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 26, 2016
Friday, August 05, 2016
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
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.
Friday, July 22, 2016
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.
Sunday, July 17, 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.
Friday, July 08, 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
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.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
As the month of Ramzan has already begun the shopkeepers in Hyderabad keep their shops open on Sundays also. Abids is no exception and since the stores selling shoes, dresses, etc that abound in Abids were open the second hand booksellers who occupy the pavements before this shops shift to other places. Not finding the regular booksellers at their usual places causes some sense of dislocation. Despite this dislocation I had the usual haul netting two books last Sunday at Abids.
Friday, June 17, 2016
It’s been almost two weeks since the monsoon season has begun but the rains have yet to fall. Since there has been a drought here for the past two years I really wish it would rain heavily and regularly but not on Sunday, please. For some reason I do not like it when it rains. The cloudy weather and the wetness that the rains come with brings on a gloom in my life that lifts only when the sun comes out. Since it hasn’t yet started to rain I am normal and yet to be engulfed by the rain-induced gloom that brings back painful memories. Last Sunday it was quite sunny when I started for Abids to hunt for books on the pavements there.
The last find was a title by Ross Macdonald that I spotted with another seller in a heap of books selling three for a hundred rupees. The title I found was ‘MEET ME AT THE MORGUE’ and I was excited at finding another Ross Macdonald title to add to my collection of his books. But I was disappointed when I saw that it was not a Lew Archer novel. I bought it nevertheless because Ross MacDonald is the kind of writer you wouldn’t want to miss reading.
Friday, June 10, 2016
Sometimes being deprived of something one is addicted to has a brighter side to it. Among other things one learns to savor what one is deprived of. Last Sunday visiting Abids after a two-week gap I realized the eye had become keener and the hunger to find good titles is a bit sharper. I ended up finding seven good titles at Abids last Sunday that washed away any remnants of resentment I had over not being able to go to Abids and look for books on the pavements.