I don’t think I am yet to fully understand the meaning of the (phrase?), “there is no such thing as a coincidence” but soon after I published my continuing list of books and our journey together a friend sent me a message on Facebook saying he had just finished reading ‘God of Small Things’, the book I had ended my the entry with and that he had a few questions to ask me about Kerala and its culture! So perhaps I should read it now, before I leave the UK. A sign from the universe, that reality check you need when you get too comfortable with now archaic sounding explanations for why things are the way they are. Hint taken!
Continuing with my stories of story books.
The scene so far – Thanks to a friend I found a box room in Harrow. It is perfect for the time being and I am slowly beginning to get comfortable in my London skin. My friend moves to South Kensington which gives me the right excuse and opportunity to visit and stay over at one of the city’s most culturally diverse communities.
Events as they unfold – The day my friend moved to her new home we decided to take a walk around, explore the streets. And we stumbled upon Foxed Book Store!!! I love this book store. It is about a minute’s walk from Gloucester Road Tube Station and has those wonderful wooden book store doors, the kind which has a bell attached to it so that every time a customer walks in, it clinks. Wonderful! Outside on the pavement is THE SHELF. Upper case because everything displayed outside is for a pound. I was ecstatic and bought a gift for a friend and ‘Churchill: The struggle for survival’. I am guilty of reading the first few chapters, realising it wasn’t exactly my kind of historical book and then not finishing it. I guess one is allowed to feel that way. You try to chose a book that will be interesting to read but sometimes you get it wrong. I shall keep aflame the hope that there will come a day when I feel it will be a good read. I wanted to come back to the book store again many a time but could never find my way around to it. I hadn’t paid attention to the way before and only remembered walking left from the residence. But finally one weekend, determination led to perseverance and I found it! It was definitely the plan, to find Little Foxed Books one way or another but it was not all that passionate a search. I suppose unlike other times I just had more time than before!
And the rummaging and the wondering and the agony of trying to chose ‘one or two’ books from too many began. I finally decided it would be these two.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: Set during China’s cultural revolution this book was such an intimate read. The cultural revolution, from children’s perspective. Soon after I found the Harrow Council Library I read a book on the Tiananmen Massacre. I have forgotten the name and have tried very hard in trying to find it on Google. I know that the name has Yellow in it! It will come back in time. I like reading books by Chinese authors. There style makes negative situations sound light. You feel the anguish and the pain in the stories but there is always an undertone of perseverance and courage. I don’t find this in South Asian works. I haven’t read many but when I compare how similar situations of communal strife are portrayed in Chinese fiction with Indian, the Chinese always sound more hopeful than the Indian. Maybe it is because I read it from a distance. I have never visited China and perhaps the fact that I have lived in India for most of my life puts me closer to the reality of the situations described and I find it weighty because in addition to the character’s cynicism is my own.
The second book I bought was about the African challenges of Kuki Gallmann and her family in Kenya – Night of the Lions. Their sense of adventure and courage I admire. A good reminder when you are running low on ‘spirit’. But what makes this buy extra special is that it is second hand and once belonged to Camilla Hyden in Sydney in 2012. I feel like writing my name and 2012, giving it back to Foxed Books. Hopefully its next owner will feel the need to do the same! Another version of sending scrolls in bottles across the seas.