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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The bookworm

Reading to me has been as much a passion as writing is
when in school I used to devour any printed word even in grocery wraps ,I quickly graduated from Richie rich ,Mandrake the magician,Phantom , Tarzan to TinTin and Asterix ,on to Enid Blyton discovering P.G .Wodehouse and his wonders on the way ( and never looking back ) of course R.K.Narayanan would always be my all time favourite with the likes of James Herriot and his sweet animals ,history and biography mesmerised me and travelogues took me around the world .

Amitav Ghosh ,Salman rushdie ,Vikram sheth and thier magic realism gave me hours of pleasure .Paulo Coehlo and Deepak chopra took me with them through thier random thoughts

These days the net and the idiot box along with the pressures of work have taken me from my first love of reading
I still am at my cosiest snuggled with a book of my choice ,like many of you who would be reading this .
With Apple bringing out its new E reader ,book reading would no more be the same !

I still remember how I used to disappear the moment I came home from school no not to the football field but to my favourite libraries ,faintly hearing my mother calling me back .

Once as I rode furiously in my bicycle to reach the Russian library when I was just passing the Ranade library ,Luz corner ,a posse of policeman were standing as some dignitary had come there for a function ,and the local sub-inspector who was a well known terror stopped me with his stick and asked me where I was going in so much of a rush without a light in the cycle ,I meekly answered to the library sir ! this sort of amused him and on finding I was a student of the very same shcool he studied he gave me a pat and asked me to never go without a light for it was dangerous .

The Viveknanada library of the Ramakrishna Math was one of my haunts ,it contained hordes of books and I generally was never in the section meant for children for by then I had an addiction for history and encyclopedias ,this place had a set of pictorial records of the second world war in every minute details ,(volumes of heavy books full of war photos )

Evenings those days were to me mostly somehwere in Normandy where the allies had just landed or in the subterranean hideouts of Hitler and his bombed country ,
Bound editions of Readers digests and National geographic in the library made me simulate them later on in life and now I have a great collection of both these wonderful magazines .

I particulary remember a young swamiji who was the librarian there .he was fond of me and at times allowed me to borrow even refernce books ,once I asked him Swamiji Why is God doing nothing with all the misery around ?and he asked me is there something like God there ?
I was stuned by that and asked him how he being a swamiji could state that ,he took me to a quiet table and tried to talk to me of a power that is unexplainable creating all of us and we being sparks of the same but left it at that as he knew I was too young to digest all that heavy stuff .he said for sure you will learn later about it .
The Russian cultaral centre too had a nice library and one could read Sputnik issues and several translated Russian stories ,the daily movies in the centre were a greater attraction for me .

The American consulate had a spacious library with video facilities and many books ,one could spend whole weekned days there in pristine silence and comfort ,a litttle beyond in Mount road todays Anna Salai was the district central library and the British council ;the former was a government managed one and a bit shoddy but one could find good books on searching ,the latter was known to be a haven for the discerning reader .

After moving on to Ernakulam I found very few libraries there ,of course Paico was a well known bookshop where one could browse through the collections ,Fort cochin had a quaint bookshop called Idiom and also several pavement sellers of paperbacks .

I discovered that the Ernakulam public library had Mr Singh ( no not from Punjab but a true Keralite ) as its chief librarian and that he was my neighbour and this gave me privelges of getting the latest books for borrowing .

In UAE specially in Al ain libraries are not much seen ,my hospital has an excellent one but more related to academics .
Of course good bookshops are there like " The Bookshop " a huge one .
The kinokoniya in the Dubai mall is the worlds largest one and one could get lost in it and its books !
Magrudies in several malls also has a good collection but books are more costlier in the Gulf
To me reading would be a life long passion ...the Bookworm


Paresh Palicha said...

A truly well written piece. :) I'm eagerly waiting for a book with your name on its spine. I always wonder about the phenomenon of doctors being good writers & maintaining it along with highly stressful career.

Anonymous said...

I was in luz recently. To be exactly, On Fri. I missed the chance of visiting the lib.


Maddy said...

yeah - he is right, we need a 'doctor in dubai' series..hope you have read the richard gordon series which was before the herriot series..but with people

harimohan said...

Richard Gordon is another of my favourite maddy

Venkat Seshan said...

In one's lifetime our exposure would be grossly limited if we did not develop a reading habit!! Best thing about books is that it's truly personal, allows the reader to connect, relect, create an imagery and ponder...Of all the legacies left behind by the British I think certainly we need to be grateful for the exposure and intiation into English they gave us...Like one of the comments posted I think "Doctor in Dubai" with a compilation of real-life case studies broadly encompassing Trauma-care for Cancer patients/families would be a great context-sensitive gift to mankind by a prolific writer like you Dr. Hari

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