These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice… and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart. ~Gilbert Highet

As if our monthly pilgrimage to the quaint little bookstore on Brigade Road was not enough, a few weeks ago, I discovered a local lending library. One of the posher ones, if I might add. I lusted and waited. I gave myself time. To see if the urge would pass. If I could refrain from entering the library. (Well, with more than half a dozen unread books already waiting on my shelves, I did not NEED any more!) Yet, Words, they are quite seductive, you know?
Pages and Pages of black print on white(or yellow).
Dancing droplets of joy.
Thoreau’s Paradise.
A world within another.

And so I sinned. Yet again. I was almost delirious as I held onto the books, touched and felt the pages all over(how creepy!), re-read lines to myself.. and wondered..’If only I had a membership!’Point is, I could afford to take membership and read as much as I want. But my typical middle-class upbringing you see, I had to ‘deserve’it. I went around, as much in love as a hapless teenager. I was smiling and giggling to myself. (Don’t we all?) Finally I could bring home my babies. The books I mean.

I came back home grinning in the dark. The sun had set and people went about their way, minding more practical matters. If they noticed my extra large grin, I am glad that they didn’t bring it up. I would have been mortified. Even the latest meditation craze that I am into does not make me this high.

So… Books! That should be my mantra instead!
I am still grinning. So please, walk out as gracefully as you can and let me read, will you?
Thank you!


Toi et moi

On a hot summer day,
I wrote your name with mine
On the sands of possibility.
I was in love-
with the trees, the ocean
and that timeless state of joy.
After that came the rains.
Every shower whispered your name.
I pretended not to hear
and romanced with the puddles.
As flowers shriveled in the cold,
I was numb to your touch, my love
Winter’s kiss made me forget.
Yet, spring was on its way
at the bazaar, our eyes met.
The tune of our life had been set
In stone, a long time ago.
Amidst the melee and the dust
Our story is reborn.

The Proust Questionnaire

I have been itching to do this questionnaire after I read a recent article in The Hindu, an interview using the Proust Questionnaire. Well, I am not famous enough for my answers to be of any literary value, but what gives! For someone who loves “Personality Quizzes”as much as I do, this is a real treasure, and I might end up learning a new thing or two about myself! So here goes:
What is your idea of Happiness?
Happiness is something that I always strive for and end up yearning for. I do derive comfort from a lot of things, freshly brewed coffee, for example. I enjoy rivers and the seashore and I adore children. I like animals too. Curd rice on a hot day would be ambrosia. But ‘happiness’? That still remains a mystery. I guess that’s part of the fun too.
Where would you most like to live?
Ideally, in a house by the sea or the river. I would have my dogs with me and loads of books.
What is your favourite virtue?
I am not sure if it means what “my” favourite virtue is, or what I cherish in others. Either way, I admire graceful people, something that I always find difficult to be.
What are your favourite qualities in a man?
Umm! Lovely question! A five o’clock shadow and well-kept hands sporting a masculine watch. Ahem, those are not exactly ‘qualities’, are they? I like a man who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, who can cook me a meal when I am hungry and who can treat me like a precious gift, even when I am not.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
I like women who are not obsessed over cooking or cleaning or babies. Someone who prefers to be a nice human being first and a woman next. A woman who can accept compliments from a man without wondering if he’s making a pass at her. Contrary to public opinion, a male mind doesn’t always think of sex.
What do you most value in your friends? The fact that they smother me with love and yet not suffocate me. Most of my friends are like that. And they ALWAYS, ALWAYS value my opinions.
What is your biggest weakness? I chicken out of many things out of sheer, inexplicable fear. I am working on it, but it can still cripple me at random moments.
What do you enjoy doing?
Quizzes like this one! Hehe, I love reading and doodling too. At times, I enjoy doing nothing the most.
What is your marked characteristic?
Stubbornness. And my ability to do exactly the opposite of what people ask me to do.
What is your idea of misery?
Being born ahead of your times. You will only get slandered about. Think Subramania Bharathi. Or M.F. Husain. Immense talent, grossly misunderstood.
If not yourself, who would you like to be?
A very interesting question. If I were not myself, I would probably be a tree. I love trees and their patience and their quiet acceptance, something that awes me. Or probably a dog. It’s a lot of fun being one!
What is your favourite colour and flower?
I love blues and greens. It depends on my mood, really. I like all wild flowers and the quintessential Indian flower, the jasmine. I am also going to name my daughter, Yasmin.
What is your favourite bird?
This is a difficult one! I like sparrows for their close-knit lives, eagles for their regal personality and woodpeckers for their industriousness.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are a number of them, though I have more favourite books than authors. From the contemporary lot, I adore Pradeep Sebastien, Kavery Nambisan and Kalpana Swaminathan. All time favourites include Tagore, Rumi and Gibran. There are still many more that I have missed out, I don’t particularly enjoy reeling out names, especially writers.
Who are your favourite poets?
Once again, I have forgotten to make the distinction! Please refer to the last answer!And add Akka Mahadevi to the list.
Who are your favourite artists? Balamurali Krishna (Carnatic Musician/Composer) Ilaiyaraja (Film Composer), Gauguin (Painter/Artist), Marc Chagall (Painter/Artist) and my Appa. (Wannabe Singer/Pencil Sketcher/Stage artist, all rolled into one.)
Who are your favourite musicians?
Once again, refer to the previous answer!
Who are your favourite heroes/heroines in fiction?
Hmm… Akka Mahadevi. She’s not exactly fiction, but a very inspiring figure. And Robin Williams in the Dead Poet’s Society.
Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?
My Appa. He taught me to enjoy reading, writing and drawing. I’ve imbibed his love for singing and acting too. He was the first man to teach me that idols can have clay feet too and that it’s perfectly okay. What’s more important is to learn from your mistakes. He apologized to me for being a bad father and that to me,is a HUGE thing and I will ALWAYS respect and adore him for that.
What is your favourite food and drink?
So easy! Curd rice and Coffee!!!

If you’re still reading, thank you! Do come back tomorrow for the rest of the questionnaire!

……………………….To be continued.