Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Hunting!

(I recently wrote this article for a local newspaper and that thought it wouldn't look too out of place on my blog. So here it is! Really hoping that it gets published because I haven't been able to get anything published since uummmm... well... quite a long time.)

Hungry for a good book? Perhaps, even starving for one? I do not know about everyone, but when I am starving for a good book, my mind starts grumbling and rumbling, very much like a stomach does for food. And ever since the holidays started it began protesting much too loudly, and it was imperative to gag it into silence by satiating its ‘book-binge’ with a good fat book. So off I went into the concrete jungle of Karachi in the hunt for a good book…

Many of the popular book shops in the city are quite expensive. I would have been able to buy only one book there, even if I had cruelly smashed my piggy bank to use up the last drop of gold. They were out of the question. And I did not have any memberships to library clubs either. Where was I to get good cheap books? I was pretty down until someone told me about the book section of Sunday bazaar. ‘Okay… let’s check it out!’ I thought and the next Sunday I was ready to go. ‘Onward my noble steed to the sandy plains of Sunday bazaar...’ I said and was soon roaming around the huge bazaar. Of course, my father was the noble steed and he had to sacrifice his special Sunday morning! But you can even go there in the evening because it is much cooler and less crowded at that time and, obviously, it will not spoil your father’s sleepy Sunday morning.

The book bazaar was just great and a dream-come true. Sprawling over a wide area (quite wide), it was small paradise for book lovers - nay - inexpensive book lovers! There were piles and piles of books: either stacked into teetering towers or lying humbly in their shelves, just waiting to hop into the hands of the next book lover who happened to venture their way. It was such an enchanting place, with an air of magic about it… the dust swirling around, illuminated and glimmering under the rays of golden sunshine, peeking in through the gaps of the marquee. The bazaar seemed to be luring and beckoning people towards their ‘chosen’ book, very much like the time when Harry Potter first chose his wand – or, should I say, when the wand chose him! Funny how one’s imagination can run off in such places…

This heavenly book bazaar had old as well as new books, the best part being their reasonable prices (You need not smash your piggy bank.) Some were quite dusty, battered and dog-eared but not enough to make them unreadable. It just helped you in their bargaining! And there was a large variety too: fat ones, thin ones, long ones, small ones, colored, black n’ white, with pictures and without pictures. All genres from modern science-fiction to old, romantic classics were available but you had to a bit of scavenging to find your ‘chosen’ book. Or you could ask the shopkeeper. I preferred hunting for mine, because during hunt you end up finding other good books. My forage yielded: ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Little Women’, ‘The Little White Horse’ and ‘Mrs.Frisby and the Rats of Nimh’ – the last two of which I had been looking for quite some time.

You’ll be happy to know that the books are for all ages. Mothers can feast on mouth-watering and tempting cookery books, while fathers can go through their political ones, like ‘The Case of Exploding Mangoes’ by Mohammed Hanif. For kids, there is a large variety with some wonderfully illustrated books, like ‘George speaks’ by Dick-King Smith, ‘The Indian in the cupboard’ and funny book called ‘The adventures of Captain Underpants’ – which even I was tempted to buy! The grown-up section included fat books by many authors, such as Nicholas Evans (famous for his book ‘The Horse Whisperer’), John Grisham, Stephen King and others. Apart from books, many colorful magazines including National Geographic and Reader’s Digest were also available; they were in reduced prices so that you could buy half a dozen for the price of one. Paradise, ain’t it?

I had reached the place at noon but it was around evening when I left. My pocket had become considerably lighter but my arms were heavily laden with books and my mind was humming peacefully, its ‘book- binging’ satiated for the moment. Well, at least, until the next book hunting season!

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