Neighbourhood haunts

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On a relaxed evening I walked into the bookshop. There was no husband waiting at home, the cook was given the evening off, no gym to rush to, no series on Netflix left to finish.

I wasn’t there to discover new books but rather to pick up the ones on my long list. The second part of Maya Angelou’s memoir wasn’t available and the staff offered to order it by tomorrow. “That’s ok. I will read it on my kindle”; I said. But out of guilt picked up the 3rd book in the series. I am always torn between books and ebooks and keep switching between both. At any given time, am reading different books on both. Gemini, you see. Need double (and more) of everything.

I circled every aisle twice so any book screaming out to me wouldn’t get missed. Spotted a cute guy in my aisle and acknowledged his presence. In the next aisle, a woman almost collided against me. We were both moving away from the shelves and twisting in all positions to spot books in the farthest corners. “Why do people exist?”; I thought. But then she laughed and I gave her the “all is forgotten” shrug and smile.

I asked the staff for “The Brave new world” and was delighted with how quickly they located the book.

In the magazines aisle, all the health and fitness magazines had men on their covers. Why hadn’t I noticed the sexism before? Oh, look, cooking magazines for the women. No wonder print is dying.

An old man approached me with “The brave new world revisited” in his hands. “You should read this as well if you’ve picked up The Brave new world. The original was published in 1930s but this one was published in 1950s”

“Do you work here?”

“No. I love books and my house is filled with them. I was a patron of this store in Khan market when I lived in Delhi and now I frequent the Gurgaon store”.

“Thank you. I will buy the book”.

At the counter, the staff was dragging the billing because they were hoping I would pick up a book from the cash counter. Bloody buggers were right.

“Mam, should we start billing?”

“Please. Else there will be no money left to pay for essentials this month”

“Mam, you should check out these two books. They are brilliant. You will love them”

Here is a secret about me. I can’t say “No”. I will evade, ignore, lie or say ‘Yes’ and ditch. Because a ‘No’ means ‘No’ and a door once closed should never be opened again.

“Ok. I will buy one of those books. Now please finish my billing”.


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