Monday when I headed into town to meet Jeroo, I also met Chandrahas. As he usually does, he suggested that I meet him at Crossword and then we would head to Strand.
I groaned. I mean, there's nothing I like better than looking at books, but the trouble is, if I look at them I want to own them. Like my mother with saris. Leaving her at an exhibition or Crafts Fair or Handloom thingy is the most dangerous thing you can do. Bank balances can become suddenly unstable. 'I'm broke, ok? I can't buy a single book,' I warned Hash. 'It's ok. I'm not going to buy anything either, he said.
Ha. (actually, he didn't. That sardonic laugh was myself. Best laid plans and all that).
See, I had to visit several kids later that evening and the following day. Kids need books to read. They have way too many toys. Browsing through the kiddie section at Strand, I found Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes by Margaret Atwood. I immediately coveted that book - it was so hilarious. And since I often use my son as an excuse for books I want to own, I hung on to it lest any of the marauding mothers nearby took a shine to it. After all, I've seen women in sari shops eyeing the one my mother has in her hands, and the second she puts it down, someone grabs hold of it. The trick is to grab and hang on, no matter how many other things you are carrying. And I was carrying my (black, please note, Falstaff) handbag, in addition to another one that had my camera, diary...but you get the picture.
So I grabbed and I hung on, though I regretfully intended to leave it behind. Luckily for my son, I found another copy of the same book. So, conscience clear, I bought both. One to gift, the other for my son.
Later, I discovered to my delight, that Smoker's Corner, an old Fort institution that had disappeared, had returned. With a morose and unhelpful owner who insisted on blocking with his rather bulky figure, every book you especially wanted to look at. There I picked up, almost despite myself, Roger McGough's Summer With Monika and John Yau's Corpse and Mirror. (They're okay. No big deal. Could have done without. But 20 bucks each.)
But the big one was the day I waited for Surabhi and Sanah at InOrbit. They were late, and the mall had a Crossword, and there was a sale. I went to the Poetry section, and before I could blink I had my arms full of Walcott, Don Paterson and Szymborska.
So it was that by the last day I was desperately broke. But, wandering around the Fountain pavement book shops, I found - and couldn't resist buying, I need hardly add - Richard Lannoy's The Speaking Tree. Oh, and the third book of The Dark Is Rising sequence, Greenwitch.
Sigh. Now you know why someone had to sit on my suitcase.
And if I disappear from my blog once again, you'll know it's because I'm either trying hard to earn some money, or because I'm staring at my bookshelves wondering what to displace so I can accomodate these new chaps.