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Posts Tagged ‘Books’

CBF-2011

So I fulfilled my first resolution of the New Year. Ok, I did it only because I wanted to do it very badly, but still just saying. Unlike last year when I ‘saw’ the Chennai Book Fair (henceforth very creatively referred to as CBF) from a moving vehicle almost one kilometer away from the entrance, because that’s how the long the entry queues were, I ‘went’ to CBF this time. Yes! Now CBF is something that I fantasize about for a full year, and then finally don’t make it when it’s on and remain disappointed for the rest of the year. Rows and rows of books stacked high, the smell of freshly printed paper, the haphazard wandering about in narrow corridors, drinking tea off small paper cups while fingering through newly bought books, the sweet corn and pani puri stalls, ok almost everything about the fair gives me a high just thinking about it. Having spent the entire last year sulking about not being able to go, I promptly made it this time armed with loads of reccos, not-so-much of cash, a ‘carrier’ who I’ll need in case I buy LOTS of books (carrier = P, of course) and a mighty bad cold.

I had managed to snoop around the CBF venue several times during the week and my first impression  was ‘Wow, they are majorly e-ottifying(which in case you don’t know, is the highly entertaining and productive occupation of shooing away flies and mosquitoes with bare hands, without the aid of advanced technology like the kosu-bat)this year!’. There was absolutely no crowd at the Fair during weekdays but I went on a holiday expecting sparse crowds perhaps, but Chennai had other plans. Half an hour after opening time, the place was packed and parking was already becoming a pain in unmentionable places. After managing to park in a weed-filled ditch and buying entrance tickets, rushed off inside the venue and whoa, it was as big as ever! And a LOT better organized as well. There were six or seven long neat columns dotted with separate shops for individual publishers/booksellers on either side. The place was well lit and the most useful feature was the presence of these huge hoardings right at the entrance to the columns listing out the shop names and numbers that are present there. Very nice touch! I remember this being there earlier also but it was a bit haphazardly done but this time it was done well. Thanks to these hoardings I didn’t have to navigate through the entire 600 plus shops to buy my books. I could just look at the board and check for the publishers who I want to visit and directly land there. Ka-ching!

This time I had gone to CBF with my mind fixed exclusively on Thamizh books because in Tamil Nadu’s capital city Singaara Chennai, hot-shot posh bookshops find it humiliating to stock up on thamizh literature except for absolutely indispensable treasures like ’60 வகை அசைவ சமையல்’ and ’30 நாட்களில் மலையாளம் கற்பது எப்படி’. So when you find separate rows for Twilight series and Chicken soup for the Agony aunt’s soul(ok, kidding), you hardly find a single shelf allocated for Thamizh books in Landmark or Odyssey. So CBF is the only time/place to stock up on regional reading unless you are superhuman enough to know how to order books from obscure publishing houses in Madurai or Kanyakumari. So I had my mental list all ready and scanned the hoardings for Uyirmai, Kaalachuvadu, Vijaya Padhipagam and other thamizh publishers and headed straight to these stalls. I did look around a bit here and there but amidst one stall of serious thamizh literature, I found fifteen others selling Panchatantra stories and self-help trash. And, as always these stalls were the most popular, being thronged by screaming kids and house wives looking to reach their man’s heart through the most obvious route – the stomach. Nice ambience actually if you don’t mind the pushing/jostling and high decibel levels.

Among the Thamizh publishers, Uyirmai attracted the largest crowds. I was even a bit surprised to see that there was hardly any standing space inside the Uyirmai stall with people jostling with full enthu and trying to grab books vigorously from shelves. And these people weren’t even the ‘Come-here-and-I-will-give-you-a-long-lecture-on-Sangam-literature’ jolna pai-soda butti wearing intellectual old types. They were all men and women, sorry, ONLY men of my age group, all under 30 and all looking very interested in S.Ra and Je Mo as much as they would be in Mc Donald’s burgers and evenings at some pub. In fact, it was such a relief to be at the Uyirmai stall after escaping the screeching kids and their screaming mothers in the other stalls. My only gripe at the stall was that I was the ONLY girl there and I couldn’t really hustle and jostle with hundred other men to lay my hands on the books. Now this is where the ‘Carrier’ comes into picture. Given his total distaste for books and reading of any kind except the technical, knowledge enhancing variety (yes, I live full time with a creature that you-tubes ‘brush gear assembly welding’ videos for ‘fun’ and orders Advanced mechanical technology from Amazon. Build me a temple 😐 ), P was being extremely nice and considerate, deftly catching and carrying all those books I threw him while being sandwiched between Guy-wanting-Sujatha-book and Guy-wanting-Jeyamohan book. He even gave me occasional suggestions like pointing out towards Sujatha’s introduction to Silapadhigaaram and saying ‘hey, that looks like something you may want to read!’ (Though his face looked totally distorted like the book was a slime ball worm and it was something I might want to eat and not read). I was happy he at least knew it was something I might want to read. And after frantic hurling of about 20 books into his now-buckling-under-pressure arms, I finally looked a bit apologetic about such a crazy haul, he magnanimously smiled and said, ‘Oh, no problem, buy as many as you want. Stock up.’ Of course, my eyes were beginning to widen like a tea saucer so he added, ‘As long as YOU pay for them.’ Being reminded about having to pay for them was my cue and I almost ran out of the stall to stop myself from looking or touching another book only to find myself in a serpentine queue at billing. Now wait, what was that? The cashier was totaling up values on his calculator and writing out a hand bill! Hello Uyirmai, pliss to be introduced to computers and databases! As the guy was furiously scratching ineligible book names on the bill and totaling up values (as fast as he was), a couple of people even dropped out of the queue, leaving their books behind. What a way to lose precious customers, especially when you are already running losses and a huge book fair like this would be a very important opportunity to raise revenues. Uyirmai please get electronic billing and ERP next year. Trust me, it’s not all that expensive. These things come as cheap as mobile phones these days and are an investment for any self respecting business venture.

