A part of our function of running a second hand bookstore is well, buying pre-loved books, if the quantity/description of the books is appealing, we make a house call. Here are two interactions with the people at home selling.
These folks are from the south western coast of India and can be tough cookies. A lady opens the door, I head to the book rack and she says no, those are not for sale. The books in these boxes (three) were for sale. The selection was semi-decent we wanted under half of the books which amounted to a box, there was one La Corbusier which really stood out, a couple of really uncommon classics, a whole bunch of pirate prints. Took about 10 minutes gave a price and the mother goes, please do not be unfair, I say I am being more than fair and have to make money reselling the books and the price stays. She relents, pay the lady and start heading out with my books. While I was the doorstep she says wait, (UGH I really wanted to head back to my book at the store – a big fat Faber on 18th century life, whores, aristocrats…) she says we have some expensive books on painting, will you give a better price for them, I say sure, let me see them and give you a price right now, do not want to come back. A daughter appears with the “art” books, I say hello to the girl, look at the books and give a price. The mom says I paid this much for the books, I say I can sell the books for half that, hence the price. The lady says she will come to the store with the books. I take my box and run. Fucking Mangys.
Gujjus. (Gujarati’s – enterprising business folks)
Got a call from the hubby in the morning, ask what kind of books he mentions a few interesting names and the dreaded CB (fortunately for the store I have selective hearing). Schedule a time for the visit, the man says his wife is at home. I ask him about settling on a price, he says his wife will handle it. Reach the door, ring the bell, lady opens the door to an apartment which looked like a hurricane hit it bad, and left it smelling of milk – yes fucking milk. Ask the ladies why they are selling their books, they said they are moving into their place and do not have space, I mention that usually people sell their books when they are leaving. Start checking out the books, some really nice non-fiction, some really cool zines on water filtration plants, I ask the lady what her hubby does, she says those books are her father-in-laws, I tell the lady that she is lucky to have a curious FIL. Then see some vernacular books, ask what language it is in – Gujurathi. I smile and ask a question just for the fuck of it-entertainment while selecting the books – What do you think of Modi’s (our current prime minister) first year? (do not get me wrong, I hate politics and ALL politicians, they are all assholes who need to be strung up on the nearest trees after a sound public flogging, no specific politician – ALL politicians. Hence all conversations on politics are pointless in my opinion, but sometimes being a little fire-starter is entertaining.)
You should see the amount of development that has happened in Gujarat in the last 10 years, yes that is wonderful, but what of the his first year as PM? Well he has secured our borders in BLAH, BLAH, BLAH and BLAH BLAH. Wow, that is really great. What of actual development and the economy, well that will take time, one year is too short. Compare here (Bangalore) to Gujarat and you will see such a huge difference, the roads for example. Oh yes the roads are awful over here, truly pathetic, do you have any idea how high the graft % is 70 fucking percent, yes. Mom and daughter look a little worried and agree, yes things are truly pathetic here.
A baby starts wailing, I ask the daughter how old her child was, she says a year and a half, I ask the mother if she reads to her child, she looks at me as if I were a crazy person, she says no she is too young, I correct her and say she should have started reading to her child before she was born, so she can get used to words, now she needs to read melodic words to her child, pointing her finger at the words and the colorful images, do that till she cannot read to her child no more, then in four years come to the store and thank me, both the mother and daughter tilt their heads and look at me in silence ( I am going to take those looks as looks of silent adoration, yes when it comes to caring for kids reading I am fucking awesome, we owe it to our future leaders – no less)
Done selecting a box of books, in the whole lot there was one just one book which I would like to take home, a Phadion on art. I give the lady a price, she asks for one and a half times the price, I up my price a bit, she does not budge. I playfully tell her that she is a Gujju and should be enterprising, for a deal to take place, both sides should budge a bit, if she stays fixed, there will be no deal, I smile. She smiles and stays fixed for a hundred bucks difference. I pack the books, stand and say “IT’S MONEY TIME” take out a wad of notes, start counting (all kinds of crazy shit going on in my mind which I chose not to share here) Give her the money, smile to the mom, take my box of books and leave. Fucking Gujjus.
p.s. I do not hate any particular type of people (besides loud people) I hate everybody, most of the times I hate myself too.