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 café 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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 23-08-2015)

It looks like I’ve stumbled upon another master of crime thrillers almost by accident. There are some book covers, often titles, or the author’s name that exert a powerful pull on you. Last Sunday, while at the Abids book bazaar, I came upon a copy of ‘High Sierra’ by WR Burnett. After I picked it up for a closer look somehow I felt that I had to buy it. I did not take long to decide to buy it. Surprisingly I got it for only twenty rupees. Later I saw that WR Burnett had written some pretty good titles. I felt lucky I found another new crime fiction author. One of these days I plan to start reading ‘High Sierra’.
I had been looking for a good copy of Jerry Pinto’s ‘Surviving Women’ that at last I found at Abids last Sunday. Ever since I read that this title was written as a kind of riposte to Shobha De’s ‘Surviving Men,’ I have been looking for ‘Surviving Women’ but I plan to read it only after reading ‘Surviving Men’. I wonder when I will find it. It would be the only book by Shobha De that I would have read.
The next title I found was another travel book by a famous author of an earlier generation. I found a nice copy of ‘Twilight in Italy’ by DH Lawrence that I got pretty cheap. I paid only forty rupees for this small book. I had been looking for short story collections of VS Pritchett but haven’t been able to find them anywhere. Last Sunday I found ‘A Cab at the Door/Midnight Oil’ by VS Pritchett in a heap of books. This was two books in one version of his autobiography.
Jai dropped in at Abids and while we were having chai at our usual Irani joint before foraying into the book-lined pavements he gifted me a copy of ‘The Laughing Policeman’ by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 16-8-2015)

It had been a long time since it had rained all night and also the following morning in Hyderabad. I wouldn’t have minded if it was any other day but the next morning it happened to be Sunday. The continuous downpour washed away my Sunday morning routine of taking a long walk and later sitting in an Irani café near home and reading all the Sunday papers. One by one my Sunday routines were being washed out as the rain showed no sign of abating. When it looked like it would rain all day I thought I may not be able to go to Abids to look for books when all of a sudden it stopped raining. I rushed out on the bike to Abids feeling glad.

After a lengthy chat over tea in the Irani café we started out. Because it was still cloudy and looked like there would be more rain, not many of the sellers had kept their books on the pavement. So there wasn’t much to look. I manage to spot another copy of ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus. This copy was a different edition, bigger than the one I found last Sunday and also had a different cover. Later after I bought it for only fifty rupees I learnt that it had an ‘Afterword’ as well. The copy I had bought the other week did not have it. That was the only title I found at Abids last Sunday.
Earlier in the week I had been to Landmark with Hari. I was very surprised that the shelves which had held thousands of books now held toys. The entire book section was relegated to a side and seemed to occupy not more than one tenth of the store. It seemed an ominous sign since the Landmark at Banjara Hills had shut down and I wondered if the Somajiguda branch too might be going the same way in the near future. However, though the number of books had shrunk I happened to see a shelf completely filled with little books with black covers that caught my eye. They were ‘Little Black Classics’ from Penguin. I loved the size, handy enough to fit into a shirt pocket with not more than 60 pages. The biggest surprise was the price. They were Rs 49 each and very affordable. I picked up ‘Aphorisms on Love and Hate’ by Friedrich Nietzsche and also ‘Remember, Body…’ by C.P. Cavafy. Hari picked up nearly thirty titles and paid for mine too which was the icing on the cake.
I came to learn that the long awaited book exhibition and sale by Best Books is set to begin from 1st of September until 12th September. The timing of the sale suits me because the wallet will be full as the sale begins on payday.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Sunday Haul (12-08-2015)

This blog is now in its ninth year.

Last Sunday was International Book Lovers Day and I wasn’t even aware there such a day. However, I was able to prove my love for books by picking up five books at Abids. Once again I brought home a haul of five books. This is the fourth or fifth successive Sunday of a book haul of more than four titles. Somehow I am unable to restrain myself from buying titles that I already have and two titles in last Sunday’s five book haul are copies of titles I have bought previously. I am simply unable to leave behind good copies of titles I love.