I didn’t find any major cons at CBF this time. Maybe they could have had a couple of volunteers to guide people to issued pamphlets with stall locations because when the place gets crowded, it’s not feasible for a lot of people to stand near the entrance hoardings and search for the stalls they want to visit.

So there, after two hours of blissful book shopping, left the place to spend the rest of the Sunday smelling the books, reading blurbs and writing my name on all of them. After ages, a holiday well spent!

 

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Cobweb Clearing!

Ok I’m not dead. Dusting off the cobwebs once again like I’ve done many a times before. I wanted to be back with a bang, with some meaningful writing, a story perhaps, but no meaningful writing seems to be coming to me any time in the near future. So I’m back to the kind of writing that requires no meaning or thinking whatsoever. Rambling.

In the past few weeks,

Was admitted into a hospital after a long time. Actually, a very long time. So long that now I don’t even remember being admitted in a hospital before. Not even a vague memory. Amma tells me often that as a child I was admitted into a hospital once at a very critical stage and after 3 days there, I pointed to my tummy and made hand signs asking for food. She says she feels like crying every time she even thinks about that incident. But I have absolutely no memories of this supposedly ‘emotional’ moment and getting to stay in a hospital now was a very exciting and new experience. I actually liked being there for a lot of reasons. For starters, everyone was doting on me like never before. All that extreme paasam made me feel like the thangachi in thangachi paasam movies. People only didn’t stand around me in a circle and sing ‘Azhagaana chinna devadhai’ while patting my head and pinching my cheeks affectionately. Everything else was done. Relatives came visiting every evening in hordes and we had to get chairs from the reception to accommodate everyone. P who usually doesn’t lift a finger at home stayed with me during the nights and was running around with water basins and medicine prescriptions. Dad had become my competitor for the hospital bed by the end of the second day and had to take medicines as well. In fact I wasn’t even dying or had some six-months-to-die kind of sickness. Just the good ol’ routine typhoid which has already struck me some four times and something the entire family is very nonchalant about.  Now I may talk cheeky but I didn’t hate it one bit when it was all happening. I was basking as much as possible under all the hospital light glory. Go away typhoid and stay away, any other sickness! It isn’t time for me to play harps in heaven already. Too many people love me here.

Watched two movies, one of which should go into history as among the best made in the country and the other should never have been made. 40 crores, Mexico, superhero, kokarako dance, pichumani, shriya… there was no end in sight to the miseries that Kanthasamy unleashed on me. I walked into the cinema hall, a full 40 minutes after the movie started wondering if it was really worthwhile going to watch a movie after missing out so much of it. I usually get the kick of having watched a film only if I watch it from the opening credits to the vanakkam at the end. But after the Kanthasamy ordeal I thanked God Almighty and Chennai traffic for having made me miss out on most of the first half. At the end of it, I was left gaping at the screen with a lot of how-could-they questions and a WTH feeling. How I wish they had made a true Superhero film minus all that fake masala! Sigh! And then there was the other one.  Kaminey. What a fantabulous movie! A true blue gangster caper that is raw, edgy, intelligent, dramatic and funny all at once. Jaw dropping screenplay, on-the-streets cinematography, mind blowing music, brilliant is the word. Ok, I’ve run out of adjectives. Vishal Bhardwaj is a rarity in the world of Indian cinema that has come to become melodrama, mindless action and songs in foreign locations. A truly well made movie pulls you into its web. It makes you relate to its characters, laugh with them, cry with them and run with them. That’s what Kaminey made me do. I’m not against the slow paced arty kind of films but give me a completely commercial but rocking Kaminey over them any day. I hate feel good happy endings but this one time I was left praying that neither Guddu nor Charlie (for all his ultra grey shades) should die. And Kanthasamy, well it made me long for the superhero to die or atleast get caught as soon as possible. Mudiyala da samy!

Caught up with a lot of pending reading. The other day I was at Odyssey when I came across a book titled ‘The 50 most influential books in the world’ It seemed to span all genres from fiction to nonfiction to history to science. Bible was on it and so was The theory of Relativity by Einstein. What caught my eye was The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. Having seen this book on almost all ‘best books list’, I decided to find out just what was so influential about it, only to realise after reading that I was now too old to be influenced by it. The book is a slice out of a teenager’s life, how he gets chucked out of a fancy prep school, what he does enroute to going home after being dismissed, his face offs with people whose kinds he isn’t accustomed to coming across in life so far, his love for his sister, and the inherent child inside every human being irrespective of age. Teenage is that period in life when you are so vulnerable but put up a brave front to hide and mask all the bewilderment. From that point of view, this book is a teenager’s bible and it’s written in an abstract disjointed way, much like Holden Caulfield, our teenager in question is actually sitting across the table from you and having a conversation. But at the end of it, I was left wondering, ‘Now how does this INFLUENCE people in any way’. Then the ever nagging inner voice said, ‘Girl, it doesn’t influence people your age. You are way too old for this. Should have read it 6 years back. Too bad you were busy being influenced by Ayn Rand back then’ So there, Catcher in the Rye was another reminder that I was getting too old – for even some serious teenage literature.

Now I’ve reached this stage where to even ramble any more I have to start thinking, which I’m not really inclined to do (unless forced, as always). So I’ll stop here and get back when I really have something to say. Might take real long, who knows!

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