Travel Diary: 2 {+1} Gems in the Pile

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I still am half way through the list of books I bought in Calcutta on Christmas Day. {listing HERE}
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Photo © Penelope Gan – All Rights Reserved – Oxford junior Bookshop, Park St., Kolkata

Yes, I spent my Christmas night in Oxford Bookshop, Park Street. But, well, when you literally live a few streets away, the Little Drummer Boy’s pa ra pa pum has not sounded and dinner guests are still busy priming themselves up for dinner in the most exclusive spot in West Bengal, you must make the stroll down Park Street for the decorative Christmas lights.
Photo © Penelope Gan – All Rights Reserved – Park St., Kolkata – 6:30-ish pm 25th December 2009
Only thing is, it is not a stroll, but rather akin to being a sardine packed in a tin and being transported – you only see the beginning and the ending of the journey, nothing much in between other than the bodies pressed against you. I wasn’t exactly complaining and didn’t mind the body warmth, and thank goodness no B.O. was detected possibly because the air was filled not with the smell of roasted chestnuts but rather that of twenty-rupees hot kathi rolls that were sold like hot cakes at the corner of JL Nehru Road and Park Street. Yes, twenty rupees kathi rolls that smelled heavenly and would have made me happier than a full course Oberoi Christmas dinner!!! … but, it is Christmas and one has to be at the “Grande Dame of Calcutta”.
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Oxford Bookshop is a quarter of our MPH bookshop in Mid Valley Mall with 20% of Kinokuniya’s character and charms thrown in. Despite the early morning dispute I had with the doorman on his attempt to disarm my ‘shooting’ tools from me that resulted in a long, whinny STD phone call about the no bag permitted policy in the Indian Museum, followed by Oxford Bookshop, I fell in love with it:
Quaint. Warm. Nice ambient and practical reading lighting. 
Double height ceiling in a few areas. 
But more importantly neither did I have to avoid life size cardboard standees of Jack Welch and Steve Jobs, nor stare at posters of Agatha Christie, Emily Dickinson and Iris Murdoch’s faces magnified a 100 times and suspended by cables – what’s with glorifying the dead???  

Ignoring the left hand side of the shop, nothing screams tacky or commercial and by that I mean there’s no Lauren Weisberger’s Devil Wears Prada, Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, Cecelia Ahern’s soapy tales, Tom Parson’s male equivalent of Lauren, Sophie and Cecelia – creating a fortress wall that’s more impressive that the Great Wall of China with Jaisalmer Fort’s intricacy. The only let down here was possibly Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, Two States, One Night @ the Call Center and Three Mistakes of My Life… but being an Indian writer whose books were going for 90 rupees a volume, I’ll let it more than pass. In fact, I picked 2 out of 4 of them to discover what the rave was all about.

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Oh no. NOoooo. NO. Chetan Bhagat’s not the “2 Gems in the Pile” I was referring to in the blog title. No way! I didn’t take heed of my cool pal’s caution and outright dismissal of the thought of me considering Chetan Bhagat’s bestsellers. In my usual defiant fashion I replied over the phone in the somewhat semi-crowded bookshop, “It’s light reading. Would be great for airport waiting lounges and transits. Besides, it’s 90 rupees only… na.”

Well, he’s right. And so was I.

It made great airport waiting lounges, airport transit and immigration hold-up reading material.

Well, my dear friends, imagine being stuck with a Günter Wilhelm Grass book, 5 fat, pea-sized brains bozos who can’t make out their own immigration stamps and visas in a spartan small room that hasn’t been cleaned out for the last 20 years or so, and who’s more concern about the temperature and viscosity of their over-sweetened chai than the fact that my plane is leaving the tarmac in 20 minutes.

Now my dearest of all friends, that would have been hell redefined for you. So, Chetan Bhagat’s foolish 3 idiots in IIT was a saving grace.  

The 2 Gems in the Pile are part of my 8 newest acquisition today from this amazing ‘treasure trove’ HERE – only problem is by now, it no longer merely attracts coffee table, cookbook and children book bargain hunters, but just about the entire suburb and neighbouring suburbs population! :(

#1  Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto Che Guevara Notes on a Latin American Journey
#2  Tommy’s War : A First World War Diary 1913-18
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I know I have cross-referenced Che Guevara at least twice in this blog in the span of 2 months, but truth be told I’ve never had any desire to read about him – not even the condensed life version in Wikipedia. I had like the idea of remaining shallow; that of a person who is drawn to a face on t-shirts, mugs and multi-fluorescent-Andy Warhol-coloured posters. War, political biographies have always seemed too heavy … uh huh, this is a true confession from someone who’s read Das Kapital!
Nonetheless, this afternoon seems like a strange one. Not only did I get the above. the {+1} gem I got was a used ammo can – an unbelievable find which I had been told time and again I could not have one even at the biannual army shooting camps I attend.
So I guess the theme for 09.01.10 is Military!
The only thing missing from my life is a Humvee (or HMMWV – High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) … oh yes, I’ve changed my focus slightly – no more Disco 3, I’ve upgraded my (ahem) ‘marriageability specs’ to a H1 or H3. There, HERE’s the price and distributor link in Malaysia!
{wink}
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10 thoughts on “Travel Diary: 2 {+1} Gems in the Pile

  1. gosh baby. i'll swing both ways for a 'hum' honey! lolBTW, u need total makeover. make that total personality makeover. stop with the books first. more push-ups and less fabric. stilettos, fake lashes, face paint, reprogramming of brain … and you'll have a shot at being given a humvee.but in any case in 5 years or less you can get one on your own. who needs a cheesy stinky 'sausage'???

  2. gosh baby. i'll swing both ways for a 'hum' honey! lolBTW, u need total makeover. make that total personality makeover. stop with the books first. more push-ups and less fabric. stilettos, fake lashes, face paint, reprogramming of brain … and you'll have a shot at being given a humvee.but in any case in 5 years or less you can get one on your own. who needs a cheesy stinky 'sausage'???

  3. Oh, where the heck do you find all the time to read, take photos, draw, paint, come up with ad hoc projects, work till 8-9pm, run the scrapbook shop, blog, volunteer with charities and so much more?What's the secret? Are you immortal?

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