This blog is now into its ninth year.
The first book I picked up at Abids last Sunday was a good copy of ‘Mister Johnson’ by Joyce Cary that I spotted in a heap of books selling for only thirty rupees. Sometime during this year I guess I had found my first copy of this title that I had been looking for. Though I am yet to read it I am glad I found a second copy of this book.
The second title I picked up in another heap was ‘Angel in the Parlor’ by Nancy Willard that I got for thirty rupees. I remember reading about this book in a book on writing. ‘Angel in the Parlor’ has eight essays on writing as well as five short stories so it is a sort of two-in-one book. The stories in it are: Her Father’s House; Animals Running on a Windy Crown; The Doctrine of the Leather-Stocking Jesus; The Tailor Who Told the Truth; Amyas Axel, His Care and Keep.
In keeping with my decision to read all the major classics I picked up a nice copy of ‘Jane Eyre’ by Emily Bronte that I got for only twenty rupees. There were three copies available and I made my friends buy the other two copies.
A long time ago, more than a couple of years ago in fact, I found ‘Hunting for Mister Heartbreak- A Discovery of America’ by Jonathan Raban but I do not remember where I found it. But I didn’t get around to reading this hefty hard bound book that runs to more than 370 pages. Last Sunday at Abids I found another title by Jonathan Raban - ‘Old Glory-American Voyage’ which was another hefty hard bound book of more than 408 pages. I don’t know when I will get around to reading this book but I bought it anyhow. Coincidentally, I have just finished reading ‘Looking for America’ by Avirook Sen and currently reading ‘Roadrunner’ by Dilip D’Souza. Afterwards I plan to read the Jonathan Raban titles one after the other.
My last find of Sunday was not at Abids but at the seller near ‘RTC X Road’ on the way home. In a jumble of books for sale at only twenty rupees I spotted an old copy of ‘The Outsider’ by Albert Camus. I had read it but I don’t remember if I have a copy of it or not so I picked it up. I think this is the best find of last Sunday and I am pretty pleased with my haul.

Friday, August 07, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 02-08-2015)

It was yet another Sunday when I didn’t return home empty handed from Abids. In fact, I returned home with four books, each of them a title that I did not want to leave behind on the pavement. One of the books was one I had two copies with me. My first find at Abids, soon after parking my bike, was ‘Aspects of the Novel’ by EM Forster. It was a beautiful copy, a Penguin edition with a picture of EM Forster on the cover. Only a couple of months ago I had picked up my second copy of this title but I felt I had to have this copy. So I picked it up though I had to pay a hundred rupees for it. I hadn’t felt reading the other copies I had but after finding this Penguin edition of ‘Aspects of the Novel’ I might get around to reading it at last.
Sometime two years ago I had picked up a book on a hunch. It was ‘Tumbleweed’ by Janwillem van de Wetering. I had the good sense to read it right away though I had never heard of the writer. After reading it I realized that I had discovered another good crime fiction writer and wondered if I would be able to find other titles by Janwillem van de Wetering. Luckily, last Sunday I chanced upon another Janwillem van de Wetering title- ‘Hard Rain’ that I got quite cheap from a heap of books selling for only thirty rupees each. It was in quite good condition and finding it made me quite happy maybe with the realization that I indeed have an eye for spotting some really good titles.
Another title in one of the Len Deighton trilogies landed in the haul on Sunday. I found ‘Match’ by Len Deighton in another heap of books selling for twenty rupees. It was in a good condition and I was glad I am coming closer to completing at least one trilogy. I had seen a copy of ‘Mexico Set’ somewhere at Abids and I will buy it if I happen to see it again next Sunday. Once I find it then I will start reading the first of the ‘Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match’ trilogy. It has been a long time since I read a Deighton title with Bernard Samson in it.
Usually I stay clear of books written by bureaucrats because most of the time the language is dull and reads like some official document apart from being totally uninteresting and also pompous sounding. Sometimes I think the only people who read books, especially memoir-like accounts, are the people close to the bureaucrat. I think they write such books because not finding any post-retirement sinecure they spend the time writing such memoirs. I come across many such titles by former IAS officers. But I want to read books written by young serving bureaucrats and when I came across ‘Poor But Spirited in Karimnagar’ by Sumita Dawra I wanted to read the book. When I saw a good copy at Abids I picked it up. It would be interesting to read this book about the experiences of a District Collector in a district since I began my career in the Government with a field posting.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 26-07-2015)

