Friday, June 03, 2005

The Curse of the Babu

Let it be known that I HATE chain letters -- mainly because I am a total patsy and often find myself obeying commands in an utterly robotic fashion. This post owes everything to being "tagged" by Hurree Babu of Kitabkhana (if no link appears here, look in the column to the right of the main column). I've got to comply with commands that go entirely against my DNA, but there you are: the trials of being a social animal.

Here's what I've got to reveal:
Total Number of books I own: About 1500 I think. All but 50 are in cartons and effectively lost to the world, except that I have them entered into a Carton List made 6 years ago, at the time that I/we moved from Sunder Nagar to Friends Colony (where I currently live) and never unpacked. The fifty that are uncartoned have remained that way because we've run out of cartons and can't be bothered to buy new ones. If you're starting to think I/we live an unusually slovenly life, you have completely normal powers of perception, and are correct.

Last book I bought: Was actually ten copies of my most recent publication DOUBLE TALK, five copies of the one that appeared before it, last year, KLEPTOMANIA and three copies of Mishi Saran's CHASING THE MONK'S SHADOW -- bought as a favour for a friend, who gave me one of the copies as a gift, but being a lousy, ill-mannered friend myself, I have not read it yet. The multiple copies I bought of my books is what I find myself doing routinely: I give copies away because I have so many friends and relatives who believe they are owed a signed copy. *sigh* This is a terrible admission to make, because it means that at least a couple of friends who read this may feel they can rightly claim free books being card-carrying members of my friendship-ring ... but that's JUST TOO BAD, okay?? I have two sisters, a mother, two nieces and a nephew -- and they ALL WANT THEIR OWN SIGNED COPIES!! Is this not unfair? Not that they get 'em ... I have pared the list down to one-per-household, not including my nephew, who lives (inconveniently enough) in Bombay. On the other hand, I find that giving away one of my books is an excellent way of saying "thank you" for pretty much anything, as a result of which I have pretty much stopped buying any other kinds of gifts.

Last book I read: Make that "am currently reading": Ira Pande's DIDDI, a warm and well-observed biography of and compendium of stories by the author's mother, who was better known to the world of Hindi letters as "Shivani". If I say anything more about this book, I won't have the energy to review it (which is the reason I have a copy: I think it's only fair to say here that I hardly ever buy books any more except when I go to Madras, because I know I'm going to buy books there, from Giggles Bookshop, in the Connemara Hotel and since I always spend far too much money when I go there, I try to save on that extravagance by not buying books anywhere else)(besides which, I never go to bookshops any more, if I can help it. Instead I call up, ask about the book/s I want and send my Person Friday across to collect it, with a cheque. Add "terminally lazy" to slovenly).

Five books that mean a lot to me: Errrm ... unlike the Babu, I will attempt to stay within calling distance of that number "five" and say ... errrrm ... well ... there's a little pocket dictionary called A DICTIONARY OF DIFFICULT WORDS that I've kept by my side for about 20 years now. That's got to mean something. There's John Fowles' THE MAGUS that's pretty much the only book (other than children's books) I've read more than once (i.e., twice) -- oddly enough, I've never owned a copy. There's GĂ–DEL, ESCHER, BACH: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hoffstadter that's described on its back cover as "The best mental gym in town" -- and I'd agree -- except that I don't think I'd be able to read it now, having opted for Early Senility. *sigh* And then there's so many contenders that I'll just reach out and grab wildly -- THE SEA OF FERTILITY by Mishima and GORMENGHAST (the first two books; never got around to reading the third) by Mervyn Peake.

Tag five people: Okay, I'm not going to do this. Sorry, Babs -- I'm just badly behaved, incompetent and dull besides lazy, slovenly and senile.



uma said...

what a great post. i wanted to book-tag you too, then i saw that you had already memed! :)

Marginalien said...

Thnx, uma! Maybe I should thank the Babu instead of cursing him? It's a rare moment when I find myself at the wave-front of a web-moment ...

Anonymous said...

Hey, not to worry. Nephew already has signed copy of This Is Suki, plus the photocopied and spiral bound even earlier version of that copiously inscribed by you, which must be worth more if I ever put them up on eBay, so I can pass on this one!

BTW, did you see nice profile on you in TimeOut?


Marginalien said...

Yes, I saw that extremely nice article -- almost too nice, wouldn't you say, considering how undeserving I am! -- most amazing of all is that Nandini (Ramnath, who wrote the piece) was gracious enough to send me a copy of the mag by mail. Most unusual in these graceless days.

True enuff, Neph, you have the original photocopies, probably fading and moth-eaten by now ... though I always thought it was SUKI you had, not DOUBLE TALK.