Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Of the month that was

There are times when so many things happen in such a short span that when you look back you wonder what the universe was even thinking. April was one of those months. Lovely, lovely things happened, but utterly annoying things also happened. And I wouldn't normally dedicate a whole post to such happenings, but my reminder for the second post of April has been going off every time I open my home laptop and who knew if you hit snooze often enough you come to the end of the month without that post getting written?

April involved travel - I was out three weekends in a row, and while they were all for nice reasons, things kept happening while I was traveling that interfered with fully enjoying said travel. On the other hand, I've gotten pretty darn good at packing lightly for a weekend. Also ability to be impulsive is improving.

The godfather visited Amreeka, and I got to see him this time, unlike the last time when stoopid ice storms cancelled all flights to and from Dallas. A friend got married, a friend got a job, a friend got evicted. The first elections back home I wasn't able to vote in, and a part of me was kinda relieved I didn't have to make that choice.

The mother decided she wanted to come visit me in May, so I first freaked out, then started planning Mother's Day. But then the father's eyes started acting up, and we said let's wait and see. Then, when I called them from San Francisco ten days ago (which in itself is rare, because I usually don't call them when I'm travelling) I was informed that all the meds he was on led to him collapsing, he had been rushed to the ER and was in hospital, and that the brother was flying down to Delhi. Okay then. As the friend I was staying with described it, "I came out of the room and she was crying on the phone, and then when I came out again she was yelling at her mother, so I knew it couldn't be too serious."

Tell me, it's perfectly normal for parents to take smiling photos of themselves in hospital rooms and send them to a daughter who's on the other side of the world, yes?

Anyway, he got better, and discharged within a day, but clearly the mother's trip is off. So I can put off that much-needed apartment cleaning even further.

I went back to school, for our one-year reunion, and I can't begin to describe to you how good it was to be back and see everyone. I have very mixed feelings in retrospect about my decision to go to business school, and the two years I spent there, but this weekend brought out everything I loved about those two years. So much happiness.

Unfortunately, on the Thursday of reunion weekend, I managed to sprain my back while lifting my suitcase, and the next 48 hours were excruciatingly painful. By Saturday I was better, because I had found just the right mix of ibuprofen, bengay, and heating patches that would help me get through the night, but then on Sunday I managed to slip and fall in the shower, and banged my elbow, and bruised myself in multiple spots, and basically gave myself another week of excruciating pain which is not helped in any way by the mother whatsapping every twelve hours asking "Hw nw?"

There are also multiple news items related to the brother that make me all squeee. I'm not allowed to talk about them in public but they make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside because good things lie ahead. FINGERS ARE CROSSED OKAY?

Oh and I think I got the H1B visa lottery but I'm not entirely sure because the email and website confuses me so I'm just going to take the word of my friends and colleagues and assume I got it.

So yeah, that was April. I liked you, but I also kinda didn't. I'm glad you're over.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of books and their readers

I don't often post comments on other blogs (which is no reason for you not to. ahem.), but a twitter friend (is that the correct term?) recently wrote this lovely piece, and I was prompted to. And I did, and while writing it I thought I wanted to come back to what I was writing and do a longer piece of my own on this topic at some point, but the comment seems to have disappeared altogether and I'm not quite sure what happened, so I suppose the longer piece about this is coming sooner than expected.

I'm not much of a reader, truth be told. I used to be. When I was 16, I had a lovely three months of nothing to do and spent them reading all the more traditional classics that my library had. Soon after, however, I discovered Mills & Boons and how they didn't require any thinking. And that was the end of that. While I have now moved on from them to a select few romance authors I like to think are better, the number of really good books in any other genre I've read in the years since is a pitifully short list. And then of course, the internetz happened, and so much of my reading is just online these days - blogs, articles, and whatnot.

However, even though I don't read that much, I love books. I always have, so even though I have the Kindle app on my phone full of a whole bunch of nonsensical no-thinking-required type of books, there are times when you really do want to just curl up with a book in your hands. But more than that, it's old books, books owned by others before me, books handed down to me by others, books that have a history behind them that I love most.

Which is probably why most of the books I own are from Daryaganj, or College Street, or lending libraries that were selling off their stock, from the second-hand bookshop in the airport I flew in and out of for the two years of business school, or now from Half-Price Books. Very often they've been books I'd already read, bought simply because they're favourites I like to go back to frequently.

And all of this brings me to the point I had in mind when I started this post, of reading old books, and the notes in them. I'm not one to make notes in books while reading them. Well, except for textbooks, and they don't count as far as I'm concerned anyway. The only times I have made a note in a book if there was a line that jumped out me, but that's been rare too - I was, in my teens, far more likely to carefully copy it down in a notebook full of quotes I used to maintain; these days, though, I'm more likely to post it on tumblr or goodreads!

But the notes I love, and my favourite part of owning or even browsing through pre-owned books, is the inscriptions in them. Who owned them, where and when they were bought, who gifted them to whom, and why - I love glancing into books and seeing those notes that give these books a history. Running my fingers over those names or notes always makes me wonder, and smile.

Whenever I buy a book - new or old - the first thing I do is scribble my name, the date, and where I bought it on the first page. When someone gifts me a book - new or old - I hound them till they scribble a little note inside. It's how I've got the best letters from my family, truth be told. And I do the same if I'm gifting a book to someone.

Who knows, twenty or fifty years down the line, someone will pick up a Chalet School or Georgette Heyer book somewhere, and see my name scribbled in there, and wonder. And maybe smile?