I am running short of novels. I have collected very few books so far. Re-reading those gives me immense satisfaction. But nothing can beat the thrill that I get out of buying new titles and reading new stories/adventures.
When I face neatly displayed novels in a book shop, my first impulse is to buy all of those at one go. My only problem is that I am not Vijay Mallya or Mukesh Ambani. My favourite authors rarely help me out in this case. Their novels starts with a price range of Rs. 250-300. People save money to buy gold and pay home loans. I save money to buy fresh new titles in the market twice every month. The country is moaning about increase in the price rate of onions. I don’t care about onions that much. If its price increases further, I’ll stop buying it. Simple! Food can be made without onions and no one will be killed in the process. But I cannot survive without my novels. I suffer from a minor heart attack if I see Rs. 350 or above printed on the back cover of a novel. If it is above Rs. 400, somebody might have to call an ambulance.
Last weekend, armed with Rs. 500 in my purse, I entered sector-17 market of Chandigarh with my friends. This market is famous for catering to every customer’s demands. You can buy anything from here. After shopping, one can visit any food stall and indulge in street food. I only went because I heard that the area has many book shops as well. I don’t like to rely on online shopping. Once I had ordered a copy of Pride and Prejudice and it was delivered within a week. The book looked as if somebody had kept it in water and then dried it under the Sun. The font size was barely readable. I couldn’t read it at night. When I couldn’t read it properly and my eyes started protesting, at that time I decided to never open any website of online shopping ever again as long as I live.
As I stepped inside the first book shop on my way, I was startled at the largeness of the place. It didn’t look that big from outside. The reason became clear when I walked across the book shelves. It wasn’t just novels on display. There were technical books right from class 12th till post graduation level. Some books were kept on the floor. Some had dropped down and sprawled on the floor like those stray dogs that pedestrians rarely cared about. Some customers were finding it difficult to search the titles they wanted. They harassed the shopkeeper who went left and right in search of the correct titles.
It so happens that I get confused quickly when I see so many books in front of me. Which one to buy? That’s the most confusing part. I asked the shopkeeper if he had any new arrivals in his store. His impatient expression told me to help yourself. Me and my friends went ahead and started rummaging through different book shelves in front of us.
I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey. This book has been in news for quite some time. I looked at the price. It was costly.
“Don’t buy that book!” said my friend sharply.
Startled, I looked up from the title and turned towards her.
“What will people say if they see you reading this kind of book?” she said, looking at me with flaring nostrils.
Another friend came near and saw the title I had picked up.
“What is this book about?” She asked curiously.
“Nothing” we both uttered. I placed the novel back into the shelf.
My friend picked up Ravinder Singh’s novel Can Love Happen Twice? She started reading its synopsis.
Meanwhile my eyes fell on Shobhaa De’s novel titled Sethji. I had read its review previously somewhere where the reviewer had claimed that De is at her wicked best while writing this story. The price was Rs. 250. The story is based on politics though it’s a fiction. I became a bit hesitant. I had previously brought a copy of Battle for Bittora written by Anuja Chauhan and vowed to never read any more fictional stories about politics in India. The book was a heavy disappointment. My heart literally had broken on realizing that I had wasted Rs. 299 on a novel that was not worth reading.
I moved on to next. My friends found Hindi translation of Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi pretty hilarious. The Hindi title made us reflect back to some snake dance moves done by a hero in a Bollywood movie.
I went back to the main counter. A man sat there busy chatting on his mobile. He looked up when I thumped gently on the desk.
“If I tell you name of a novel, can you search in your laptop if it is there in the shop or not? I looked and couldn’t find it myself.”
“Sure” he said.
“Life and Promises” I said the title, standing on my toes to view his screen properly and praying to God to let me win this time atleast.
“Author?” he stopped his typing and looked up in irritation.
After 30 seconds of making me wait, he pronounced his judgment. The shop didn’t have that book.
My face must have shown my feelings. He added consolingly,
“Is it a new arrival? We don’t get their stock if it has just come into the market.”
I came out of the shop. My friends came out in next 15 seconds. They tried cheering me up. They said that they would try to get that book and present it to me on my upcoming birthday.
That did cheer me up. :)
From a second shop, finally I purchased a copy of P.S. I love you by Cecelia Ahern. It cost Rs. 250. I haven’t watched the movie yet. So I thought to give its book a read. I went through the title cover and read the synopsis. I read 4 pages of the novel while standing on my feet in the book shop. Finally I decided to take it back with me forever.
P.S. I love novels!
P.S. I love novels!