Friday, March 07, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
The second find was another book by an Indian writer. I found a nice copy of Anita Desai’s ‘Baumgartner’s Bombay’ which I picked up immediately after spotting it. Luckily, I got this book too quite cheap- forty rupees. The book was in a good condition and the fact that it was a Penguin edition added to my joy of finding it. I had read a collection of her short stories but I haven’t had the opportunity to read a full length novel by Anita Desai so far. I want to begin with ‘Baumgartner’s Bombay’ that I plan to start reading in the coming days.
At the last moment, minutes before we were leaving Abids I spotted Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Wild Mind’ and saw that it was a better copy than the one I had found long back. This is another book of hers on writing, the first one being the famous title ‘Writing Down the Bones’ that I have. Though I already have a copy of ‘Wild Mind’ I bought the copy I found at Abids. It came pretty cheap at fifty rupees.
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Minutes later I saw Graham Greene’s ‘The Heart of the Matter’ that I had been looking for since a long time. I see many copies of ‘The Human Factor’ and ‘Brighton Rock’ but till date I had not been able to get a decent copy of ‘The Heart of the Matter.’ The copy I saw at Abids on Sunday was in good condition and so I bought it for forty rupees.
On the way back home, at one of the sellers at Chikkadpalli I saw Haruki Murakami’s ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ that I don’t think I have in my collection of Murakami titles. I got it for only seventy rupees which is quite a bargain considering how pricey the new copies are. This was the luckiest and the best find of Sunday. With these three titles the number of books I bought so far in this year (2014) is 17. Unless I watch out and cut down on the number of books I routinely pick up every Sunday at Abids and also at second hand book stores I might end up with another ton of books by the end of the year.
Back in the year 2000, when my son was only two years old I filmed my kid and his cousins on a new video camera that my brother had bought. I filled up a couple of cassettes and then forgot all about them until five years later when they turned up while I was cleaning out my shelves. I realized the precious images they cassettes held and wanted to show them to my kid. Alas, the videocamera was not traceable. Someone suggested that I could get the images transferred to a CD. I went around scores of places but they said that the cassettes that I had, small cigarette box type, were out of fashion and they did not have the technology to process them. I was distraught as the years passed by worried that the images would get erased.
Last month I saw an advertisement by Victory studio claiming that they could copy images from obsolete video cassettes to DVDs. I rushed to them the same day and was told that and it would be a fortnight before they could tell me if the cassette was undamaged and if it was possible to copy them to a DVD as their technician was out of station.
I spent a nail-biting fortnight praying that the cassettes be undamaged because they contained some images no amount of money could buy. Luckily, the studio called me and told me that they were able to copy the undamaged footage to a DVD. The original cassettes were of Sony brand and though expensive it is at moments like this that you realize what good quality means. Even after fourteen years the cassettes retained the images without any damage. When I saw the footage on my laptop I was overwhelmed to see how my kid, two years old then, had been.
MEETING A FRIEND AFTER MORE THAN THREE DECADES
There were no videocameras or even decent cameras back in the sixties when we were kids. Only a few people had cameras and hence were lucky enough to capture their memories. The memories of one’s childhood, the good and the bad, are something no one ever forgets. The most important people in your life when you happen to be ten years old are the friends you play with, friends you climb trees with, friends you sit with and share implausible stories, friends who run out their houses whenever you call them and play marbles with at any time of the day. I think friends shape your life in different ways. My life was shaped to a large extent by different sets of friends I had at different times of my life which I spent at a few different places.
I spent my early years in Nizamabad where my father, an engineer in the PWD, was transferred from Nalgonda. We lived in the PWD quarters, where the kids who lived there became my friends. One such friend is Emmanuelle or Baba as we used to call him. Last week, after a gap of more than thirty five years I met him again. I was overwhelmed on seeing him again after such a long time. After my father was transferred again a few years later to Khammam, I lost touch with my friends in Nizamabad. He told me he had read the post on my blog about my trip to Nizamabad and got in touch with me. He told me he lived in Hyderabad and finally last week we arranged to meet.
So when I saw Baba I felt as happy as I was when I was with him when we played together. We shared information about other friends in our gang. I was moved when Baba told me that he had sent the picture of getting the award from the CM that I had posted, to Dicky, another friend in our gang. We caught up on the old times, about our parents, the rest of our families. I was glad to know that he too was working for the Government and was quite content with life. We had met in the Garden cafe near Clock Tower and talked for about an hour. It was a short meet but something that brought out deep memories. We planned to keep in touch and meet again.
GIVING A TALK AT A PREMIER INSTITUTION
Of late I’ve been addressing too many training sessions, to officers of the State Government and also to NGOs that are restricted to about thirty trainees at the most. Earlier I had given talks to around two hundred farmers in my posting at Suryapet. Though it sounds quite scary talking to such gatherings I have somehow managed to get through by talking about disaster management (which is a dry subject) peppered with interesting trivia and anecdotes which were, I was told recently, received quite well.
Last week I was told to address a gathering at NRSC on disaster management in the State and other issues which naturally made me quite nervous. I was given fifteen minutes to speak and two days to prepare. There was no way to wriggle out of it since they had already printed my name in the schedule. On the appointed day I reached NRSC and sat in the auditorium to listen to other speakers in a different session. The gathering was from all over the country and naturally, quite large. My session was after lunch and when it was my turn I gave my talk without falling off the stage as can be seen here. www.livestream.nrsc.gov.in/session5.html
I was surprised when the organisers gave me a Memento ,a glass plaque that can only be put on display.
