After months of wanting to get out there on a Sunday morning and scrounge around the street bazaar for more books to stuff into my already bursting-at-the-margins shelves, we finally made it! Three regulars and one newcomer from our three-month old Book Club met on a Sunday morning, bright and early (well...tennish) near St George's Grammar School (remember those grey school tunics?) and set off to stare at the books on the footpath. The first few displays we came across, just past the Taj Mahal hotel (we could already smell the dosas we had promised ourselves), were not very inspiring, despite snazzy titles and lurid pictures of women in sixties' hairdos on the cover. One title in particular caught my eye: "The curse of the singles table: A true story of 1001 nights without sex" by Suzanne Schlossberg. Intriguing, that, and perhaps nothing like Sheherezade's tales spanning a similar period!
Gouri was the first to spot something she liked, and before we knew it, she was on a mission, to pick up books that had been adapted into movies. Emboldened by Gouri's purposive acquisitions, Binit began looking in earnest for titles that would justify purchase--something that would fall under the broad rubric of "academic"! I had no such qualms, and half an hour later I was about five hundred rupees poorer and had three volumes in my bag: including a nice fat Calvin and Hobbes collection. But the film adaptations far surpassed my collection in number...and beat me in terms of price! Amit too had his share of fun looking at a dozen different editions of classics in translation and sundry coffee table books (which, by the way, Binit had loads of fun looking at!). Old bestsellers at ten rupees each and slightly better reading at forty rupees, and the very real chance of finding that rare edition...doesn't really get better than that for a bibliophile.
Two hours later we began to feel the heat of the midday sun and retired gracefully to the Taj to savour our dosas. I had my Calvin and Hobbes; Binit her visions of Scandinavian villas; and Gauri her collection of movie inspirations. Satisfaction!
The last time I went to the Abids Sunday book market was over 30 years ago (sobering thought), with my friend Suroor and her sister in law Gina, and a five-year-old Imran. We rounded off that morning with dosas too, but at Sarovar, which now no longer exists, the building having been turned into a multi-specialty hospital. The Abids second-hand book bazaar is a Hyderabadi institution. It's a great place to find cheap text books, rummy novels you wouldn't pay full price for, and those colourful Archie spectaculars that bring back a yearning for a comic-filled childhood. And the best part? Crisp masala dosas--or button idlis and wadas--at the Abids Taj!