A bookworm’s journey


I remember some of the first books I read as a child. I must have been six or seven, when I got two books of the pop-up variety – one was Cinderella and the other was Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.

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Each time I turned a page, magical things happened. I still remember a page from the Cinderella book, which showed Cinderella sitting by the fireplace, looking pensive. On that page there was a broom that popped out, and three small kitchen jars that popped out.

I must have read those books a zillion times. Then started the love for comics, devouring every neatly drawn frame, enjoying the dialogues, more magic.

And then, suddenly my sister thrust an Enid Blyton into my hand and said, “Read this.”

It was the first book of the Secret Seven series. I was initially reluctant to read a book that had no pictures. But my sister  sold it to me!

I had taken an important step in my reading journey. Now, I could read words and imagine the scenes in my mind. This was a whole new experience. I gobbled up the entire collection of Blyton books.

‘Twas time to graduate to a new author, but again there was reluctance to move from my comfort zone. My sister was my role model, soon I was trying new books and new authors and new genres.

The years have flown by but my love affair with books continues to this very day. I love their titles, their smell, the many genres, the plots, the stories.

What’s your bookworm journey like? Would love to know.

Mind the Gap


I was reading an article this morning about the London Underground or Tube, and a funny incident came to mind.

A long time ago, more than fifteen years ago, I used to work in London.  It was my first trip outside India, and everything was fascinating and exciting.   I saw places that I had only read about,  and got to try all those food items that Enid Blyton wrote about in her books.

I learned about the Tube, and how to Mind the Gap and the pronunciation of certain words, which i had until that point pronounced differently.

My colleagues, who were already based there, took my enthusiasm in stride.

I must have been about a week old in London, and my colleagues and I were getting back to our workplace from a meeting.

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       Courtesy – http://www.telegraph.co.uk

We took the Tube. The escalator in that station was very long or high, whatever the measure used.

I had just learned the rule that people who wanted to walk up the escalator walked on the right, while others stood on the left.

My colleagues told me that it was a thrill to walk up this longest escalator and that we would  time ourselves. I was very excited. Being the only lady, they asked me to start first.

I climbed, briskly, wow…it was exciting, and huff…puff…, I was struggling. The snake went on and on. I could not slow down, as my colleagues were behind me, or so I thought.

Like the wolf in the Three Li’l Pigs, I arrived on the top, a mass of huff-puff. I looked at my watch. Yay!

I turned around to look for my colleagues for a high five. Imagine my shock – all of them were travelling up on the left side. They caught my glares from above and shook with laughter.

I have such wonderful memories of London. It remains one of my favourite cities.

Overflowing bookshelves


Most days, we allow our lives to flow along, performing everyday chores and keeping our appointments.  Then again, some days, we wake up with a sense of purpose, where we plough through tasks and chores methodically, and feel a strong sense of achievement at the end of the day.

Yesterday, was such a day for me.  I woke up with a clear sense of purpose.  The list of tasks was long, but manageable. So, I wrote it out on my notepad.  I  decided to work my way down the list, not for a moment doubting my strong will power or its ability to drive me to task completion. Enough said.

The first chore on my list was – ‘Clean the two bookshelves’.  See, I had it clearly stated – half the battle won.  Each of these  bookshelves has four racks. Each of these eight racks is crammed with books, and more books.  The books, poor souls, have no breathing space.  I  wanted to give them some respite from being smothered by words!

I first took down all the books from the shelves.  And then, the fun started.  I dusted each one, and sorted them into piles – Must have, Can go, Not sure!  But each time I sorted a book, I flipped through its pages, and sat down cross-legged, just to jog my memory. Aha, the sheer pleasure of reading, surrounded by books.  Soon, I was nose deep in Ayn Rand and R.K.Narayan, Hilary Mantel and Amitav Ghosh.  Time tip-toed around me, giving me complete ownership of those moments of bliss.  I made a mug of coffee for myself (after all, how can reading ever be complete without coffee!).

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The children have their term break, so when they saw me busy with the books, they sifted through their own, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Lord of the Rings, Amelia Jane, Jungle Book, Noddy, Malory Towers and many, many comics.  They refused to part with any of their books.  They suddenly wanted to re-read all of them.

So, to cut a long story short, all books went back to their shelves, clean and comfortable.  I hope they love being in our bookshelves as much as we love having them with us.

I shelved my chores and settled down to read.

Enid Blyton & A Cafe in London


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Image courtesy -Wikipedia -Scones

Many years ago, I was on a work assignment in London. Every weekend, I tried to see something of the city, and soon fell in love with it. With the city tour guidebook, I checked out some of the recommended walking trails.

A few days before my trip to London, when I’d come to know that I would be travelling, I made a list. More about that later.

It was another grey and cold English day, as I set out to the Kew Gardens, on one of my weekend walking trails. I spent a wonderful morning at the gardens. By noon the skies had darkened and rain was imminent.

I decided to head back. On the way, I was stopped by the delicious smells of freshly baked cakes and bread from a small roadside cafe.

I decided to go in for a quick bite and checked to see if my list was still in my wallet.

A cheerful looking woman took my order. I showed her my list. I asked her if they served  any of the items on the list – scones, hot chocolate with whipped cream, roasted jacket potatoes, strawberries with cream.

She smiled and asked me why I wanted those specific items. I replied that I’d grown up on Enid Blyton and that the things on my list, featured in most of her books.

My sisters and I had decided that whoever visited England first, would try out those delicious items,  and write back to the others.

She laughed and told me that they had fresh scones and hot chocolate with cream.

I struck two items off my list, feeling foolish and happy at the same time.

The scones and hot chocolate were yummy, especially the cream.

Just as I left the cafe, the lady gave me a small paper bag and said, “Some scones for you to take away, with our compliments.”

I was so touched.  It was a long and happy day – from favourite childhood books to a cafe in London and the sweet gesture of the lady.

I completed the rest of my list before I left London, but definitely look forward to getting started on a new list, this time, with my children.