This one will certainly go down as an expose on the secret life of delinquent booksellers…
Bangalore being the great literary city that it is hosts a really big book launch (read open bar) about once every year , this one was the launch of Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire. For starters while getting into the venue, a smartly dressed gentle man asked me if I was from the publishers side or the (some incompressible side) I answered that I was a bookseller, the dude smiled (I think it was some kind of gate crashers screening procedure). While waiting for the author to walk in one could not help notice the really trippy cover art for starters is just so bloody brilliant. Check it out.
The basic premise of the Ibis trilogy (this is the third and final book of the trilogy) is around the ship Ibis based in the first half of the 19th century. The trade of OPIUM between India and China by the British – East India Company and transportation of migrant labor all over the place.
The reading was swell, the other panelist was some privileged dude who is into Artificial Intelligence at an Ivy league college (yawn, when the singularity happens we are all fucked, lets face the facts). The panel discussion was interesting, Ghosh is a really smart funny man, questions were asked about the book, including one by a man who asked about the role of the dogs that used to move with the migrating population. Then the fun part – the book signing (we had a whole bag of Ghosh which had to be signed).
Queue for the signing was waaay to long, the logical choice was the bar. Met a bunch of authors (these guys are veterans and know where it’s at) Zac O’Yeah (author of Once upon a time in Scandinavistan and Mr. Majestic), and two super sexy authors – Samhita Arni , and Jahnavi Barua. Met a couple of aunties (OMG one was super hot). By this time the fourth wine goblet was in progress, while speaking to the authors son for no apparent reason I asked the boy to rage against the machine and fu&k the man at which point the author gracefully said that it was getting late.
The queue was clearing out and headed to the author, met another fellow bearded bookseller who likes binge at these gigs and another friend who also had a stack of books (we obsessive ones are considerate) we wait till the author is at the fag end of the queue, exhausted, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and slam them with big stacks to sign. By this time I was super under the influence and started by telling Mr. Gosh that I have issues while giving him my stack of books, he was graceful enough to say that I am a collector, went on to tell him that I face issues every day taking books back and forth from the store – deciding what I have to sacrifice for the day, he just smiled while zipping through the signing, smiling and nodding the whole time (OMG did I get free listening therapy from Amitav Ghosh?). Thanked the man, shook his hand and stumbled back to the bar.
At the bar one of the employees was trying to insist that I change my glass and get a fresh one, which I refused (why waste a perfectly good glass). Managed to get one last glass of red before the place was kind of empty. Somehow had a feeling of entitlement being a bookseller suffering under a flawed industry. No body was around, swung over the bar and stole a bottle of white from the Penguin (that’s right, f)(&k the man.
On the way out we were accosted by a man for some reason talking about a book by Ambedkar and how we have to read him, thing is Ambedkar was a dude, but this dude looked like Hitler (well in my drunken state at least) I kept insisting that he reads this new book (could not remember the name of the book at that time “He’s back” by Timur Vermes) explaining to the man that the book is awesome (Hitler wakes up in current day Berlin and deals with the current world as well, Hitler would). This entire episode I did not remember till the next day when I was talking to my friend who was with me, reminded me about this man who was insisting to read Ambedkar. In a sober state of mind, I regret I did not ask the man to try and “sell the book” to me (convince me to read it)
So the learning of this whole head spinning night were:
Authors are awesome, booksellers exist because of them, we love’em.
The Brits and Americans really fucked India and China, some of the biggest names in the current 1 percent had their foundations trading narcotics.
There is not enough history on the subject (history is written by the victors)
Being a collector does not mean you have issues.
Free booze at a book launch is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.
You should read Ambedkar.
Drunk booksellers still try to pimp books.
It’s OK to steal a bottle of white from a Penguin.
The morning after? First thing I did was I hugged my stack of signed Ghosh.