I have been an avid reader since the day I came across a book for the first time. And a writer too. Mom says I used to grab the morning paper after Papa was done with it & stare at it intently pretending to be reading it. And many of Papa’s old magazines bear witness to my unskilled writing skills (not that I’m skilled now). This was in the first few years of my life.
Later on when the alphabet and the like started making sense to me I was introduced to the wonderful world of books by Papa. The first story book that found its way into my hands was the kids’ magazine Champak. I have a vague memory of diligently marking every story I’d read with a pencil and also pausing now & then so that the entire book isn’t finished in a single day. Well, I still haven’t mastered that art and every book I pick up ends up sooner than I want it to.
There are many such books in my collection that date back to when i was 10 or 12. But the book that I love the most & treasure till date is my copy of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. It turned 8 this year.The book is special for more reasons than one. I used to subscribe to every children’s magazine available in my pre-teen and teen years. There is this very interesting one Children’s World published by NBT that I particularly fancied. Some girl had written a book review of HP 4 in that. And after reading it I was mesmerized to say the least and practically obsessed with the idea of reading that book. Luckily my 13th birthday was approaching. And I was equally obsessed with the idea of finally turning into a teen. So both the obsessions combined and I launched into a full-fledged tantrum mode at home.
My parents are sensible people, bless them! I’ve already mentioned their stance regarding excessive expenditure. And everyone knows HP books are a tad bit costly. So my numerous water-leakages were of no avail. Finally I bargained with Mom & sacrificed my birthday cake to finally get the book. And the thick book lasted for just 12hours in my hand before I was torturing my classmates for HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban! Thus began my journey with Harry. And if there is one book that I coveted with all my heart & soul, its HP5. Till date there has been no other book that I had wanted with as much desperation as Harry Potter & the Order of The Phoenix. Sadly I still don’t have it in my collection.
Needless to say I prize my HP4, that’s one book I am never going to give away, except perhaps to my grandchildren! I wouldn’t want them to miss out on this magical tale and read all about Hogwarts that too from a hardbound book and not some e-tablet. Now in the age of e-books I still prefer buying books and go berserk during a book-fair. I own a small personal library now with a wide collection of fiction and classics. It’s only book lovers who will understand the difference between staring at letters on a screen and flipping through pages inhaling the sweet smell of books.
There is something about the feel of paper that the hard LCD can never replace, isn’t it?!
P.S: This post is a part of BlogAdda’s my Oldest Book contest.
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Be warned,the topic is minimally related to the content of my post.Infact there’s hardly any sense in having such a profound philosophical heading to this mundane post that’s the outcome of my irritation and disgust based on real-life harrowing experience(phew..feeling better already).
This has to do with my so-called vacation in Dusshera.A trip to the city known for it’s sweet language & diabetes inducing sweets-Kolkata.No offence meant to the people & the city.I myself have had a really long relationship with the city,having begun my schooling there.But Kolkata during Dusshera is like the…like the…wait..yes like an ant hill! Bustling with activity 24×7.
I was like a big bug left alone in this ant hill.Even my parents having seen this before (and not during an age when the LKG teacher’s ruler was the only thing that mattered) were quite comfortable in all this hullaboo.I however remained in shock for the rest of the trip.
My first encounter occurred the same evening I’d landed in Kolkata.Initially en route to Pa’s home the city had looked warm & welcoming.The trip from Howrah station to the house in Ballygung area only revealed that the pollution level in Kolkata is more than that in Bhubaneswar.I could live with that.But worse was yet to come…
I was super-excited about buying a new phone & literaly trotted out with my parents that evening.Once we moved out of the lane,the roads were invisible.All I could see was a mass of people walking steadily towards the pandal by that road.and then it began.I was drawn into the mass of moving bodies and found myself being swept sideways.I didn’t have to do anything except move my feet.The momentum originated elsewhere.Realising that I was surrounded by a mass of unknown faces,I fought my way through & emerged successfully albeit with tousled hair & specs askew.
Adjusting my specs,I glared at Pa-“all this is your fault!You found no other time to invite your family over but this??” He smirked at me & walked ahead effortlessly avoiding being swept by the incoming fresh flock.I was in store for more.He actually boarded a bus! And although I literally loathe traveling in buses my pathetic sense of direction & more pathetic Bengali forced me to discard the idea of getting into a taxi.Oh and yeah,I didn’t know where we were supposed to go anyway.
So there I was in the bus,sitting in the front seat next to an Aunty who was trying her best to look suitable for the role of lady-villain in some cheap low-budget movie,the one’s that wear red lipstick & sarees whose glittering pallus can seriously blind you or make you gag.Infront of me was a 15yr old munching away on a Layspacket,dressed in pink minis chatting away with her friends who were dressed in
a. a flowing green frock
b. a chic ethnic salwar suit
c. something that resembled shorts/nightsuit.Talk about diversity.
I rolled my eyes involuntarily and my rolling eyeballs caught the scene outside the bus & almost popped out.
“Is there a Diwali saie or something?Or some celebrity’s shown up?” I turned back & asked Mom.But she was too busy critically examining my neighbour’s saree.I turned back to stare at the masses walking on the streets.Every lane,every pavement was filled to the brim with pedestrians. And all dressed as if they are off to a wedding.
There were giggling girls with make-up all over their sweaty faces,ogling guys wearing sherwanis(hello?sherwanis??),Aunties lifting their heavy sarees and sprinting ahead & uncles(poor fellows) carrying either bags or babies.What a sight!
The reason? Its Dusshera in Kolkata people! Put on your best dress and walk the ramp err.. streets of Kolkata.No hour’s too late & mind you,no pandal’s too small.Your life’s not worth living if you haven’t seen each & every pandal in the city.Travel far,what are buses & taxis for?And what’s a city without it’s quota of traffic jams?Push,elbow,run as the light turns green,it’s a free-for-all marathon.
And I had to wade through this crowd every single time, for the next 3 days! It was a nightmare to say the least.I got jostled,(wo)man-handled,almost punched during this ordeal.No wonder my specs finally died in the hands of my sister on the last bus ride back to Bhubaneswar.
If you are wondering why this post is so titled..well,am talking about my quest for the road less traveled of course.
Sadly there were none! 😦