Tuesday, September 18, 2007


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.


??! said...

the Fountain book guys are back?? yay!...oh wait, you aren't just talking of the ones by the American Express corner are you? what about the ones on the pavements going towards Churchgate?

and when did Smoker's Corner shut down? Can remember it being there for a decade-and-a-half atleast.

Space Bar said...

??!: Unfortunately, I am talking about the guys at the AmEx corner. Sigh, no?

Well, it seemed to have disappeared for a bit some time in the 90's. But then, it just chnged hands and this fellow took over, with really crappy books.

??! said...

Those Amex guys have some semi-decent stuff. There are also a whole line of them along the HSBC pavement going towards Rhythm House.

SC - mostly crappy. but loads of Pratchetts at one stage, and still the occasional gem.

John said...

Hi Sridala,

It's nice to discover your blog serendipitously. So you been around town buying up all the books and traumatizing the bookwallahs!



Read this post on mine. (It's not about what happened at the reading but the next day.) I am still in the process of uploading photos and will add a word there also.

Was nice meeting you at last!


Space Bar said...

john: 'serendipitously'? like how?! nice to see you here, though. had no idea that you also came in from new bombay...wow. thank you!

Cheshire Cat said...

It's bad enough that you have this book disease; you also need to spread it through this blog? I covet the Atwood now - children's books by adult fiction authors is one of my favorite genres. My favorites are Thackeray's "The Rose and the Ring", Stein's "The World is Round" and Baker's "The Everlasting Story of Nory", and I really really need to get Barthelme's "The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine"...

Space Bar said...

Cat: trust you to make life just that tiny bit more difficult! of all the other books you name I've only read The Rose and the Ring (and what a lovely, nasty one it is too!) and heard of The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine.

At least I'm spreading the disease. Hope it's viral.

Cheshire Cat said...

Only a "tiny bit"? OK, there's also McEwan's "The Daydreamer", Roubaud's "Princess Hoppy and the Tale of Labrador", Adair's "Alice through the Needle's Eye", Peake's "Letters from a Lost Uncle", Tolkien's "Mr.Bliss" and Huxley's "The Crows of Pearblossom" :) I must confess I haven't read the last two, having been mercifully out of pocket when the opportunity arose.

Most such books are not only more enjoyable but also more meaningful than adult books by the same authors. I fail to understand why the dreary "Atonement" has received so much critical praise, or why anyone would prefer "Midnight's Children" to "Haroun and the Sea of Stories".

Falstaff said...

cat: Stop. Stop now.

??! said...

yes, really. this is complex-generating, and hair-demolishing.

Space Bar said...

ok hang ok. i find mcewan's daydreamer completely unbearable. no, really. it's so fucking white uppter middle class privileged gender-stereotyped, i feel like throwing up. really. there's a minor rant abotu it elsewhere on my blog - i think in the one-is-not-born-one-becomes-a-woman post.

km said...

Umm...just buy a bigger bookshelf. Or a bigger house. God knows this disease has no cure.

Akshat said...

this was lovely! :)

Cheshire Cat said...

Space Bar, actually I don't care much for "The Daydreamer" either, but it belonged in the list. It's nice to see you rant about something; doesn't happen often enough :)

dipali said...

Fellow sufferer! Need to keep away from bookshops. Haven't read any of the children's books you mentioned-(apart from Haroun, that is)I guess that means that my kids are too old and so am I. I'll keep my eyes open at the library. Buying books is painful as there are never enough shelves to keep them properly(:.