Sunday, 26 May 2013

Confessions of a Bibliophile

“Okay fine, give me hundred and that’s it.  I don’t usually sell them for that low, but then you are my regular customer.”
“Yeah right”, I thought grimly. “Alright. Here, take it”, I gave up.  Both of us knew I would not leave without buying.
This was me talking to a book dealer.  He sells books by the road side, with piles of them spread out on a cot, and I often buy from him as I get them for nearly half the price of the pretty originals.  My feet refuse to budge when I reach the place.  Once I am rooted to the spot, I have no other choice than to let my hands pick up books so that I go through them.  The book dealer knows one, when he sees one; bibliophile.  

I have been reading books for as long as I can remember.  My mother had acquainted me to books ever since I was 3.  Of course, I could not read then.  But she used to narrate stories with those picture books for kids.  The story of three bears and Goldilocks, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Snow white and the seven dwarfs and so on.  She would sit me on her lap and narrate the story according to the pictures making me turn the pages.  I was so fond of them I would go through the pages again and again.  As I learnt reading it was time for Champak, Balamangala, Gokulam, Chandamama , Tinkle and various comics that came as a boon by Amar Chitra Katha (Thank you Uncle Pai!).  

By fifth grade, we were allowed to borrow books from the Junior Library of our school and that was when I was introduced to Enid Blyton.  She has created such a wonderful world of fantasy for children.  Her stories of imaginary creatures like pixies, gnomes and elves and their lives. It was fascinating.  Even her adventure books like Secret seven and Famous five have been my favourites.  She wrote several novels all for kids and the saddest irony of her life was that she hated kids and did not bond with her own grandchildren.  She was hardly close to her own daughter. 
My craze had reached its peak when Harry Potter had come to this world and the list of books since tends to infinity.  I got eager and desperate to find the books, borrowing from friends, exchanging, begging and pleading to the reluctant ones.

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library”, said Mr. can’t-remember-his-name, and he imagined right.  Whenever I go to a library or a books store my first feeling is euphoria.  Then I feel an irresistible urge to take away as many books as I can carry, and confusion about which one to pick first when there are so many you want, and no money to buy them all. Then from nowhere I get this idea of taking up a job as a librarian, or a sales girl in that book shop, so I can be with the books all the time and read them all one by one.  The thought is itself elating.

Books are the best friends you can get.  Having no siblings and both parents working, I find myself alone most of the time, and books have been my best companions, always.  Once my nose is buried in a book I am in a different world, oblivious to the world I physically exist in. 
Finding books is like meeting people, destiny.  Strange as it seems, books have a way of finding you.  As soon as you set your eyes on the first page, you build a connection with the book, a bond with the characters; you get attached to them, get into their minds, and feel their feelings.  You are curious to know what happens at the end, and at the same time, when you do reach the end, you feel sad, as if saying farewell to friends.  You miss the people of book-land.  Thoughts about the book linger for days after you have finished reading it.  You remember incidents from the book or some funny lines, and find yourself smiling all of a sudden, much to the horror of any onlooker.

Like any other relationship, there are ups and downs in relations with books.  Some make you very happy, some make you cry, some play hard to get, and some hard to let go, some teach you ethics, and change your life, some fail to entertain you like you thought they would and some can be very disappointing.  But it is reading-life teaching you lessons the hard way.  Eventually you learn not to judge a book by its cover, and it is what is inside that matters. 
Come what may, I will remain addicted, a chain reader.
“I am wondering what to read next”

Monday, 20 May 2013

Falooda of Friends

Who does not want friends? They form the part and parcel of our lives, and life without them would be, I don’t know, unimaginable.  Many of us love the popular American sitcom- “Friends”. The series revolves around a group of friends in Manhattan.  What is it that attracted us to it? Why did we get so fond of them?  I think it is because we see ourselves in them at some point.  We see our own friends in the characters they portray.  There is a funny Chandler or a crazy Phoebe or even a cleanliness freak Monica amongst our friends.  If not exactly the same, there is a likeness to some behavior they show and that is why we connect to these people.  There are different kinds of friends and different degrees of friendships.  You may say we are best friends, we are good friends or sometimes we are just friends.  They are those special people you met by chance which you can later on say, serendipity, and they touch your heart real deep, and before you know it they are among the most important people in your life.  They care for you and dote on you more than you could think was possible.

Some have chaddi-buddies, childhood friends. They may be your cousins, neighbors or family friends. They are your friends since you were little kids, say, when you still walked around in your underwear.  You went to school together, played together, grew up together and spent every possible time together.  They are the ones who know you inside out, understand you and love you for what you are.  They are the no-matter-what friends.  They are by your side in good times and bad, they are your confidants, they can influence you like no one can. Fight all you want, but they stick on to you all through your life.

You make friends at school, in college, at work and any place you spend time on a regular basis.  And you get variety of kinds.  But like the Airtel ad goes, “Har ek friend zaroori hota hai” (every friend is necessary/important).  There are friends with common interests.  I mean that is how you got to know them in the first place.  Then you meet friends of friends.  Here there are chances of you getting closer to them than the intermediate friend or they may remain as acquaintances whom you just greet whenever you happen to see them around you. 

There are also the “friends in need” who you don’t hang out much with, but on some rare occasion when you are in some desperate need and with no one you know by your side, and these people  appear like God sent them and save your day.
The next one I am talking about might sound weird but it's true.  Commuting friends:  The friends you make while you commute to work or college.   People using their own vehicles to commute do not have this privilege.  This happens when you go at fixed timings and take the same bus every day.  You see these people every day.  You empathize with each other when you miss the bus, or exchange change because the conductor yells at you if you don’t give him exact change, so you save each other the humiliation.  You even team up and comment on the grumpy conductor for your own satisfaction.
Talking about friends I don’t want to leave out man’s best friend – dog.  Why only dog? Any pet for that matter.  They are great friends, and not to mention cute and cuddly.  They love you unconditionally, play with you, cheer you up when you are down, and always keep you happy.  The best part being that they never hurt you.

There is another kind of friends which is, perhaps extinct now, the pen pals.  With Internet revolution, the art of letter writing is dying and so is the pen pal system, people writing letters to people from distant places.  The social networking sites have made the world smaller indeed, but not many write mails.  But, one can form communities on the social networking sites.  People with similar interests can get together and interact.
On one of those rough days you have, you need that one friend you want to simply be with, and wait till the phase passes. A mere hug, or pat on the hand makes you feel better, that you are not alone.  Any day, and everyday all you need are friends.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Ma,

This is your day,
A day in honor of you,
And on this day, I take
The chance to thank you.

You made me
Before I was myself
You sculpted me
As a sculptor yourself.

You're my life, you're my friend.
You're my God, on you I depend,
You're my light when it's dark,
When I want play, you are my fun park.

You're as sweet as honey,
And gentle as breeze
And the expanse of your love,
Vaster than all seas.

On this special day,
I want to let you know,
That day by day as I grow,
You mean to more and more.

I have told you before,
And I'll keep telling you,
From the depth of my heart's core,
That forever will I be loving you.

Have a Wonderful Day!
-Wonderful just like you