Monday, November 16, 2009

First-Love and One True Love-Books

This post is inspired by Kavi's post

I have always loved reading books. All kinds of books except my school-books:)

Some of my earliest memories of introduction to reading goes to the journey I made from Pune to Calcutta; when my father had quit one more job and sent me and my mom to my uncle. I guess it was a Chandamama that my mother bought and silenced me. I kept looking at the pictures and was awe-struck by Vikram and Betaal.

At Calcutta, I met my elder sister after a gap of three years. She took me, I was five years old I guess, in her arms and promptly placed a peck on my cheeks. I got lots of Indrajal and Amar Chitra Katha Comics and my sister would explain the stories.

At school there was Ronnie madam who took English class and it was a real treat to attend sing-along classes when rhymes and lessons were held.

I guess I was seven or eight; when I got my first Tintin comic-"The Blue Lotus" from my uncle. I guess that fateful day marked the ignition for my life-long passion for books. My uncle was separated from his wife and son; perhaps to make up for his paternal los, showered all his affection on me. Sundays would be spent in Camac Street, Mirza Ghalib Street, Gariahat and lots of other places where we would pore over old books. The biggest attraction was the Calcutta Book Fair at the Maidan. I guess the venue has changed now. Enid Blytons were staple diet, by the time I was eleven I had completed-Famous-Five, Five-Find-outers, The Secret Seven and the Adventure Series.

There was healthy competition between me and my younger uncle's daughter. She loved Nancy Drew and I was mad about Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. She had a massive book collection courtesy her uncle Mani mama who used to run a lending library when he was a teenager. As each new year dawned the seriousness of academic excellence dawned and everyone realised that I was an absolute misfit with Maths.

Classes six and seven were devoted to Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne and Alexandre de Dumas. Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers were my heroes.

By the time I reached Class-8 I had switched to Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer and Desmond Bagley. I was a man trapped in the body of a boy. I had matured as a reader and as well as a teen who had realised that his father was an absolute failure.

Fast-forward to 1998-May 1

I am at Central Station in Chennai with my mother, waiting for my father. A last chance for him to redeem himself as a husband and a father.

Chennai is a book-lover's paradise. My dad could never fathom what I wanted. My mother would give me a hundred rupees once in every two months as pocket-money. I would pain-stakingly save money and make trips to Triplicane and Moore Market to buy old novels.

June 2002

After scraping through high-school; I finally joined college-R.K.M. Vivekananda College. A course in English Literature and a whole vast new world of drama, fiction and poetry. Shakespeare and Francis Bacon were read for marks, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Tagore were read for pleasure.

Poetry for me was a fine balance between Robert Frost, William Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson. John Donne and co. with their metaphysics were beyond me.

June-2005 -The Professional

An essay on Dickens won me a place in the corporate world and I started my career as an Instructional Designer. Now I had the luxury of a zero-balance salary account. After paying my mother my salary, a small portion of my pay would go towards buying DVDs and books.

Current Scenario

Five jobs later in different companies and different roles, my career continues to hang on at the precipice of uncertainty as I am contemplating one more switch. I have discovered police-procedurals in the translated works of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo-the Inspector Martin Beck series. I have also enjoyed the Inspector Morse and Inspector Rebus books.

There is such a vast ocean out there and my room is already full of books. I have a huge list of books that I need to buy and read. My mother keeps warning me that my wife will come and throw away all my books. Well that is a veiled threat:)

An affair that never began and ended before it could start still hurts me.

But my passionate romance with books will continue till the very end.

Girl-friends may come,
Girl-friends may go,
A woman might actually end up being my wife
But my one true love shall be my books alone.


Aswin Kini said...

What a great post this is!!!! Cheers, buddy, I loved the ending para!!!!

"Girl-friends may come,
Girl-friends may go,
A woman might actually end up being my wife
But my one true love shall be my books alone.

Three cheers to you and your books. May your good work continue :)

mahesh said...

Hi Ashwin,

Thanks man!
A book will never ditch you.
A book will never ask-"How do I look"
A book will not ask for flattering comments on beauty and quality of cooking"

Now I am ranting.

Whatever may be the merits and demerits a life-partner can never replace a book!

Hope I find one soon and I also wish you luck to find one for yourself soon:)

Aswin Kini said...

"A good human being and a good book should never be judged by its cover".

So, don't rant my dear friend. You are special and that's why you stand out amongst the crowd.

Rashmi said...


I do agree books are indeed ur best friend they never judge the reader..
I am myself a ardent fan of books..
Nice Post :)


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