Thursday, November 3, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Lately I have noticed that Flipkart was enjoying my salary more than I was (as it is, my landlord and various creditors receive a major chunk of it), since I was buying a lot of books: mostly forgettable ones which I laboured through and would probably never pick up again. As much as I love Flipkart, I love myself more, and these are tough times (my bank has again announced further job cuts).

So I did the smartest thing ever since I convinced my mom NOT to buy the IIT entrance exam form in class XII because it would simply be a waste of money. I became a member of a library after spending a very pleasurable lunch hour browsing through its vast collection. Now for a mere 150 bucks a month, I can borrow upto 30 books, and knowing the kind of person I am, I would probably give up eating, sleeping and working just to utilize my full quota of 30 books, even if I don’t enjoy them. It also means that I can read all the trashy stuff I have always wanted to but was too ashamed to own permanently.

This also explains why I called in sick at work yesterday so that I could stay home and READ. Now readers of this blog (all five and a half of you) would know that I try very hard to portray myself as this “deep, intellectual and matured” reader: look at my reading list on the right sidebar or the books I talk about on the blog, and you would think of me as someone with a “refined taste” who only reads classics/critically acclaimed books/ books featuring in the BBC Top 100 list. While I do like all the books I claim to like, the unpleasant truth that I have never admitted so far is that for every “good” book I read, I also read at least 10 “mainstream, trashy, intellectually stunted, shallow books”, after which I end up feeling slightly cheated (not by Flipkart, but by the “author”).

Now, one such popular book which I didn’t particularly like was Karan Bajaj’s “Keep off the Grass” which I read while I was in my 2nd year of MBA. Yes, I was young, and at that age we all experiment and make mistakes. Other people in college were falling in love and I was just flirting with new-age “Indian literature”. Anyway, after reading it, I was not tempted to pick up his second book, “Johnny Gone Down”. But now, two years later, when the librarian informed me that the book I was looking for (D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover) was in circulation and would take a day to be available again, I had to settle for an overnight breezy read (remember my 30-book resolution) and so I picked up Johnny for a one-night-stand, with very little expectations. And I never thought I would admit this on a public forum, but I ACTUALLY LIKED HIM IT. I don’t know if it was the Ivy-league educated guy’s brush with a whole new world, very different from the cushy corporate rat race charted out for him, or the one-armed man’s struggle for survival or simply the vivid descriptions of the places I dream of visiting someday: Khmer Rouge and Rio de Janeiro. The wit was sharp, the story, despite the over-the-top elements, was engaging, and most of all, it did not degenerate to the ridiculous levels of melodrama. It laughed at itself, before the readers could do so. Like the author himself admits, new-age Indian writers are like the Rakhi Sawants of entertainment. The point is, it’s an insult to Rakhi Sawant and not the writer.

Oh screw it, I just liked it because the protagonist was my kinda guy: morally corrupt, financially broke, adventurous, impulsive and running after things just because ‘they felt right’ and getting himself into a bigger hole each time, instead of milking his MIT degree to settle into a comfortably numb boring life ‘with a sweet pregnant Indian wife’.


Neil said...

" ... deep, intellectual and matured ..." Strangely I never got that impression. Ever.

quiet thoughts said...

You can also try librarywala .com
they have good collection and for 150 bucks per month .They deliver whichever book you want at your door step :-)

Mohit said...

You talk about books and you have my attention for sure. Not that it matters but still ... :-)

Interesting list of books there,mostly core fiction though and thus not my current taste of pick . Kite runner was brilliant though.. And you actually read To Sir with Love ??? Nice ... I thought I am the sole surviving reader. Awesomest. To kill ... is connecting but too British.

On library subscription, I somehow feel that there is no charm like possessing the piece of read ... So have grown up from building library of comics, then children magazine, business world to real books ... And every time I look at my library (only I call this 4 rack almirah a library) I feel proud of my collection :-)

I however maintain my e-catalog on Linkedin.

Why did I crap all that ? No clue. Felt like jotting down and you blogged about books so had to write ...

ciao ... Keep Blogging ...

Makk said...

Well, Just felt like informing you that you failed to create an impression of intellectual etc.. if you were trying... ohh I mean I dint know earlier that you were so..

and you might not be knowing I was reading you ..anyway ..hahaha

keep your resolution ( ohh dont scrach your head ...go back to post..30 books one.) up!

Nefertiti said...

you mean I am not faking it as well as I thought?

P.S. thanks for all the grammar criticism.

@quiet thoughts
yeah I know... but I also like the old school way of walking through a cramped room with dusty old books especially since it provides the welcome relief in between a boring day at work :)
librarywala will be the one to go to when I retire/get fired and sit at home with books and pizza :)

are you kidding me? i am VERY one dimensional in my tastes... i read ONLY fiction, except an occasional autobiography (that too mostly of sportspersons) or a business book (like a total of four in my life)which my dad insists on. To Sir With Love is one of my all-time favourite books, so no, you aren't as unique as you think you are. And how is too kill a mockingbird too british? didn't quite get that bcz I always thought it portrayed a chilling image of American society. as for a library of my own, I know the feeling. In Kolkata I have this huge cupboard with four racks of both Bengali and English fiction (all the Satyajit Rays, Agatha Christies, Enid Blytons), neatly catalogued. I would even maintain a diary to keep a track of people who borrowed books from me and impose fines on them (now you know why I don't have friends). But unfortunately Mumbai real estate doesn't quite afford the luxury to maintain a library. I barely have room for a shoerack :(


I see that I have been overestimating my acting skills... anyway now that we all know that I am just a shallow person deriving cheap thrills from contemporary literature, I can be myself now.

Neil said...


Hiten Turakhia said...

Hi Nefertiti,
A very interesting blog post - showcases your knack for writing + being an avid read.

I was happy to note some friends share about - delighted to receive a mention from them.

If you are interested in taking up memberships, this is a really good time to do so- we have some really good saver plans for new members where we are waiving off as much as Rs. 750 on joining for readers.

I hope that interests you - do give us a chance to serve you and we would really appreciate it.

Do check out or connect with us on +91-22-24175646/47/48

Wishing you luck,

Mohit said...

And since you are a fiction person ... Maybe you will like 'River God' by W. Smith. .. In all probabilities you would 've had read it though I guess ...

Amit said...

I hated the book. period. Review is there on my blog, too lazy to pass the link, please search. Thank you for your time and patience :D

Nefertiti said...


thanks a lot for dropping by. I have heard a lot of positive reviews about librarywala and would surely check it out.

nah... so one more book to read. thanks for suggesting it.

lol... and I am sure you aren't the first one to hate it. I was surprised I liked it, but the truth is, I did.

Makk said...

I thought you anyway be your self only... :)

Dont you?

NIMO said...

morally corrupt, financially broke, adventurous, impulsive and running after things just because ‘they felt right’ and getting himself into a bigger hole each time
R u Talking to me....

Nefertiti said...

I was talking about the protagonist... but I am sure there are real life versions of him as well. may be you are one of them