The Book Exchange


After years of internet addiction, I found myself doubting my ability to read a physical book. Is it possible to go back to reading a paper book – cover to cover?

Books On A Shelf
Books On A Shelf

Travelling by train, after many years, was, at once, both exciting, and disheartening. We were to be confined to the train for a total of 60 hours. No access to a computer, or the internet. It was a welcome break. But that meant I’d have to find something else to do… Perhaps read a book?

I stared at the long row of bookshelves – there were perhaps close to two hundred books. Comprehensive books on all aspects of business, a twenty four-volume set on crafts, course material on computer science, old and yellowing documentation on world history, several rather heavy books purchased through mail offers, essays on English literature, general knowledge, several abridged (poorly edited) children’s illustrated classics, and an assortment of books on health, spirituality, philosophy, and even palmistry!

Sandwiched in between these books, were some books I recognised. Some purchased, some gifted, and some inherited – all with a particular memory attached. The weathered ‘As You Like It’, which I had requested my parents to buy so that I could read it during the summer vacations. The ‘Little Women’ that my aunt had gifted me for my tenth birthday, with a handwritten note inside. The unabridged ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which I had already read thrice!

For the past several years, bringing books had been, unofficially, banned. But if I brought them temporarily, it wouldn’t hurt – much. So two days before our departure, I struck a deal with a friend of mine. We were going to have a book exchange!

On the staircase of a busy metro station, to the amusement of passengers, two girls sat, chatting – catching up on each other’s lives, pondering over some serious topics, and, at times, giggling uncontrollably. As the evening wore on, we decided to call it a day and presented our books to each other.

On the way back, I stared at the paper bag – six books. I hadn’t read a book – cover to cover – for several years. The only exception being textbooks. I began doubting myself. Would I be able to read through even one book, leave alone six? I picked one up and started reading the first paragraph. I felt uneasy. I couldn’t comprehend it. I read it again. I heard the train approaching the platform, and shut the book.

At home, I lined up the books, alongside the other things, I was to pack into the suitcase. There is something about a book, which has been read by a friend, which has a worn out cover, and whose pages are yellow. After pacing up and down a few times, I picked one up. Just a few pages…

A little while later, I looked up at the clock. It was well past dinner time. Everyone had finished eating, and the packing up, for the journey, had commenced.

Time had flown by, and just like that, I had given myself up to a fictitious world. My surroundings changed, I left reality behind. The repeated calls for dinner, had fallen on deaf ears. I was blissfully unaware of the mounting anxiety around the house, as everyone was packing up their suitcases. I just read.

I do not recall ever sitting and reading, without falling asleep. I had doubted my ability to read. And now, I was devouring a book like a ravenous beast.

Before I knew it, I’d finished three-quarters of the book, and nothing, but the realisation that there were only a few hours left for our departure, could part me from the book! I packed the books in, and couldn’t wait to finish reading my newly acquired books.

A Few Of My Favourite Things!


This photograph, reminds me of that beautiful song from “The Sound Of Music”. With all due respect to the original, here is my version:

Small rounded pebbles and sea – washed sea shells,
Colourful beads, all tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favourite things!

And the original lines:

When the dog bites, when the bee stings*
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Bead Box
Sea shells and Seeds,
Pebbles and Beads

 

Photograph edited by my good friend

* I have experienced both!

She grows, gathers and gives


In the capital of the North-Eastern Indian state of Manipur, thousands of women defy all odds, to keep the Ima Keithel from being devoured by modern markets. It is a symbol of the strength of the women who have fought for their rights, and are fiercely independent.

I came across this article in the morning newspaper, and wished to share it. I hope you enjoy!

The Hindu : Today's Paper / MISCELLANEOUS : She grows, gathers and gives.

Old Habits Die Hard!


