Holi I was free on Tuesday and found enough time to visit the MR Bookstore in Begumpet where I found two good titles.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’O is an author whose titles I found entirely by accident some time ago. My first Ngugi title was perhaps ‘Devil on the Cross’ and later I found ‘Dreams in a Time of War’ recently at the Best Books sale in YMCA in January. I also have a collection of his stories that I found sometime last year I guess but I am now unable to recollect the title. Anyway, at the MR store I found a beautiful copy of his ‘Petals of Blood’ for which Ngugi was jailed. I had read about this title somewhere recently and I was thrilled to find a copy so soon.
Another title I picked up in line with my interest in food and cooking was ‘The F-Word’ by Mita Kapur which appears like a memoir peppered with a lot of recipes. I had read about this book too not so recently and had hoped I would get to read it somewhere. But finding a good copy of this wonderful title was a lucky thing. Now I am planning to get a copy of ‘Chillies and Porridge’ edited by Mita Kapur soon.

All the anger and the resentment in my heart at being made to work on two Sundays vanished after finding these two wonderful titles. Next Sunday too happens to be a working day for us and I hope I will get the time, at least in the afternoon, to browse for a short time at Abids.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Sunday Haul (on 6-3-2016)

It was another of searches on Sunday at Abids that resulted in a big haul of titles I couldn’t have found elsewhere at the prices I got them. Last Sunday I found seven wonderful titles that I felt I had to buy at any cost. By the end of February, that is in just two months, I bought a total of forty five books. I had never before bought so many books in the span of just eight weeks. Though this thought was at the back of my mind when I started for Abids on Sunday morning when I saw a nice copy of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ by Sigmund Freud at Chikkadpally I simply couldn’t leave it behind for someone else to buy it. So I had to buy it and luckily the seller offered to give it to me for just fifty rupees.
When I reached Abids the first title I saw was ‘Skin’ by Margaret Mascarenhas. I had read about this author somewhere and since the title was by Penguin I thought maybe it would be a good book nd that I should read it. I paid fifty rupees for this good copy.
The next finds were at a seller who had divided his pile of books into two sections- Books for Rs 30 and Books for Rs 40. In the former heap I came across ‘The Africans’ by David Lamb. I am absolutely fascinated by Africa and have many books by those who had lived and travelled in Africa such as ‘Dark Star Safari’ by Paul Theroux, ‘Journey Without Maps’ by Graham Greene, all the books of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and also books by Ryszard Kapuscinski, Laurens van der Post and so many others I cannot recollect right away. All these books that I’ve read with fascination have left me an image of Africa that I long to see in person someday if I can afford it and if I live long enough.
In the same heap I found another collection of short stories- ‘The Guardian Review Book of Short Stories’ which is a slim volume that contains eleven stories by well-known writers such as William Trevor, Margaret Atwood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helen Simpson, Rose Tremain, Mohsin Hamid, Rachel Cusk, Margaret Drabble, Hisham Matar, Audrey Niffenegger, and Polly Samson. In the introduction to the book it is mentioned that all these eleven stories are previously unpublished stories, and it also says that William Trevor is often cited as ‘the world’s greatest living short story writer.’ A friend of mine had found a copy of this books sometime back and I did not expect to find the same title so it was a pleasant surprise more so since I could get this little gem for just thirty rupees.
In the other heap of books selling for forty rupees I spotted a thick tome that turned out to be ‘When the Lights Go Down’ by Pauline Kael, the famous movie critic. It was a wonderful find because it is quite difficult to find such movie-related titles in Abids. Sometime back I had found a tattered copy of ‘I Lost it at the Movies’ and had been thrilled to find it. Now I was doubly thrilled to find ‘When the Lights Go Down’ which has reviews of more than hundred and sixty movies most of which I hadn’t watched. I guess I will try to watch them after reading Pauline Kael’s reviews. I was quite pleased with myself that I could spot this thick volume of nearly six hundred pages and also get it at such a ridiculously low price.
At a seller who I usually ignore and had been ignoring since a couple of weeks a sudden visit threw up a couple of good books. I saw a beautiful, hardcover copy of ‘Secrets of Better Cooking’ that I felt I must buy since I had just begun dabbling in cooking. It seemed just the book that would make me cook better or so I told myself before buying it. Another book I saw was a nice copy of ‘The Happy Isles of Oceania’ by Paul Theroux that I already have two copies of. But this copy was a paperback and had a different cover. The seller offered to give me these two books at a price I thought was reasonable. Other than that he looked like he hadn’t sold anything since the morning and I took pity on him and bought these two titles.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Sunday Haul

An indication of my growing interest in cooking is that I am picking up every cookbook in sight at Abids and elsewhere. The haul on Sunday was entirely made of three cookbooks. Though I am not getting to learn to cook as much as I want to I am reading up a lot of related books. I managed to find an impressive collection of cookbooks and last Sunday I added three wonderful titles. The first book I found was a beautiful, hardcover copy of ‘Classic Cooking of Punjab’ by Jiggs Kalra and Pushpesh Pant duo that I got for just fifty rupees. It has recipes for several dishes and also some good photographs that had me drooling. Interestingly, just before I began writing this post I read a wonderful article by Chandrahas Chaudhury in Al Jazeera in which he describes Pushesh Pant as 'The Badshah of Indian food’ who had an immense knowledge of Indian food traditions.
The next find seemed a common enough book but I had not seen it anywhere. When I saw ‘Indian Vegetarian Cooking’ by Nita Mehta I decided to buy it. It appeared to have been published a long time back because it had photographs that weren’t so good. However the recipes appeared interesting and simple. I got this book for a mere thirty rupees.
Another cookbook I found was a slim, and small book, or rather, a booklet- ‘Mirch Masala’ by Surayya Tyebji. I got this interesting title that had quite a hundred recipes for just ten rupees. Interestingly all these cookbooks seem to have some kind of introduction to cooking, tips, and description of spices which I find educative because I am not aware of a lot of spices that are commonly used.
On Monday I was somewhere in Greenlands and ended up at the MR Bookstore with the intention of just looking at the shelves. Not very soon after stepping into the store I spotted a good copy of ‘Seasons of the Palm’ by Perumal Murugan. I bought it though it was for a hundred rupees. Inside I read that it was an English translation by V. Geetha from the original in Tamil titled ‘Koolla Madari.’ I had been to the World Book Fair in Delhi on its last day and had picked up another title by Perumal Murugan titled ‘One Part Woman’ that I have yet to start reading. I don’t know when I will read these books but for the time being I am glad I found these books.
Another title I spotted was one I had been looking for since a long time. I have a small collection of books on books, writing, and reading mostly by non-Indian writers. There are so few such books by Indian writers that one can count the titles on the fingers of one hand. There is ‘The Groaning Shelf’ by Pradeep Sebastian, and ‘The Girl Who Ate Books’ by Nilanjana Roy and ‘Second Thoughts’ by Navtej Sarna both that I got as gifts on my birthday, and ‘Would You Like Some Bread with that Book’ by Veena Venugopal that I found to be very funny. Apart from these there is ‘The Big Bookshelf’ by Sunil Sethi that I had been longing to buy. At last I found a second hand copy that I could afford at MR. I bought it for hundred rupees. It is a collection of interviews of authors that Sunil Sethi had on his ‘Just Books’ show on NDTV a few years back. Interestingly I had finished reading ‘The Pillars of Hercules’ by Paul Theroux only the previous day and here was an interview with him in ‘The Big Bookshelf’ that I read first.