Nobody Tells This to Beginners

29 Oct


Fresh or Wilted?

30 Jul

June brings the musty smell of earth as the clouds burst open, pouring their stack on the scorched land. The smell conjures up another pleasant memory: beginning of another academic year.

Textbooks, workbooks, notebooks, rolls of brown paper, and of course, labels. Every book was crisp, fresh from the presses. The whole family sat down to carry out the ritual of neatly covering every book with the brown paper so the books could endure the soggy downpours, chilly winds and dry heat throughout the year.

Taylor at Men with Pens relishes old books.

There’s something about a used book smell. It’s like the opposite of car-buying. For cars, you want the new-car smell. For books, you want that smell that says other people have read these pages before, that they have loved them, and that so will you.

I have slowly built an assorted collection of books over the last decade and care for them dearly. Transparent plastic sleeves garment my novels and non-fiction collection. This has helped them survive a scary termite infestation in my loft bedroom. The collection also has some memorable textbooks on Philosophy and Literature from college.

Like Harry Potter’s Advanced Potion Making textbook which had useful notes scribbled in the margins by the Half Blood Prince, used reference books are a delightful find. Tablets and eReaders cannot replicate the joy of finding nuggets of information, like highlighted sentences, dialogues marked ‘IMP’ and meaning of meandering dialogues (especially Shakespearean) so that just reading the notes was enough to get a gist of the chapter.

I feel most sorry for books which are falling apart. A tattered copy of ‘The Memory of Elephants’ by Boman Desai managed only one cautious read, held together by paper binder clips. Although I loved the book, and even told him so when I met him during a book reading for another author, I couldn’t find another copy of the book.

Two tattered copies of The Human Bondage I picked from Flora Fountain, the treasure-trove of used and antique books in Bombay were carefully stored and read over and over, until I was able to find an unharmed hard bound copy at Blossoms Book House.

The agglomeration is still expanding, but at an inert rate, but I’m not complaining. O’Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi & other stories’ along with Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’, leather-bound volumes printed in 1984. Collector copies.

Run out of Steam

20 Aug

My Dear Readers,

It has been a while since my last post. This has been a conscious decision. During this hiatus from blogging  I assessed the plethora of blogs I had started. Trying to keep all of them updated was getting me frazzled, and oft times I produced mediocre posts.

No more. I have decided to concentrate on just three spheres: discovering the joy of coffee, blogging for small business and personal observations. If any of these topics interest you, subscribe to their RSS Feeds:

The Qahwa Room –

Phantom Blogger –

Nilofar –

See ya!


Hand written

31 Aug

I have always liked cursive handwriting. Even when I am writing on the computer, the typography of handwritten cursive words seems more closer to what I would write, rather than the spaced letters formed by typing a Verdana or Georgia font.

Kindergarten was when we started drawing standing and sleeping lines. Then came the workbooks with alphabets where we filled each page with the cursive version of the letter. These slowly became words, till everyone was proficient in joining one letter with another. Some stumbled on linking one letter with the next. Their heavy hand on the pencil forced them to finally resort to plain non-cursive writing. This made their work more legible.

Summer vacations were spent filling books with words copied from books. The teachers wanted us to continue practising to write so we don’t fall behind while taking notes in class. I was happy to do the exercise; even prided myself for the neatness with which my books were fulled. Sometimes bored, I would start varying my writing…it would slant left on one page, remain straight in another, and tilt right somewhere else. This was amusing for me since it appeared that although the words were same and so was the style, I could work on writing them seamlessly. Somewhat of an accomplishment for an 8-year old.

Before I had grasped the finger placement on a Remington, I was gifted a Nokia 3310. The ‘feather-touch’ keys needed no visual spell-check while squeezing the buttons typing endless stream of text messages, staring blank-eyed at the professor of Psychology.

Then the keyboard came and spoiled it all. A restricted set on finger strokes, where if you use a letter often enough, it rubs away. I am a narcissist, because the first letter of my name wiped clean a year after I purchased it. Scrolling through the information highway, I found that Qwerty was not the first, and isn’t the best choice for writing. Dvorak has been proven to be more efficient and allows the fingers to rest more naturally, especially for right-handed folks.
It makes me wonder why Dvorak hasn’t outbeaten Qwerty yet. Just because eating greens is healthy, doesn’t mean I’m going to give up eating a greasy stack of fries when hunger strikes, am I?


Your hands are …

4 Feb

Your hands are not made to type out memos. Or put paper through fax machines. Or hold a phone up while you talk to people you dislike. 100 years from now your hands will rot like dust in your grave. You have to make wonderful use of those hands now. Kiss your hands so they can make magic.

by James Altucher