Ode To Abu

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

B for Books!

This blog post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This challenge involves writing a blog post on any topic/theme in the order of the alphabets from A-Z. The blog posts have to be written each day through the entire month of April, excluding Sundays.

My chosen theme is the city of Chennai, its happenings, events, and my memories and experiences connected with this place.

As the poster states, it’s International Children’s Book Day. In many ways, I’m still a child who has yet to grow up and am darn proud of it! :D

My foray into a magical childhood was propelled by the wonder of paper bound together, weaving together a tapestry of words that transported me into so many different worlds.

Have spent many a summer vacation in Chennai pouring over books. I would land in this city every summer to undertake the mandatory visits to grandparents, cousins and sundry relatives. It was never a smooth process since every year people would ask the same old annoying question – “Do you remember me?” The other proverbial queries were – “You’ve grown taller/thinner/fatter/DARKER (the typical Indian intro line)”. All these used to ruffle my feathers and annoy the bejesus outta me no end.

Books were my erstwhile escape. With my nose stuck in a book, nobody bothered me much and even if they did, I was too engrossed to care. I would arrive at my summer destination armed with a bunch of books to keep me occupied all through the month or two of the trip. Libraries were my haven back then.

Enid Blyton’s books topped the list. The School series, Famous Five, Secret Seven, Tinkle, Target, Tintin, Asterix, Phantom, Mandrake and so many more were my favourites. My grandfather was a smart man who knew how to get into my good books! :-) Each summer I would look forward to his book stash. He usually had a new bunch of bound Amar Chitra Kathas, Panchatantras, other folk tales etc. ready and waiting to keep me occupied.

Chennai has many lending libraries. The earliest ones were Easwari, Senthil and the one at Egmore. 
Can't remember the name now. Most of these stacked comics, novels and magazines. Eloor came in on a larger scale with computerized tracking software, imported books and mags, and expensive pricing. The Landmark store in Chennai was known all over the country for its dedication to books over the decades. That was a favourite haunt for most of us young readers to shop for books on our wish-lists. Today, there's also Crossword that is popular, besides the numerous online and virtual bookstores. The ones that offer discounted rates such as Flipkart.com and Amegabooks.com are popular hunting grounds for readers today.

Recently, I came across this interesting FB group called RAPO, which stands for Read And Pass On. The book lovers there believe books are treasures, and yet meant to be shared, and not stuck in a treasure chest (read: your bookshelf!) collecting dust. Once a member is done reading a book and does not mind sharing/lending/letting it go, they can post the details of the book on the group. A member who is interested in the book can request for it and the original owner/reader willingly offers to send it to him/her. Its a lovely concept although some people are still struggling with the idea of letting their much loved possessions go. Once the book goes out of your hands, you should not expect it to return to you. Based on the same principles as BookCrossing, this group was started by people from Chennai/Tamilnadu and the very first book to be RAPO'ed traversed the length of this country -- from Jammu to Chennai!

Over the past weekend, I bumped into an old friend & neighbor whose 3-year-old boy used to practically live in our house. He’s almost a pre-teen now and was carrying around this big fat tome in his hands. It was the Oath of the Vayuputras. I was amazed to see this young outdoor sports enthusiast enjoying a novel over his weekend. Kudos to this young man! He said he had read two out of the current hot chart topper Trilogy, and even been to meet the author Amish, at a recent book signing at Landmark. Such is his enthusiasm. I promptly suggested signing him into a book club that meets on a monthly basis called Azure Book Club or ABC. He would probably be one of the youngest members in there! A great addition to the group on International Children’s Book Day! This group has a 'Book of the Month' feature where members read a particular book that is chosen on the basis of a voting system. They meet the following month to discuss their views and experiences of that book. A serious book lovers group that encourages one to read every month, if not every day!

Glad to see at least a few children/teenagers today reveling in the magic of words. For a while there, it was a dying pastime. These days, everyone is into reading. More so, ‘coz it's the ‘in thing’ to be seen and heard rattling off the list of books one has read, and to be updated on the Top Ten lists etc. Hopefully, the actual book lovers who enjoy reading just for the sake of reading will pass on their passion to the generations ahead. 


  1. Nice post..There's no better companion than a good book :)
    And I'm sure that the habit of reading would never fade :)

  2. Hi Kaushik :) That's so true!

  3. Reading a good book is true pleasure:), happy A to Z.

    1. Indeed it is. Thank you for stopping by :) Its encouraging to have fellow challengers taking the time out to leave a comment!

  4. Books give us so many things - friends when time is on our hands, advice when we find ourselves in tight spots like the characters, insights into life, wisdom, solace, and above all, they don't judge. Books are just life's wonderful gifts. And I thank you for introducing me to RAPO. Shall always be obliged.

    Joy always,

    1. That's a lovely post, Susan! Very well described. Enjoy RAPO'ing! :)

  5. Looked at your month's offerings and honed in on "B for Books" of course. Enjoyed going through this nice, informative post.