I do not exactly remember where I first about Peter Blauner but I think I read his name in Stephen King’s ‘On Writing.’ Somehow the name seemed to have stuck in my mind and when I came across ‘Casino Moon’ at Abids sometime in April, 2013 I picked it up. I had then thought that it was on a hunch that I had picked up Peter Blauner’s ‘Casino Moon’ but I realized later where I had read about Peter Blauner. After I read ‘Casino Moon’ I wanted to read all the books Peter Blauner had written because I enjoyed his writing. Luckily enough, after a few months I found ‘Slow Motion Riot’ at the book fair in December, 2013. It was another good read. I was hooked but I couldn’t find other titles by Peter Blauner until last Sunday.
In a heap of books selling for twenty rupees I came across a brand new copy of ‘Man of the Hour’ by Peter Blauner. There were a couple of people poking about in the same pile so I grabbed the book before their eyes fell on it. I needn’t have because I thought there were few people who knew about Peter Blauner. But I did not want to take any risk so I paid the twenty rupees and was on my way to the next heap where I found another short story collection.
I had heard the name ‘Ashapurna Devi’ quite a few times but did not actually read anything she had written. Now I am going to because I found a slim collection of short stories titled ‘A Bouquet of Modern Short Stories’ that I got for only ten rupees. It had five stories: The Actress (Abhinetri), Earth (Mrittika), The Point Beyond the Limit (Seemarekhar Seema), The Match Box (Deshlal Baksho) and The Many Colours of Renunciation (Bairagyer Rong) and the stories were translated by Anima Bose.
Another book I picked up was ‘Don’t Stop the Carnival’ by Herman Wouk. I am seeing this copy since ages with a seller and finally I decided to buy it. I had read somewhere that is a good book but I will know if it is only after I manage to find the time to read it.
Another book I found was ‘The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver’ by Syd Field that I bought for quite a substantial amount in the hope that I would manage to find what the problem was with the script I had written. I really hope it is worth the two hundred rupees I paid for it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Fountain Pen Haul at Pune- 3 FPs from Kale Pens

There are many cities in the country I haven’t been to and Pune happens to be one of them. After a long time I got the chance to travel on office work, only this time it happened to be to attend a training program at Pune. Actually, I volunteered to go since I wasn’t feeling very cheery being cooped up at the Secretariat here for months together. It had become so tedious and boring this chance to go to Pune came like a heaven sent opportunity. One of the things I do before I visit any place is to check if there are any places where I can get second hand books or fountain pens that are locally made.

As it happened it rained the two days I was at Pune. I can withstand anything, intense heat, or even low temperatures, anything like that except rain. In fact, I hate it when it rains. Others may find it romantic to be out in the rain but if I get wet it triggers my sinus problems. It is one reason why I hate rain. Another reason is that it puts me in a bad mood. So I was in a bad mood when I reached Pune late in the night. It got worse when two friends I was supposed to meet changed plans literally at the last minute. I decided to venture out to look for Kale Pens which I had read about on a blog.
Kale Pens was near the Dadgu Seth Temple and I stopped it quite easily. It is a very small store with the air of a shop that had been around for quite a long time. Everything in it seemed ancient, the shelves, the pens (which weren’t many) and a few photographs. I spotted the fountain pens in the counter and the person took them out to show them to me. The pens were of plastic and did not seem very attractive but nevertheless I bought three of them. Each pen was just thirty rupees. Though not very attractive, the pens seemed simple and functional, just the type I prefer. The person pressed the nib on the corner of the table and dipped it in ink and scribbled to test how it wrote. He did it with all the three pens I chose before giving them to me.
After buying the three fountain pens at Kale Pens my mood improved a little despite the rain. I walked around for a while on the slushy roads of the buzzing market place. There wasn’t much traffic around which was quite a change for me from the mad traffic in Hyderabad. The drivers of the cars and other two wheelers did not seem to be in any hurry to get anywhere unlike those in Hyderabad who drive as if they are in a tearing hurry to reach their destinations. I had missal-pav in a small eatery near the temple and a tumbler of tea at another joint behind the temple before heading to the institute. I spent the day with suppressed anticipation, wondering when I would get back to Hyderabad, fill the pens with ink and try them out.

Back at home in Hyderabad I filled ink in one of the pens and tried it out. The nib was smooth and the pen was light in the hand. However the ink dried up after writing a couple of lines. It was not unexpected but I disappointed with the performance fountain pen. I am hesitant to fill up ink in the other two pens and try them out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Haul at Pune- Two Books

