"if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi." -Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence(2003)

Literary Pursuits

I’d have liked to call myself a bibliophile, but … i don’t know. it sounds so … perverted. even the word bookworm is somehow disgusting.

so what do i call a person, i.e. yours truly, who simply likes reading? i promptly fired up my favorite browser, pointed it to answers.com and thought i’d be on my way soon. sadly, i was mistaken. and disappointed. answers.com is, contrary to the name, just an incomplete upgrade to AskJeeves. Incidentally, AskJeeves (which is now ask.com) returns the same results as does Google.

in any case, i landed on the word literati after perusing through my own limited vocab. and though it sounds a bit … conceited, i thought i’d stick with it. as the poet once said, “…I confess an itch for the praise of fools”.

being a not-so-elite member of the literati (gotta admit, our names should be on the endangered list), i think it’s only appropriate that i promptly become a member of the nearest library in my immediate surroundings wherever i relocate so that i – in the least - maintain the über-hyped status quo i just defined for myself.

the thing is, with my luck, this is always the difficult part.

Back in India, i was a member of BCL only for so long. firstly they only had books of British authors, which was certainly lame. and then they went on to raise the fees to such an exorbitant amount, it was obscene.

consequently, i was the epitome of glad when i came stateside and found out that all the local libraries are free! yeah, that’s right! F-R-E-E. as in, no payments. Books, magazines, newspapers, you name it, and if they ain’t got it, they’ll get it for you. it was pure book p0rn. hell, they even had terminals with free Internet!

i could hardly believe my eyes. i began to envision glorious visions of me swimming in books. readable things floating around as if above the influence of gravity and i am plucking one out and reading as i please. i could imagine a halo over my head and harps playing around me. aren’t these things supposed to cost money? well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. and so i did.

sadly though, the glee was short lived. Initially, there were transportation issues. i wasn’t privileged to drive, and though some argue that no distance is un-walkable (i believe no distance is – even the way back from the car-park), there are other considerations like time and the elements. (i could have said ‘weather conditions’, but coming from a literati, it seems, well, lame.) when i did finally become eligible to officially drive, (the process takes a minimum of 4-6 months for a new comer, whether or not you can drive), the public library, it seems, was so flushed with funds (only in the US!), and soo running out of space, that they decided to… erm, close down for renovations and expansion. i was left high and dry. but not before i had consumed at least half a dozen of their classic collection, (quite) a few dozen movies, countless periodicals and novels. (paid a fortune in late fines too… i guess that explains the ‘flushed with funds’ part)

i waited. they built. progress was slow but steady. the days turned into weeks and weeks into months and then multiplied themselves several times over. completion seemed so near, yet so far.

meanwhile, completion did occur - on our lease. we had to move out. in a way, i was glad for the move. the place was dead as the dial-up and just as obsolete. in our new not-so-dead town village, i promptly checked out (pun intended) the nearest library. this one (the library, i mean, not the village) was larger than the previous, and nearer too. i was content for the first couple of months before Murphy stuck. again. they closed down for expansion and renovations.

well, might be just a coincidence, i shrugged. shit happens.

the subsequent weeks were spent watching as they demolished the now desolate place to the ground and later build it from ground up. that stopped once they erected tall barriers around the construction area. the days turned into weeks and weeks into months and then multiplied themselves several times over. Picture

One day, after i had almost given up all hope of the library ever opening its doors to the public again, it happened. while riding past it, i saw lights in the building. there were even some ppl moving about inside. realisation dawned upon me – a brilliant flash of the obvious. my patience had finally paid off.

the new place was roomier, and looked beautiful too…almost like a modern Frank Lloyd Wright design (or should i say, Howard Roark).  

we had recently renewed our lease, and i had absolutely no intention of moving out, so i imagined spending my waking hours devouring whatever they had to offer at the sprawling estate.

but Fate, it seems, was not to be so kind. a week later, my car was stolen.

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