Another of the dies felicae… on a Wednesday III

I guess if is time I finish this… well before the next Wednesday comes.

In my last post, I told you about coming out of the Maktaba after it closed and the fruitless search – yet again – to find an article I was trying to trace for the past few weeks. Well, my plan now was to pick up some supplies for the coming week and then return to the newer parts of the city, where I intended to pick up a book or two before leaving for home, a nice stiff drink and then then, a blessed spell of sleep.

But as I said, there is always a factor which derails the most carefully laid plans and it occurred. As I sauntered towards the place, where I pick my supplies – having forsaken this time the urge to to go inside the lane to traverse the Matia Mahal area down to the Chitli Qabar and pick up a couple or so of baqarkhanis – and making a detour due to caution around the Qutubkhana due to caution, I stopped near another book outlet to distribute the stuff within the bags I was carrying. Drawn by – I wouldn’t say curiousity or even politness…It was evidently a more stronger and irrestible force, I just stopped to have a look and that turned out to be enough!!!

I espied a couple or so books that drew my attention and on the basis of the covers only – two are medium-sized, one of which bore a gesticulating philosopher from a  well-known painting- both of them among the  most famous ever. This philosopher was one of the wisest men who ever lived and it is part of the ironies that surround life that a version of his name has become the very opposite, a tyerm of derision if one might say…. (I have written a lot about earlier and you can go among the previous posts and find it. I recall it was titled…. ok I’ll be generous. You can read about here:

The other cover featured an imperious looking man, in a tricorned hat, mounted on a rearing horse. No prizes for guessing who this was….. And if you can’t still figure it out, then all I have is deris… pity for you. I must also mention that my esteem for this historical figure increased manifold when it was due to him that I chanced to make the acquintance of someone who has become one of my closest friends, not to mention My Ustaad. Well, that is all I can say here.   

There was still the third book. This much bigger then the other two combined showed a ferocious looking warrior, unmistakenly from a Semitic religion, such as the cariacture in those comics I used to read a child and now figure – in its rather black and white depiction of a lot of Indian history, despite the garish colours – has had an affect of the psyche of countless of my so called compatriots (even me before I grew out of it by the dint of continous absorption of unbiased accounts and growing wisdom).

Well, I saw the books and found all were publications of the Farid Book Depot and decided to acquire them…. or put it this way, there was no way, I would leave the area without them. So I went into Farid….. where I found they HAD NONE OF THEM at that time. They counselled me to come the next day but this wouldn’t have been feasible. AND I WANTED ALL OF THEM THEN ONLY. (sometimes I can be a right stubborn…). So acting on their other suggestion, I decided to go to their head office in the Pataudi House area….. deeper in the alleys. But when has that ever stopped me?

I could go into detail…. but let me present you with concise account, though not economising on the details. The measured tread of my walk- restraining fiercely the desire to break into a run to my destination-  through the narrow, lamplit alleys – some of which seemed carved through habitations, the asking of directions, the anxious glances at the watch, the mounting anticipation, the arrival at the destination, shunting from one building to the other but finally getting two of the desired books except one of the philosopher and shrugging philosophically (sorry, I couldn’t resist that) and leaving triumphantly with them.

The return was not that lucky…in fact I blush as I recall how my inertial guidance system malfuntioned. Overcome at the acquisitions, I mistakenly took a wrong turn but by the dint of some more judicious enquries, managed to emerge but at a point quite divergent and slightly distant from where I  had plunged in…on the hunt, if I may use the metaphor.

There was nothing else to do…. I walked up to the specified place to pick up the required supplies. I realise – in hindsight – I should have done so earlier. I also realised that somewhere I had lost a lighter while the older one had broken down. This was however the least of my worries. I had to get to my bookseller to pick up the books and time was ticking away. There was no time to walk through that crowded street and take the Metro. I had adopt other means of transport. I did, finally finding one I haggled with slightly and agreed to what I offered.

And wonder of wonders, by the time I reached my new destination, my bookseller was still open and I wasted no time in picking up one of the books I wanted and keeping the other for sometime later, due to paucity of funds, though I told him was that I wanted to concentrate on the one I was picking up then.

And well this was how the day event…. I am so glad that I managed to put it down for posterity before I was too late and the memories clouded over and became less distinct.  I do hope other coming Wednesdays will be as memorable though I will not complain if they are a trifle less action-filled.


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