Got a call in the afternoon regarding a bulk(ish) sale of books, saw some photos of the haul and decided on making it immediately as the customer wanted to clear the books ASAP. The location was Kengiri which is way out of town. Got there, really earthy looking house at the dead end of a road, next to a chickoo orchard.
Walked into the house to see a familiar face of a customer from the store, a young girl on the carpet in the drawing room surrounded by stacks of books, a young man taking a stack of books upstairs and an middle aged gentleman in a wheel chair.
The lady explains that what started as a small project of clearing some books from the house went a little out of hand and thanked me for coming so soon. Was offered a by three of chai before getting started on the stacks of books, found out that the girl at one point of time in school used to read about three books a day, yes three books a day. While the mother used to browse for books the girl would finish reading a book in a couple of hours. The girl has just graduated and is now to be a lawyer. We spoke a bit about the Reva (An ugly but practical overpriced electric vehicle in India)
Go through the books which were a really nice mix of nonfiction, travel, science fiction and literature.
Offered a second round of chai, ask the man what he does, he is a professor at the IISc. Wow, that is fantastic, what field? Advanced materials. I was a little overwhelmed and mentioned how lucky the were to have so much of greenery around.
Ask who did the Science Fiction books belong to (We have a serious weakness for it and have no shame celebrating its glory). The young man says – mine! (I like this kid already.) He says he has saved more books for himself. I tell him that is a good thing because Science Fiction is the best thing ever, better than literature too (hey everyone is entitled to an opinion).
The mum smiles and asks me why? I say because it is forward looking. She asks me to give me an example, first book that came to mind is Neuromancer by William Gibson, he predicted cyberpunk culture and human computer hybrids which are just about getting to be reality. The lady smiles.
I ask the young man what he is doing, he just completed his PHD in Astrophysics and is going to pursue a post doc.
I tell the man that we do nothing to encourage Science fiction, I tell him about a tale of a Chinese commission to Silicon valley to figure out what makes some of the great ones spectacular. The commission finds a common thread, quite a few had read Science fiction as kids and these books had helped them shape some of their thought processes immensely. The lady asks like whom? Elon Musk, that dude was seriously into SF. So the commission goes back to China and reports back. They now fund propagation of Science Fiction – writing and reading. I have been telling this to quite a few people to help them have an epiphany – Shit, we need to be doing this as well, so far no government agency that I know of does this, if you do please hook me up so I can ring their bells. So far two people who I have told this tale to have come back to me and mentioned that they have spoken about this at seminars, so the tale moves on (muuhaha), hopefully someone somewhere actually gets it and perhaps would pick up a Science Fiction book, read it and quite possibly get infected by the SFloveVirus, it is bloody addictive and hard to be cured from.
We talk about the music scene, a strange trend which I am noticing (possibly a cognitive bias) – I went to two jazz band gigs recently and both of them were inspired by Science Fiction, one had a song inspired by Flatland and another which had a track called the Hitchhiker, their CD cover art had all kinds of SF stuff in it, with a SF short story to boot.
I tell them I need a few moments to make a hisab. The mother asks me to check out the garden enjoy my chai and take my time. They had a beautiful stone pathway with a lot of greens everywhere and a chickoo forest in the back ground, which was just fantastic. A perfect setting for a lot of reading.
When I was doing the final figure deciding on deducting 500 for the trip, the man starts humming something like the ave maria (strange but interesting effect). I come up with two figures one for a trade and another for cash, the girl gives a figure for cash and a voucher, I was giving a figure back and the mum says the figure mentioned by her daughter is ok, so it stuck.
I ask what the lady does, she says nothing worth mentioning but does get to read a lot, that is really an awesome place to be at, just not give a fuck and read.
Started loading the vehicle and the kids and mum helped me load the books. Wait just a moment here, in the not too many years we have been running the store and doing pick up book services, this is the second time the family that sold the books helped, the first was at a Canadian diplomats house. They, just started loading too, which was kind of cool.
Finished packing and left in the rain, back to 080 for what the evening had to offer, that is another story which I am going to save for a book, I have been told to stop hating, be cool, more tolerant and stop freaking people out about something as offensive as politics on a bookstore page, we are supposed to be a sanctuary, for all.
This kind of experience happens once in a couple of years, it is probably one of the most fun things to do as a bookseller.