After more than a month I finally got to go to Abids. The odd relaxation timing during the lockdown here, from six in the morning to ten for a couple of weeks, and until one in the afternoon for another couple of weeks meant I could not go to Abids on Sundays. Now that the relaxation is until five in the evening I thought I’d go and check out the pavement book bazaar. I really missed going to Abids for my weekly book hunting so when I arrived at Abids and found that almost all the booksellers were at their usual places I felt pretty excited at the prospect of finding something good.
While at school and college I used to participate in quizzes where one of the questions would be who wrote ‘Thirukural’? Also in the many competitive tests I wrote there would be the same question- author of ‘Thirukural?’ I knew what it was but never got around to finding more about it. I never thought that there would be English translations of the great Tamil classic until I saw a copy of ‘Kural’ by Thruvalluvar last Sunday.
A few Sundays ago before the lockdown I had seen a copy of ‘Autumn Lights’ by Pico Iyer, that for some reason, I did not buy right away. The seller told me he had another copy so I went away thinking I would buy it another Sunday. When I looked for it again, needless to say, it was gone and the seller did not remember telling me he had two copies. Once again I felt stupid for having let go of a good book. However, last Sunday the second copy surfaced on the shelf of the seller and I grabbed it. I got it for two hundred rupees.
Next to this seller is another seller I like very much because he doesn’t have any clue about the value of the books he sells. He has only one way of pricing the books, all books big or small at the same price. Since a few weeks I have been on an Africa binge reading all books about or set in the African countries. In the past few weeks I have read ‘French Lessons in Africa’ by Peter Biddlecombe, ‘Africa’ by David Lamb, ‘When a Crocodile Eats the Sun’ by Peter Godwin, and ‘The Healing Land’ by Rupert Isaacson as part of a plan to read all Africa titles in my collection. I do not know why but I am fascinated by Africa, and want to read as many books on Africa as I can find. Luckily, the clueless seller had a copy of ‘Carcase for Hounds’ by Meja Mwangi, another title in the African Writer series. A while back I had picked up another title from this series, ‘People of the City’ by Cyprian Ekwensi. Anyway I got ‘Carcase for Hounds’ that is set in Kenya and is about the Mau Mau struggle that I am keen to know more about since I had read different versions of this struggle. I got this book for just twenty rupees.
On the way back home from Abids I stopped, as usual, to look at the titles that one of the three book sellers at Chikkadpally had on the pavement. I spotted a title I had seen earlier- ‘The House on Mall Road’ by Mohyna Srinivasan. I hadn’t felt like picking it up the last time I saw it but on Sunday I bought because I noticed it was a Penguin title and also had a blurb by Pico Iyer, a combination impossible to resist. I got it for a hundred rupees.