The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Connaught Place: Whither the Cycle Begins? Part III

I got drifted inside the shops: my window shopping jaunt seemed to have hit the limit of its possibilities.
At Mont Blanc the girl in charge of the stuff had no smile for me unlike the one at Costa coffee. However, she opened her showcase but only reluctantly, in unenthusiastic compliance of my request to show me her products. A self-styled pen lover that is me wanted her to show me that particular pen lying inside the lighted window behind her. Honestly, I may not have many expensive pens in my receptacle but they are all in my dreams—and always. My pen-dreams are the extension of my literary ambition, whether I qualify for it or not. As if owning a good pen would make me a good writer just like that! Anyway she did not open that but instead opened the cabinet below her desk. And then she showed me a pen, not the exact one but something akin to that. As if I were a customer at the cell phone outlet being shown one out of the bunch of dummy cases to choose from! Somehow I sensed that I was subjecting the salesgirl to unnecessary pain: the pen pain! Then I spared her the hassle of showing me further models and asked her a straight question, ‘What does it cost?’ And happily she replied, ‘It’s more than one lakh and fifty thousand rupees.’ I knew why she was so happy to answer that question, for in her answer she had hidden her words of real import, ‘Go away, man, it is way too expensive for you.’ I knew why she did not say me the exact price—simply because I failed to satisfy her that I would buy one. And it was true. I would have been happy had she replied me even quoting a Bata price of yesteryear—rupees some thousand some hundred ninety-nine and ninety-five paise only! At the end of the day, I did not mind her attitude at all. She was a Mont Blanc girl and she was supposed to behave like that. I was told by somebody in a different context that Ferrari makes a rigorous background check of the prospective owner of its product. Possibly the counter girl at Mont Blanc was trained in that way. My only doubt that begged to be cleared was how much would the company be paying to the girl that was selling a pen which cost more than one and half lakh rupees? I didn’t ask her to help me with the answer, for it was a question too personal one and would have sounded awfully offensive too. Guess, can I hazard one now? Well, it could be five thousand rupees a month, less than the government pays these days to the labourers under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme!
Not that only at Mont Blanc I proved myself an unfit enquirer. Even at Titan where I ventured beyond its glass windows, I drew blank. What I saw underneath their glass-topped show-desk was a cute motorcycle alongside the watches. Obviously they were not offering toy motorcycles for sale leaving their business of jewellery and watches. It appeared as if they were up to some kind of surrogate advertising. Don’t these whisky companies advertise soda and cut-glass tumblers instead of their alcoholic beverages? I felt I should take a photograph of that showcase and sought their permission. Lo! The answer was a curt ‘no’. As if they meant to say it, ‘If you people take the photographs but not the real watches we’ll soon be out of business. So we say a no, an emphatic no.’ I was not prepared to receive a no for an answer. Jilted as I got in the process, I comforted myself recalling the episodes from the Japanese history. Yes, the history is that before Japan was opened up to the westerners, there were people in that society who believed that if their photographs were taken their soul would be sucked out! Can you match this joke? Titan fellows could. Maybe that is why no photograph is allowed to be taken of what is so innovatively showcased there. Well, there was no issue of any kind, and I came out. Connaught Place had many more things to offer, all for my knowledge’s sake.
Then I loitered more with no fixed destination. I would have to go on like that until it was my lunch time. I had hardly covered three blocks by now. A bookshop attracted my attention, The English Book Store. Aha! The right place was in front of me—this was where I could go now. For the sake of my curiosity I must know what was so English about it. There could be English books or maybe that an Englishman owned it. If not an Englishman, he could be a Parsee but never a pure desi. And I went inside. Lo! It was a bookstore dealing in books of Air Force and aeronautics and stuff like armament, war, helicopter, a model of an aircraft carrier—but not an English book. I enquired the shopkeeper who was a pure desi in appearance and in his choice of the language for communicating with me. And he directed me upstairs where I would find all English books. And I went upstairs to find more of those books on armament and warfare…and only a few books in English. I can name them now. Name of the authors—any guess? Aha! You’re right: Amish Patel of Shiva Triology fame and Amrita Preetam and Robin Sharma and his Monk Ferrari. There was one book that I instantly thought of buying, but then refrained from doing that. These days I am against any impulsive purchase. Maybe the next visit I’ll buy that one. And now let me disclose the name: the book was Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Geetanjali, its English rendering. Thus I found the reason why it is so called The English Book Store—doesn’t it offer an English version of Geetanjali for sale?  
Window-shopping…and nothing more than window-shopping—I should now apply myself to doing exactly that. Shame on me! Again and again I was getting diverted from the course of my knowledge gathering. Entering a shop never meant the same as passing by its windows and acquiring knowledge. A nature lover passing through the jungle should inhale the fragrance of the forest flowers and enjoy their iridescent colorations. In no case he should try to pluck one and own it—no, never. Here, by doing that, he would prove only one thing: his greed. Connaught Place had so much knowledge to disseminate; so many pleasures to give, and not necessarily the pleasure of buying a thing. I should be content with my window-shopping cum knowledge-gathering pursuits.
[To be continued…]
A N Nanda



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