Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Happens When A Book-cum-music Lover Listens to Bach While Shopping

So Max Mueller Bhawan is organising their annual library clearance sale and today was the first day. My past experiences have taught me to queue for such an event at least an hour before the gates are opened. I was planning for this one for days on end - ever since J, the librarian told me about the "tedious" process of stacking the books which they intended to "discard" through the clearance sale. I decided to overlook the obvious misnomer, and started hoarding up money; making plans of queuing and jumping queues; snatching up books if it came to that; NOT indulging in books which I wouldn't have time to read within the next five years; still saving enough money for my monthly online-and-college-street book bonanza and so on and so forth. And then I overslept.

I woke up in a state of irritation at the realization that I would never be in time now. I never give up on my morning ritual of reading the paper while sipping tea, or of making compromises on shower-time. Hence for me, a day that begins late, continues to run late. Therefore while the sale began at 11 am, I started from my place at a quarter to noon. And, to top it all, I had to go to College Street first. After what five years of university education on literature has done to me, I'm trying to undo it all, and go back to my passion for literature during my pre-lapserian stage. This winter I'm devoting myself to Dickens. Partly because it's the old man's birth bicentenary next year, and mainly because the man's such a fricking good story-teller! He is the absolute best company during the lovely (and lonely, sigh) winter days and nights. And trust me, David Copperfield is the best Christmas book ever. His very own Christmas-books come a close second to that one. I've already started rereading my Oliver Twist. Martin Chuzzlewit is the only Dickens I don't possess, and since all of Martin's brethren and uncles (what? Pickwick couldn't possibly be his brother, no?) were bought from humble, friendly book-shops on College Street, I decided to take this re-route - for old times' sake - and not order a copy on the net.

Some great woman must have said someday, when having suffered for bad choices at the face of serious decision-making, that "When in a state of emergency, think with your mind and prioritize." After waddling through jam-packed streets, I reach College Street to find the shops closed - apparently a union strike (yes, even post May 2011 they have those occasionally). After calling up S - the staff at the shop where I'd placed my order and who'd promised me to get the book today - and making him say "sorry" a hundred times or so for not informing me the decision taken by their union "at the last moment" in the morning, I finally set sail for MMB at 1.

At twenty minutes past 1, I lunge for the door of Berlin (fancy name of a room at MMB), library books in one hand, bag slinging dangerously on another shoulder. I enter as if I've won a marathon, look around, see a couple of people and near-empty tables. Perplexed, I let my mind clear by itself and then rush to the first long table. I poke A, who was there obviously before me, and ask her what happened. "They were here at 11. They took every thing worthwhile." I let out a groan. I have never been personally acquainted with "they", but if I do, with God as witness...

J emerges from under the table, looks at me with mild scorn and puts on the music. And there, it was there and then mon ami that I was floored. Forty minutes later I would finally ask J what he was playing, and whether it really was Bach as I had imagined. He would say that it was Bach's "Christmas Oratorio", ushering in the Christmas spirit. But then, at that moment, my mind went numb for some time; after five minutes it had cleared itself of every useless emotion, and with a focused gaze I made my way to the tables.

Two hours and three trips to my car parked at the bend later, I had bought - Der Brockhaus' encyclopaedia  on 'Geschichte' (history); Der Brockhaus' encyclopaedia on 'Kunst' (art); a pocketbook on Marlene Dietrich; Kleine Geschichte des Films (a short history on films, from the beginning to 1960); Cambridge companion to Bachmann, Duden and Oezdamar (women writers and national identity); Geschichte von das Leben im alten Rom (a history on the life of ancient Rome); a book on Reise nach Polen (Poland); 'Kunst und Mythos' (Art and Mythology); 'Was Verspricht die Kunst' (What does art promise); 7 issues of the magazine 'Kafka'; 4 issues of 'Art and Thought'; 6 of Der Spiegel. I was given 2 books containing postcards and two huge posters - one of a church in Cologne and the other of the port in Hamburg with the old Fachwerkhauses on the background - for free, for my enthusiasm.

Video: This is just one cantata from what I heard today.

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