Last week I was in Pune on office work. Pune did not seem to have any place where second hand books were available. Of course there were posts on the net about some places but I wasn’t sure I would be able to check them out. As it happened it rained the two days I was at Pune. On the first day the training session I was attending went on until five in the evening. It was still raining but it was a light drizzle so I decided to check out one of the main streets of Pune and look for the fountain pen store I had read about on a blog. Kale Pens was the store I was looking for.
Later on the way back to the institute where I was staying the autorickshaw I was in was caught in a traffic jam. I happened to look around and saw a shop dealing in newspaper scrap. Even from that distance I could see that there were books on the shelves on the walls of the shop and I realized I might find something there. I decided to come the next day to check them out at leisure. I had the sense to find out the name of the location and I also noted a few names of stores. The store was somewhere in a place called Deepbungalow, Gokhalenagar. Luckily for me the training program ended quite early and I was able to get out of the institute. It wasn’t raining though there were dark clouds hovering above.
I managed to locate the store (Gyaneshwar Raddi, beside Canara Bank, Model Colony Branch) quite easily. There were a few dozen books and I quickly glanced at the titles feverish with anticipation. I hoped to find something good like a title I was looking for since a long time. Though I did not find what I was looking for I found a nice copy of a rare Pearl S Buck title. I hadn’t heard of ‘Mandala’ by Pearl S Buck but I picked it up anyway since it was in good condition. Next I found a nice Penguin copy of ‘Metamorphosis and Other Stories’ by Franz Kafka. I got these two titles for a hundred and fifty rupees which seemed to be not too high a price. I asked the person if there were any other stores around selling second hand books but he said he did not know. But later on I went to Pune camp and somewhere I came across another raddi store which had books on the shelves. But the shopkeeper’s assistant said it was too crowded with piles of newspaper bundles and other stuff and I couldn’t check right away. The elderly storekeeper told me to come the next day. I said I was leaving early in the morning. He checked with his assistant again but he said it was impossible. So I walked on. I guess it is in such stores in Pune that one is likely to find second hand books.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 19-07-2015)

Occasionally the haul consists entirely of titles belonging to one specific genre. Last Sunday at Abids out of my haul of three books two were short story collections. I am always in search of good short story collections and last Sunday I was happy to find a collection of stories by various writers such as Katherine Mansfield, William Faulkner, Ted Hughes and other well known names including two or three names I am not familiar with.
The first book I picked up was a collection of short stories titled ‘Modern Short Stories’ edited by Jim Hunter. I bought this book for only thirty rupees.

This nice title has the following fifteen stories:
The Peaches by Dylan Thomas
The Wedge-Tailed Eagle by Geoffrey Dutton
Her First Ball by Katherine Mansfield
Ha’penny by Alan Paton
The Rain Horse by Ted Hughes
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
The Road by James Hanley
Growing Up by Joyce Carey
Lie Thee Down, Oddity by T.F.Powys
Samphire by Patrick OBrian
Tickets, Please by D.H.Lawrence
Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway
The Ice Palace by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
The Wharf by Walter De La Mare
The other short story collection I found shortly afterwards was ‘The Matisse Stories’ by A.S. Byatt that I got for only fifty rupees. The book is in a wonderful condition and looks quite new. It has a signature and a date 20 April 95 which means that it is twenty years old. But it looks quite new. It has only three stories: Medusa’s Ankles, Art Work, and The Chinese Lobster.
The third and last book in the haul was by a writer I like immensely for the way he writes. I found ‘My Years with BOSS at Gemini Studios’ by Ashokamitran. It is a slim volume, as all his books are, with just forty four pages. I got this for only twenty rupees. It was a great find I guess.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Sunday Haul (on 12-07-2015)


Most Sundays I am in luck while looking for books at Abids and regularly land some good titles. But on some Sundays I am extra-lucky. Last Sunday turned out to be one such Sunday. Though I found only two books they were titles by authors normally difficult to find, especially an author not many had heard of until last year. When it was announced in November last that he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature no one seemed to know much about Patrick Modiano. At that time I had thought that it would be tough, if not impossible, to find any book by Patrick Modiano since he happened to write in French. Of course, I had forgotten about it all until last Sunday.
It was at Chikkadpally, on the way back home that I spotted a copy of ‘The Search Warrant’ by Patrick Modiano. I would have missed finding it had I not looked at the name a second time after retrieving the book from under another bulky book where it was almost hidden. ‘The Search Warrant’ is a slim volume, just 137 pages long and the copy I found was in beautiful condition and appeared to be almost new. However, there was a small bit missing from a few pages and it looked like a termite job. I did not mind it because it is impossible to find a secondhand copy of a book by someone like Patrick Modiano. I felt lucky finding it and luckier still that I had paid only fifty rupees for it.
At Abids, before I found ‘The Search Warrant’ I had picked up another copy by another writer who is likely to win the Nobel in the near future, maybe this year. I found a good copy of Haruki Murakami’s ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ that I managed to buy for only fifty rupees. It is a collection of 24 short stories and this is the second copy I have with me. Long back I had found a hard cover copy of this same title at Abids and I had got it at a much cheaper price. I paid only twenty rupees for this wonderful collection of short stories by Murakami.