AT THE HLF
After a couple of years of lurking on the outskirts like Taramati Baradari in 2012 and MANUU in 2013, HLF is back in the city, in a place which is more fashionable than literary. One would have thought that with such an event being held in their backyard the crème-de-crème of Jubilee Hills/Banjara would make a beeline to show off their literary pretensions but I was disappointed. If the HLF were to be held at one of the glitzier hotesl like the Grand Kakatiya or the Park Sheraton almost the entire JH/BH crowd or at least all those who turn up in their best at launches in such hotels, would have come in droves elbowing out the others. Aashiaana is no Park Sheraton so only the true literati of the JH/BH made it to a couple of high profile events.
I had planned to attend all the HLF on all the three days I missed the first day. I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it to Hari session with Vamsi Juluri on Films and Fiction. However, I applied for leave on Saturday and landed there at Aashiiana just in time for Rajmohan Gandhi’s talk. Of all the events I attended on the two days this session had the largest crowd. Later I sat in other events where the attendance was very thin. Luckily I got to hear TM Krishna sing and also express his radical views on Carnatic music. I was also glad that I could listen to three poets- Sridala Swami, Mani Rao and Srilata K- read out some of their poems. But I wonder why there were no male poets.
I missed the morning’s sessions on Sunday because I had to go to Abids to look for books with my friends. In the afternoon I was back at the HLF and sat in a couple of sessions. Somehow I felt that in all the sessions there did not seem to be any connection with the audience. It appeared like the panelists were only talking among themselves. But we Hyderabadis are also to blame because we simply listen and don’t much encourage the writers on the panel either with applause or with intelligent questions.
Friday, January 31, 2014
A Pleasant Surprise
Sometime in November I had come across a copy of ‘Dakshin- Vegetarian Cuisine from South India’ by Chandra Padmanabhan. I have been harbouring dreams of learning to cook and got into the habit of picking up almost every recipe book I saw at Abids. So when I saw ‘Dakshin’ I picked it up not that I planned to cook something from it but because the cover was good and it looked like a book to have on the shelf. In the Monday’s (27-01-2014) issue of Metro Plus I was pleasantly surprised to find this book mentioned in an article on cook book writers and their books by Shonali Muthalaly. There was a picture of the author of the book- Chandra Padmanabhan who looked like she was capable of cooking any vegetarian dish under the sun. It was interesting to read how this book got published. The article is here:
Here’s something Dirk Bogarde wrote about bookshops in his article ‘My Favourite Bookshop’ that is in his book ‘For the Time Being’ which is a collection of his numerous articles, book reviews and other pieces he has written for various publication. It is a wonderful book and I am glad I had the sense to buy it when I came across it.
‘A bookshop should be a familiar place, somewhere one goes for the sheer love of books, for the smell and the feel of them, for the companionship of others who share the joy of touching, holding, reading and learning. In the supermarket booksellers with their dizzying displays, their pyramids of bestsellers, one is intimidated, constantly lost in the wealth of glittering titles, bemused by a request answered by a computer which indicates the number of copies held of the title one has asked for, the price, position on the shelf, shelf position in the shop. Tills ring, green lights flash, and buying a book becomes as simple and as uninvolving as buying a packet of envelopes.’
Every word is true.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Then, on Sunday the first book I found was another Maugham title- ‘Ashenden’- that I do not have. I have come across copies of this book but none were in good condition so I passed them. The copy I found on Sunday with a seller in Chikkadpally was in good condition and since it was coming cheap I bought it.
Friday, January 10, 2014
The list of titles on travel and travelogues on my bookshelf is pretty impressive. Over the years I have managed to fill the bookshelf with some good titles that will cause envy in others who do not have these books. Some of the books I have are:
WG Sebald ( The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz ), Wilfred Thesiger ( Arabian Sands )Ryszard Kapuscinski ( Another Day of Life, The Shadow of the Sun, Travels with Herodotus, Emperor, The Shah of Shahs ) Freya Stark ( The Southern Gates of Arabia ) Jan Morris ( Sydney, Travels ) Graham Greene ( Journey Without Maps ) Somerset Maugham ( On a Chinese Screen, The Gentleman in the Parlour ) George Orwell ( Burmese Days, Down and Out in Paris and London ) Ernest Hemingway (Green Hills of Africa, The Dangerous Summer ) Saul Bellow ( To Jerusalem and Back ) Edward Abbey ( Desert Solitaire ) Paul Theroux ( The Old Patagonian Express, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Happy Isles of Oceania, To the Ends of the Earth, The Great Railway Bazaar, Kingdom by the Sea ) Pico Iyer ( Video Nights in Kathmandu, Falling of the Map, Sun After Dark ) Bruce Chatwin ( Utz, The Viceroy of Ouidah, What am I Doing Here?, In Patagonia, Songlines ) Colin Thubron ( Behind the Wall ) Eric Newby ( A Short Walk in the Hindukush ) V.S. Naipaul ( Finding the Centre, The Middle Passage, The Overcrowded Barracoon ) Laurens van der Post ( Venture to the Interior )
My favourite writer, Dave Barry, too has a travel book- Dave Barry Does Japan that is absolutely hilarious. I have built this enviable collection over a long period after some painstaking searches that led to some happy finds in places like Bengaluru, Delhi but mostly at Abids in Hyderabad.
Of course, there are many titles that I am looking for desperately like Paul Theroux’s ‘Pillars of Hercules’ ‘Vertigo’ by WG Sebald and other impossible to find titles that are too many to list here. I had read about RL Stevenson’s ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and a couple of years ago had also come across a copy in a very bad condition with termite holes, and a broken spine that I did not buy.
Last Sunday at Abids, I came across another good copy of the book whose title is actually ‘Travels With My Donkey in the Evennes’ by RL Stevenson. Small in size and hardbound it looked like it was the earliest edition. From the looks of it inside it appeared to be a library copy that I got for only forty rupees. I want to read this travel classic sometime in the coming Sankranti holidays.