A trip to Chennai is incomplete without a visit to the beach – and collecting sea shells! Here’s the latest addition to the ever growing collection – most are broken, but we still brought them home 🙂

Related Links:

These photographs were edited by my good friend
An Old Post – Somewhere Beyond The Sea

A Long Time Ago…


Once upon a time, little children made greeting cards using many things – the chief ingredient was, however, called paper. Many children enjoyed it, but some didn’t. So they employed adults to make them, or went to the marketplace.

Then one day, something called the ‘Internet’, entered the kingdom. It didn’t like what it saw, and started its quest to find an alternative. It made friends – lots of friends. It was knowledgeable, and paid regular visits to everyone. It became very popular, and eventually conquered the kingdom of ‘Human Race’.

Under the new rule, greeting cards lost favour with the peasants. Many children, adults, and trees were happy with this, and they all are trying to live happily ever after…

*  *  *

I was rummaging through a shelf, looking for a piece of cardboard. It was the bottommost shelf – home to a lifetime of scrap paper, greeting cards, fancy and colourful invitations.

Treasure
An Assortment Of Beautiful Paper

Since childhood, paper has fascinated me. That bottom shelf, is my treasure – the different colours, and textures, some glossy and many handmade. While most were addressed to us, there were a few which were given to me because I loved collecting them.

As children, we made our own cards, and gladly received those made by our friends. By the time we left school, the concept of anything hand-made, was all but dead. Even though I would have loved to make a card, I feared, that it would be misconstrued as a miserly act. So we occasionally bought cards.

With the advent of the internet, and increasing emphasis on saving trees, cards have become electronic. And why not – it saves trees, and a lot of space in our cupboard!

After finding what I was looking for, I began shoving everything back inside, when a few cards caught my eye. A beautiful batik card, which was mailed to us by relatives, and a hand-made card. Both beautiful in their own ways.

Handmade
A small portion of the handmade card

I unfolded the hand made one. In a world ruled by everything electronic, my friend had taken out the time to make something for me. It was the last hand-made card I received, and perhaps the one I will treasure the most…

Electrifying Encounter


The thrill of watching an international match at the court – perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime memory to treasure.

We were one of the first few to enter the court complex. We chose our seats right at the centre – where we felt we had the best view of all the courts. Soon, all the seats were taken. The event – Badminton quarter-finals at the Commonwealth Games.

With five action – packed matches being held simultaneously, it was difficult to keep pace with all the matches. We kept track of the progress of the national players, by paying attention to the crowd’s cheers. The ‘aaah’s and the ‘oooh’s indicated that the mixed doubles pair were struggling. The cheers and chants increased, as Chetan Anand and P Kashyap successfully wrapped up their matches.

And then, the entrance of Saina Nehwal, marked by a huge applause. The huge home support defeated her opponent even before the match began. She struggled to return the serves, and looked rather miserable. The crowd, anticipating a good contest, felt short-changed, as Saina won, in a mere 10 minutes!

The women’s doubles game was the last match of the session. And the full capacity crowd turned its attention towards the duel. The disappointment of the lop-sided match played earlier on the court was forgotten, as Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa took on the formidable Malaysians. The rallies were long, and each stroke was returned with interest. When we thought the smash was good, the opposition put it back in play. The entire crowd shouted ‘huh!’, in unison, providing extra effort for the home girls, as they smashed the shuttle mercilessly, only to find it being smashed in return.

The entire crowd was up on its feet, the energy of over four thousand spectators, creating a heady, adrenaline packed atmosphere. Ultimately, the game was won by the hosts, to the immense joy of the fans, who gave a standing ovation for the victorious underdogs.

Borrowing from a famous advertisement:

Transportation : Rs 50
Lunch : Rs 150
Cost of ticket : Rs 200
The thrill of watching Indians excel in a proper International sport : Priceless!


Saina Nehwal returned home with a bronze medal in the on-going Olympics, &
P Kashyap reached the quarter-finals – the furthest by an Indian in the men’s event.