Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Baahon mein chale aao....

“You know what Indians love more than discounts? Fighting for discounts.” – Heard on TV.

I love going to Crossword. Books are things of special attraction and so specious shelves with neatly arranged books with crisp-as-a-potato-chip covers are irresistible. These days, bookstores like crossword are usually housed in a mall. I may use any entry into the mall but I always come out of it from Crossword.

A bookstore is not as much about destination as it is about the journey. It’s a discovery tool. I run through the shelves, often twice or thrice soaking in the tantalizing visual appeal and guessing how things must be within the covers. It’s as if hundreds of gorgeous, glamorous temptresses are simultaneously vying for my attention. I look at some in passing, hold my gaze a moment longer at some, stare at some, caress a few in my hands and open a few to cast their spell on me even further. I play, I tease, I avoid, I lean, I listen-and regardless of what I choose to do, most of them are willing to go as further as I am willing to let them. I let myself be charmed and for someone who looks for ‘balance’ in most things, how I carry myself at a bookstore is an exception.

Today, as usual, I look around the shelves. I am not looking to buy anything. Then, I see ‘The Ascent of Money’ by Niall Ferguson. I’ve heard good things about it so I pick it up. My journey is still on and I move to the biographies section. There, in the second row is a title I’ve been waiting to arrive- ‘A Shot At history’ by Abhinav Bindra and Rohit Brijnath. Bull’s eye, the book’s taken! I’ve always felt that Crossword doesn’t keep too many non-english titles, not in Mumbai at least. As if to prove me wrong, I see a collection of Gulzarsaab’s 100 poems. In no time, the book moves from the shelves to my hands.

I am now holding three titles and I keep looking at the covers. One is a fine athlete’s story of excellence told by a master of his craft and then there’s this poetic wizardry of a legend. Choices are automatic. ‘The Ascent of Money’ will need to wait. As I put it back in its shelf, its neighbors give it a teasing ‘welcome back’ smile. I stand staring at the shelf. Jealousy is more seductive than attention, isn’t it?

I come out of the store with two books in my bag. How I will find the time to do justice to both of these is a question I am not worried about just yet. Just yet, I feel like I am carrying two worlds-of and by the people who are their own benchmarks. My world is richer!

Often, I think what a book does to you and what a bookstore does to you is quite the opposite. In a varied but focused existence, a book opens new worlds for you. In its varied and inviting existence, a bookstore opens a new you to the world!

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