On Hyderabad, Jilebis and second-hand book stores

It was Friday evening. I was wondering what I would be doing this weekend. Forget about the weekend. What should I do this evening? Couch in that easy chair in my Madhpur apartment and savour the last of Richard Bach’s The Bridge across forever. No, that’s what I have been doing almost everyday. I wanted more life. The only life I have been seeing these days consisted of my room mates and my office buddies. I was missing the watching-the-crowd-go-by-in-the-safety-of-a-window-seat-of-a-rickety-bus. I had done this innumerable times during my college days. So when I saw this bus called 127F plying between Kondapur and Koti as I was going back to my apartment from my office, I thought why shouldn’t I go for a merry ride in this bus. Koti, I was told by people was the vintage Hyderabad complete with the towering minarets of the mosques, vendors hawking handkerchiefs at the top of their voices, and road-side stalls selling anything from pav bhaji to biryani. And there is one more thing about Koti which immediately raises my fancy. It has the famous chain of second-hand book stores.
So as usual my fancier self won hands down and I did get into that rickety bus. It is a little exaggeration to call whatever I was traveling in as a bus. It is a sort of van designed ergonomically to cram as many people as possible. And luckily I got a window seat. Soon I was doing the watching-the-crowd-go-by-in-the-safety-of-a-window-seat-of-a-rickety-bus thing. The engine came to one sighing stop at Koti. As I got down the bus, I was looking for signs of the charming second-hand bookstores. There were lots of bookstores. But these were of a different kind. Tomes promising passers-by that they can crack the CAT, GRE, GMAT, Civil services, Army, Air force and what not. And these books in addition to their bold titles have their shopkeepers to market themselves. The shop keeper literally drags you to their shops had you dared to look at one of their books. Where is my R.K.Narayan, Sydney Sheldon, Louis L’Armour. ….
Soon I found the shops which sell fiction. The pleasure of selecting the books is all mine now. There is something truely romantic about reading a well-thumbed book. But selecting the book in that dinghy corner store is not that romantic at all. Second-hand book stores for all their charm cannot match the comfort of Landmark or Crosswords. I bought the following books:
1) Saint Him
2) The clan of something
3) The depths of glory
I had a light dinner in a decent hotel and found my way back to my apartment where Richard Bach awaited me patiently. I did the book the justice it deserved.

1 Comment so far

  1. Candadai Tirumalai (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

    Your comments brought aspects of Hyderabad back to me. Although I was there for a visit 3 years ago, I have not lived in Secunderabad since 1960, but it was my home for more than two decades. I remember the second-hand bookstores too, where I bought textbooks as well as books outside or supplementary to the curriculum, and where I sold some of my books reluctantly when I needed some cash. The road from Nizam’s College, now walled in like a fortress (it was not so formidable in my day) to the Residency, where the Women’s College used to be (and perhaps still is), is firmly imprinted on my memory. It is far more packed now than in my time. Best wishes.

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