From the Truman Archives.
This post, was originally written on Sunday, the 23rd of January 2005. It has nothing much to offer but an account of my almost ninety minutes stay at a cafe, during which I almost completed a really wonderful book, while keeping a keen eye on the surroundings. Some of the readers might have gone through it before since I had circulated this on email.
Sunday was good to spend. I was about 100 pages away to end Amitav Ghosh’s “The Hungry Tide” and thought it would be nothing better to read the ending pages over a coffee. So I went to MG Road and there Barista has an open air cafe.
I have developed this habit of stopping by at every bookstore that I see. Be it a street vendor or a big bookshop I visit it, if it’s on my way and if time permits. If I have a book in my hand, the bookstore owner always(well, almost) requests me to let him have a look at it. While he looks at it, his face expression changes to give the impression that he is an expert in literature, a scholar who spends more time reading than anything else. While he flips the pages of the book, it seems he is understanding every word that flew by, every page flipped achieved something for him that previously he could not. And maybe it really did. Trying to keep himself updated about the business he is in. Trying to be with the times I guess. Nothing wrong in that. In fact, Its amusing that street vendors who, it seems, don’t even know English, talk to me, sometimes in broken words, ask about how the book is. They listen with keen interest and try to memorise the name of the author (If it is an author they are not aware of) and sometimes they come up to me, pointing to the book I hold. It’s a brilliant book, I am told. Has it been read by you, I ask, wondering about the authenticity of his last statement. The answer is (surprisingly) affirmative, to some extent. Read in parts only, so as to suggest the reader something. Typical book store owners mentality. And a good one at that by the way.
There are less better things in life than reading a book in the warm afternoon winter sunshine with the breeze blowing with your hand holding a cuppa latte. On the table next to mine, a girl with 4 guys, cribbing about life while smoking a cigarette. I do not know, but there was something strange about it.
A couple on the right, who seemed to be meeting each other for the first time. “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky”, quoted the guy, from the song by R.Kelly, loud enough to be heard across the table. Pretty strong words on your first day out, I guess. Let the lady judge you lad.
Then another girl holding a red rose, waiting for someone. I could see that in the brief moment when I took the liberty of looking in her eyes, which were quite oblivious to surroundings, expecting that known face any moment from the evercoming and never ending tide of people on the sidewalk. Biting her lips, cursing inside maybe, that men are always late.
Enough for a day I thought. And the book was coming to an end anyway. As the writer rightly puts,
“Words. What are they afterall. Like a wind blowing ripples on the water surface. The real river flows beneath. Unheard of, Unseen. With a story never told.”
From the Truman Archives.