Archive | November, 2011

I love the smell of books

2 Nov

I love going through my personal diaries of teenage years. Mostly embarrassing and rarely judicious but definitely honest, straight from the heart and always coloured with a gamut of emotions. I remember writing this piece after spending a whole evening in the reference section of the Secunderabad Club library. Let me be unabashedly smug when I say it is one of best libraries in the world and will always be ; not because of the magazines and the books it stocks, but because of the no. of book lovers like me it has generated for more than a century now.

The Secunderabad Club library, like usual, was almost empty. The only people who ever seemed to use the library in the afternoons were the retired colonels and me. Maybe it was something about the tall mahogany shelves filled with hardbound books, or the cock-eyed librarian who never acknowledged me inspite of seeing me progress from Tin Tin to The Time magazine; maybe it was the smell of new books and old paper or perhaps the reading spaces filled with warm yellow lights that always lulled me into a sense of peace, as though the time itself stopped ticking while I was in there.

Before I could drop off my borrowed books, I took some time to amble down to my favourite area- the reading room filled with latest issues of magazines, journals and weeklies from all over the world. I picked my favourite magazines and curled up on the lounger. The Economist. You could ask if I read The Economist because I’m smarter than everyone else or if I’m smarter than everyone else because I read The Economist. Maybe it is to casually slip in trivia about Bharrat Jagdeo and Venezuela politics at Mr.Brainton’s wine and cheese do. Colors, Wired, Wet (preserved collection), Platform,(an Indian bi-monthly http://www.platform-mag.com) and Andpersand; all the feather ruffling magazines which challenge common media constraints and redefined expectations, including what a magazine can be. An unbiased outlook and freewheeling vision, these magazines came from heart and guts of their makers. They now seem to have become points of reference in the publishing world, touching topics seldom spoken about or dealt in refreshingly new way. With a visually stunning flow of pictures and text, they alternate between issues that are seemingly perky to shockingly serious. They have endured radio, movies and television. And they have not perished at the altar of the internet. Well, at least so far. My companions through my growing years, these magazines pushed my creative boundaries, moulded my thought process and helped me explore the world of innovation.

With journalism being the choice of my career, my whole life now seems to be dictated by the printed word. But I still enjoy it and believe books still remain the deliverance for our base society (once all the bad ones have been collected and set to fire) and you are what you read. Last week I was on Kate Reardon’s ‘Top Tips for Girls’. It was great learning how to walk in high heels, get revenge and stop a catfight. ‘Tuesdays with Morrie ’ by Mitch Albom now has the most worn out spine on the bookrack. I laugh, cry and relive life with Mitch. It simply sneaks up and grabs my heart each time I read it.

Thank God for birthdays. One could feel quite sheepish about buying picture books after crossing the age of eighteen otherwise. Martin Parr’s ‘Parrworld’, a gift from an aunt, features whacky collection of photographs and postcards, one of them with Saddam Hussein on a wristwatch. Each picture, postcard and object weaves a tale of its own. There is large picture on each page and not too much text- a perfect Monday evening read.

The recent Booker prize winner, ‘The White Tiger’ was my last read. It explores India underneath the “India Shining’ tag. It adds to the growing chorus of the injustices of globalised India. I hated the book. It was too dark, too pessimistic. Or maybe I’m still not ready to accept my country’s ‘dark’ side.

It is Stephen King who makes you “walk into a lamp-post” while reading. ‘Carrie’, ‘Different Seasons’, and ‘The Dark Tower’- his mind bending page turners can send you spinning in world of fear and psycho drama. All thanks to King, I safely feel sick whenever I see a clown.

My first atlas was Longman’s Atlas, with detailed political and physical divisions of the world. In an analogous vein is ‘Our Dumb World: The Onion’s Atlas’. God knows what would have happened, if I had been given Our Dumb World instead of Longman when I was ten. I guiltily indulged in this favourite book of mine which is politically incorrect, spiked with xenophobia and takes each nation’s case, royally! They make up fun statistics and facts about them. ‘Congo Republic- the zoo you could get killed at’ or ‘Iraq-Osama Bin Laden…err…Saddam Hussein is hanged for his crimes against humanity’. The writers must have had a wild time behind their desks, probing into the history to figure each country’s pigeonhole and invectives .And I’m sure some countries could have been a dare. How does one make fun of India? ‘One billion people nobody knows about’. Like a good patriot, I got offended and yet laughed. And later felt guilty about it. But how do I explain that I read the whole book, no page unturned.

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Best Hot Chocolate of London

1 Nov

One of the best hot chocolates I’ve had is the one at Breakfast club in London. Tucked in one corner of a street behind the Angel station, the unassuming lovable shop is always packed with people who love to talk. It ain’t a place you go to relax and revive your soul, but more like the one which gives you the kick in your butt to get yourself out and moving. Bright yellow walls pasted with postcards from all over the world, foreign currency dotting the dashboard behind the counters and brilliant smell of buns hot out of the oven.

My chocolate came with pink and white mini marshmallows bobbing on the top of dark and dense rich Dutch chocolate with full milk and hint of sugar, just enough to accompany the slight bitterness of the milky chocolate.

Oh yes, they even added a mini butter cookie on the side.

Must, must,must go place when in London.

Wait for my detailed post of my search for best hot chocolates around the world.

31 Camden Passage
N1 8EA
020 7226 5454