The day after the reading, I've agreed to meet Jeet at Koshy's. Some of us had met there the evening before for the after-reading drink, but Koshy's is the kind of place you can hang out at every day, sometimes more than once a day (as happens frequently when I'm in Bangalore).
Sitting at Koshy's is a strange experience. Whichever way you turn, you get the feeling you're in a different place, as if the architecture of the place alters subtly with each view. At night it fills with cigarette smoke, and looks like something out of an old Hollywood movie; in the morning it is part old-fashioned club - with occassional glimpses of the cooks through the door leading to the kitchens; part Udipi joint, with the men at the next table having a hurried bun and chai; part upmarket Irani, with a couple at the table in front doing the whole bacon-eggs-grilled tomatoes-toast-coffee-in-pot and cigs between every fifth mouthful thing (Wait. Was this a Sunday? No...it's a Friday. What do these guys do anyway. No, wait. This is Koshy's. No one asks these questions here.)
I have a book coupon for 500 bucks, to be used at Premier Book Store, as a prize I won for some writing thing. JJ, who had duly handed me the coupon the previous evening after the reading, is at Koshy's (again) but this doesn't surprise me: I've only ever seen him at Koshy's (when he's not at my readings!), looking as unchangeable and serene as a portrait.
But the coupon. After all my vows and oaths about not going to bookshops while in Banaglore, I find myself in a position where I have to. And I odn't have to worry about ruining my precarious bank balance in the process.
At some point during the previous evening, Jeet had told me about a copy of Brodsky's Collected Poems that he'd found at a book store (not Premier) where it was on sale. And because, by a piece of mathematical sleight of hand I'm particularly proud of, I considered myself richer by Rs. 500, I ask Jeet to lead me to the Brodsky.
So, this is what happens. We walk to Sankar's, pick up the Brodsky for Rs. 375 (can you believe it?!), walk to Premier, which Jeet assures me has a pathetic collection of poetry, and I find (and buy) Scandalize my Name by Yusef Komunyakaa and Hello: A Journal by Robert Creeley.
That still left me a little money to buy my son (who was with me through every minute of this trip and behaved angelically), The Adventures of Timpa: The Red-Hooded Gang. Had any of you even heard of Timpa? I hadn't!
So, wondering only how I was going to fit everything into my already bursting suitcase, we got dropped off at my friend's place, with that retail-therapy glow I've heard so much about.
Coming up next: The reading!