Going out can be fun but requires an effort, you have to be nice, you have to be polite, you should not barf with anyone around (more socially acceptable)
Hence most weekends are solitary with comfort music and a book.
That fucking shit is boring though after a bit.
Whad do you do?
Call a bud for a drinking jolt (Calling a woman would require an effort of being sociable, polite, blah, blah – dont get me wrong over here thing is working in the service industry requires you to be nice and there is just so much nice one can be. When I am done with work I do not want to be nice).
Bud who makes beer says come over Jeet Thayil and another friend are over, but come over soon.
Shut down the store and head over, regretting not planning better by missing out on a talk by Samit Basu (Awesome Science Fiction author, FYIgnorant soul).
Blast off, meet another friend who organized the whole reading (he runs this awesome News-a-something called Factor Daily, seriously if not for anything else, they have been running a Science Fiction piece weekly = much love and respect)
He introduces me to his wife who neither of us remember ever meeting. He says we met at an event at the store where we were giving out free cherry tree saplings to all visitors, fuck that was memorable, say hello again to the lady, congratulate my friend on having hooked up with her, I apologize for not making it – bad staffing planning on my part, he says Samit and another friend who is curating the whole Sci Fi gig were there, what joy might get to meet Samit after all. Excuse myself – bitter beer beckons.
Buy beer hyper speed, look for Jeet or my friend, spot Jeet.
Walk up to the table and poke Jeet (not FB poke, the real thing 😮 )
He smiles and says hello, do the rounds being all friendly like and look at an empty spot to sit minus chair.
Mohawk white dude is sitting next to empty spot and asks me to sit, I mock sit and say no chair, dude gets up and offers to get one (Nice dude, I like him already).
Chair arrives. sit catch up with fellow bearded friend, ask what mohawk is doing in 080.
Man says he is a philosophy prof from (some fucking college) in Boston and is here conducting a course at (somefuckingevilchristianinstution). Wow, second phil prof I am meeting is a little over a week – last one was at the #notinmyname protest in 080. Talk politics for a bit Talk about the indi book scene back home (big college town – ideal target audience, Boston brahmins, book cafes where you can get coffee in the day time and beer in the evenings), talk a little of Science Fiction he says he has not read much SF but mentions Stan and hit him up for a book list – hell, people who are smart read and the store benefits from a better selection. He asks me for a piece of paper and a pen, neither of which I had.
Get called out by friend who curates the SF shiz, he curses me for not making it to the gig, I apologize and take blame for having to be at the store and not planning staffing better. he asks if I would like to meet Samit Basu?
Before we go on, I have a confession to make. We are a sneaky bastardly store when it comes to authors and signed copies of books (customers love it (and secretly we love it too, hell it makes the whole experience of owning a book better – if you are at a book event, you have a memory, a book and a personalized inscription – its kind of like getting an author to bleed a little for you, in ink of course). Got a set of Samit’s books signed by a colleague who was leaving while I covered at the store earlier in the evening.
Say hello to Samit at his table and try to ask him why is there so little Indian Science Fiction? He could not hear me over the loud crappy music, he asks to go out to have a cigarette? Head outside.
Ask the Samit if he would like to meet Jeet?
WHAT? Jeet Thayil? Here?
Jeet and Samit go back for some time and get talking, felt a little odd standing there overhearing their conversation, but then there was no other place I would rather be.
Jeet says I run the best bookstore in Bangalore.
Correct Jeet and say we are the best “little” bookstore in Bangalore. Jeet says fuck little, you guys are the best. I know Jeet is such a sweetheart and probably felt it (from my interactions with him, he does not sweet talk and calls bullshit bullshit). I feel in terms of loving books as book sellers we are numero uno.
Somewhere in the conversation these things stood out – Samit’s book count is at 20 and there is going to probably be a movie of his book Turbulence, most big authors are coming out with books like next year is going to be the end of the world (Roy & Jeet)
Samit leaves, I sit across Jeet and talk protests, met him also the previous weekend and informing him that it is not a one off thing people are bloody pissed at the state supported lynchings (if you want to know more about this The Gujarat Files by Rana Ayyub would be an excellent history lesson on how the state is complicit in such activities). There are going to be more protests as long as this atrocity goes on. He says protests should not be the only objective which of course is not the only objective. Sometime back a policy biggie that I was speaking to said for policy to change, people need to take to the streets in numbers, the press covers this, the government reacts. Our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered, a lot of people want to represent but are afraid to, everything has to be hush hush, ladies who speak on-line are openly threatened to be raped or some other scary shit, most guys do not have the balls to speak up, but that is changing big time, the protest for Delhi had over a coupe of thousand people and there is going to be another one with over 100 protests all across Delhi, we do care and are going to make our protest against the destruction on the constitution heard.
Try to convince Jeet to get a Graphic novelization of Narcopolis, he smiles and says no (I will not give up trying though till he says yes, need to make it happen – the book would be awesome) Ask him about his plans, he talks of packing home and living out of a bag traveling, he is going to be done with his third book by the end of the year, second one is coming out November this year. He says he is going to do some travel writing – yes I get to read something other that the sick shit that the sick bastard Geoff Dyer writes (Have you read Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi? He talks about licking the asshole of a woman one night and being a polite persona non grata a few days later)
I promise to hook up Jeet with the illustrator of This Dog Barking: The Strange Story of U.G. Krishnamurti (If you ever reach a stage when you want answers to the deep questions on life you may want to check out this book -bookbait- UG was a nihilist and an Anarchist and thought JK was shit) Again trying to bait Jeet for his Graphic novel, he says no. I tell him about the answer to a question at a launch of the book in 080 by an American journalist (probably one of the 10000 CIA or NR mf’ers that are working under cover here). The answer to where the author and illustrator met – at an AA(or was it a DA meet) The guys took over 10 years to make the book – not that they were working the whole time at it but – life happens. The illulstrator lives in Cambodia and is a full time bum/illustrator.
Try to explain the feel of his art, kind of like Joe Sacco but more grey not green… does that even make any sense? Jeet smiles and agrees to a meet up, man Jeet if you ever read this, I hope you meet this dude and seriously consider a graphic Narcopolis, it can even be done without words (muhahahaha, that is a sick thing to say to a literary writer, but then it can actually be done.)
Decide on hitting up mohawk for that list, learning is essential. Organize paper (a small notepad and a pen from one of the waiters) He asked me a few questions to what the list should have – things are really fucked up right now in our troubled times and need we healing… books people should read, books which can make people be more compassionate.
Mohawk looks at me says ok and gets to it.
He comes up with a list:
Philippa Foot – Natural goodness
Martha Nussbaum – The theory of desire, Sex and social justice
Talbot Brewer – The retrieval of ethics
Harry Frankfurt – The reasons of love
John Dos Passos The USA trilogy
Stanislaw Lem (anything) – Solaris, The Futurological Congress.
Jeet leaves after saying bye.
Mohawk promises to check out the store, I thank him for the list and fold the leetle papers and save it with my debit card, paper and plastic.
Speak to my friend about a list which I have been pestering him for (not persistantly for the last 4 years, he smiles and says it will take some time. We do discuss some books that he suggested that I read and loved –
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles,
The dead father Donald Barthelme,
Fup Jim Dodge
Bleeding edge Thomas Pynchon
All fucking weird, all good.
Get some food from empire to ward off the munchies, with my bud and his girlfriend.
I’m glad I called him, now on to more important things, reading beckons. 😛
use image of lem’s sketches as cover image.,,,,