My friend G who we last encountered while buying a top here, is moving. Well actually she’s just moving 2 blocks away, so it isn’t anything drastic, but to me it means lugging infinite number of boxes and trash bags full of stuff to her new house. “The new house is terrible, cobwebs and all” G said. Apparently, the harami landlady had refused to clean it before handing it over, but G, clever that she is managed to shave off 50$ on her first month’s rent as a compensation for cleaning it herself. Enter yours truly. So on a lazy Thursday afternoon, G and me, went to her new house which she hated. The house was nondescript enough like so many others, old and lived-in. One step into the house and my jaw dropped open. Where G saw cobwebs, untidiness and blasphemy; (she must worship Poirot secretly, I have concluded) I saw heaven.
Every square inch of the house was piled with books. Tottering towers of Enid Blytons, carelessly discarded boxes labeled Shelley, Hemmingway and Frost. A shelf on the farthest wall held bound volumes; Tolkien’s complete works including the history of middle earth. I was salivating. While G muttered and devised devious plans to fool her roommates and grab the prettiest room for herself, I quietly poked around.
Flying off a small tangent here I am a complete sucker for books. A dodo if you will. And the one thing I like apart from reading is browsing in bookshops. A thrill just in seeing books, reading the back-cover, leafing through pages lazily (a thrill compounded by the emptiness of my wallet). One of life’s greatest pleasures, this. Tucked away in a leafy by lane in the heart of Mumbai, The Strand had piles and piles of books. Books were squeezed into crevices and lay carelessly on every surface. Exactly my idea of a bookshop; unlike crossword which I find sterile and impersonal. One of my primary reasons for hating Mumbai is the dearth of books there, which kind of makes me want to live in Bangalore (Gangaram's) or Chennai (plenty of places, all on leafy lanes!), book paradises. Also some moronic politician conspired to remove the second hand book selling people off the pavements at Flora fountain, making my life much sadder, and thereby ensuring that I never vote for his party again (democracy rocks!).
The upper rooms held Christie and Doyle in a huge antique shelf. Another box possessed papers, essays of Bertrand Russell and Shaw. The closet held PG Wodehouse (I was in 7th heaven by then). G had resigned to de-cobwebbing the house herself, poor thing. Apparently I did not even turn a hair when she screamed on finding a large tarantula (supposedly). The icing on the never ending desert came when I found a bundle of National Geographic’s, in the attic; 1987 to 1995. I had a silly inane grin, which I just couldn’t wipe off. Santa does exist.
This week we are going to clean the basement. My excitement is unparalleled. I also wanted to explore the attic a little more peacefully. My life is like the parched desert, which finds a rainstorm in it. I shall resist the bad puns, and most of my other activities till G throws me out of her home. Till then Adios.