Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Those days - My love affair with books

My love affair with books started, thanks to my mother and cousin brother. I remember days when I used to go to the annual Chennai book fair with my mother. Oh, how crowded those stalls used to be and how many stalls! It was my cousin brother who introduced me to the world of Famous Five. Julian, Dick, Timothy, George and Anna, if I remember the characters right. It was as if someone pulled the curtains aside to reveal a whole new world, a world much more colourful and adventurous, when compared to the small town life I was leading.

I am unable to recollect when I started reading serious fiction. It was probably not until the first year of my college education. I used to commute from Maraimalainagar to Chrompet, a distance of ~22 kilometres by Chennai's local trains and my favourite pastime during those everyday journeys used to be books. Thanks to my membership at the British Council library in Chennai, I got access to a wide plethora of authors.

Even a break of 3 or 4 hours between classes and I used to catch a bus and head to the library in Mount road. Patiently I used to browse the collection there. There must have been 2 to 3 racks dedicated to works of fiction but what a treasure trove it was. After an hour or so of intense browsing and weighing of options, I used to pick up the one or two books I was eligible to take as part of the membership and then the love affair would start.

F Dostoevsky, Jose Saramago, Iris Murdoch, Christopher Isherwood, Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, JM Coetzee, Amit Choudhri, Somerset Maugham, J Krishnamurti, Isabel Allende, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Pat Barker, Helen Dunmore, Amartya Sen, David Davidhar, Kazuo Ishiguro, Khushwant Singh and Orhan Pamuk - Each of these authors, I got introduced to only through that wonderful library. Then there was this set of two or three Orkut friends who I connected with and I started reading the books they talked about and recommended. I remember a phase of classics, a phase of second world war based novels and a phase of novels based on stories set in conflict ridden zones.

As I read, I started maintaining a diary. My own private journal in which I used to jot down the extracts I loved most. Now, am in my second diary but I have sadly become less disciplined. Nowadays, even if I like something I read, I am too lazy to open that diary, take a pen and jot it down. Perhaps, I should not be!

Thanks to an acquaintance I got connected to today, I felt the necessity to put this down. Perhaps, it was long due.


Shibani said...

Books are the best companions!!
You delve into one, its very hard to come out.. till you finish it.
You have to visit the Anna Centenary Library! OMG. So many books, and you don't know which one to pick up! Heaven! Spent 8 hours on an off-day at the library to read and finish a book!

Shiva said...

@Shibani, Cannot agree more with you.

I have not visited the Anna centenary library. I shall definitely do.

8 hours, now I can easily imagine why you say books are the best companions...