Vellichor…A tale of books


On seeing my first salary credited to my account, I knew exactly what I wanted for myself.Of course, apart from spending it on sweets and wishes of my family, I kept it aside to buy books.I was spellbound on thinking the huge number of books I can gather when every month I get such a big amount.Books that were unaffordable until that time, books that I had to keep away thinking about “do_you_really_need_it_now ?” look from my dad, books that contained stories which I had only imagined.How naive was I to believe that I could buy a whole of them with my meagre income!!. and was very sad and surprised to realise that many of books are still elusive for me.

Books that were unaffordable until that time, books that I had to keep away just after reading the blurp so that I dont need to answer “do_you_really_need_it_now ?” look from my dad, books that contained stories which I had only imagined.How naive was I to believe that I could buy a whole lot of them with my meagre income!!. I became very sad and surprised to realise that many of books will still elusive for me.

It was around that time that I had a need to buy some entrance books for my brother.Though I insisted on buying new and fresh books, he was quite reluctant to pay such exorbitant price for them.He was the one who urged me to check out the famous Moore Market, the heaven for second-hand books at Chennai.So there I was all prepped for taking the long journey to the northern end of Chennai, on a hot sultry summer day to check out Moore market.It was there I found a whole new world of second-hand books.I had already known about the cheaply available used books but I must admit that I was an egoist to buy them.I always wanted to buy a new book and have it all to myself.

Reluctantly I decided to look for some of the books available in that old, woody and dingy cubicles. I was bit apprehensive but I admit that I got carried away by the love for books.I quickly found some gems in quite a bad shape but for such low prices that I just could not ignore them.I told myself, it the stories that matter and not the cover or the book as such.

Well, I quickly had to change my opinion.I have had books whose margins had a totally different story to tell.Those scribbled letters some of which I could not decipher had taken a toll on my sleep.I also found mostly bills, exam schedules even some torn 10 rupees to luckily a 100 rupee nullifying the cost of the book, tucked away in the covers.I am not sure how the sellers missed it :).

Somehow I had fallen in love with those second-hand books in that dingy old place.You just have to have some patience, some love and some good bargaining skills to get hold of some of the great books.Though I don’t know why people throw away books, I came to realize that one needs to part with their dear stories when they have to move on to share and find newer stories.

When moving out of Chennai, even I had to pass on my collection of books, which I want to believe will be adorning the shelves of a bibliophile.Even though I have started buying books from those the huge library kind of air conditioned book stalls, searching for books among the categorized places and not look at others or simply buy one at the click on internet or use a kindle, I still long to skim through the huge collection of old books and then stumble upon a totally different book,then bargain with the seller on how unworthy the book is and its good that you get rid of it 😉 and then finally sit and read the same.



Train Memories

It’s been ages since I had travelled in a train,almost close to 2 years now.Once an integral part of my life, I almost lost the touch of “train travel”.

When I was first posted to Chennai as a Software Engineer,I remember the first time I had to travel alone on a train.My first journey in “Chennai Local“.I had made plans for this grand day for some time then as travelling by buses was a pain.But then,I struggled to get a ticket after standing in a queue for about half n hour at Tambaram station and missed the train which I was supposed to get.And while boarding the next one which was jam packed,I vowed to myself never to catch the local again.tambaram.jpg

But then I had to give it a chance once more.I bought a season ticket to avoid the long queues.I then observed and learned on train travel ettiquetes.I understood how to get into the train for starters, which part of ladies compartment will people be less occupied as in I might be able to stand,when to start from the “seat to door ” as you arrive at your station,how to stand near the doors,how to take minimal space to occupy a seat,how to observe people without them knowing,how to tie the shawl with only eyes popping outside,how to buy those small samosas and what not.Except for the “begging” part especially by children,everything about train journeys became awesome!!

Once we friends decided to go to a far away mall.But we could not and chose not to buy the tickets,just for the experience.Luckily the TTE caught us and made us pay a hefty fine which just put a hole in my monthly budget!!

The scariest yet memorable incident was like this.I was working late and the last train from Parannur was around 8:30.I didn’t know that at that time the station and the train would be so deserted.Anyways,I didn’t have a choice and I simply occupied a seat where there were other ladies.The train chugged for a few minutes but then came to a sudden halt.We started hearing loud noises and spark of lights and when tried to locate the source, we found that the electric connectivity between the train and the trasmission wires were in fire.It was a kind of Diwali :).Suddenly every one started screaming and started jumping off the compartment and ran.I too wanted to jump but only then it dawned on me that I am not at a platform.The trains were very tall and with no other way,I jumped  into the stone gravel.But now the next station to both ways was almost equal distance.It was very late and I didnt know what to do ? Meanwhile, my parents called me if I had reached,did I have dinner and the usual stuff.Though I was afraid and wanted to yell,somehow I managed to lock things in my heart.I had already started following the crowd,walked half a km climbed through thorny bushes and prickly stubs of shrubs and some how reached the highway.Walked a further more,took a bus to my home.I was shocked and shivering but I was happy that some how I faced the situtation without damages.That was the last time I travelled in a local train at night!!

Well the long distance train joureys were also fun.One time I almost witnessed two people having $ex .It was like the scene in movie “Enemey at the Gates“.I had occupied the lower side berth and from where I lie,I could see the upper berth.Now,In the middle of night,I woke up just like that and to my surprise couild see something but could not register what I was seeing.Welll,when I was conscious enough to understand what I was seeing,I didnt know what to do.I wanted to watch,but also not watch.I felt thristy but could not move my hand to lift the bottle and drink.Well,I simply slept again :).And the next morning,all I could do was grin ear to ear when I saw them sitting opposite to each other without even looking.

Another time I saw a couple waving good byes to each other in a way I guess only they could say.And one time I became friends with this elderly couple who were going to visit their only son and his family who was working in my hometown while I was travelling to my home from theirs.It seemed that their son didn’t have time to go home for the holidays.I could send the anger and the sadness that parents carried with them on not being able to spend time with their only son.I hope that one day their son realizes what he was doing! Sigh! Another one time,I slept off and didnt even knew that the train had reached its destination.It was a RPF officer who saw me happily sleeping and woke me up.He asked for the ticket and other stuff.Luckily the last stop was my hometown.It was a surprise visit to my home and no one was there to pick me up,else I would have got an earful about how careless I am.

And so many adventures and memories came to me as I had to travel in train,alone for past few days 🙂