Mourning for books

I read the sad news that Borders declared bankruptcy this morning and it plans on closing the store in my small town. Now, I am depressed. First Barnes & Nobles closed, and now Borders. A co-worker asked me in concern if everything was okay because I looked so shocked and unhappy.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-16/borders-book-chain-files-for-bankruptcy-protection-with-1-29-billion-debt.html

That leaves no bookstores in my town. My family outings revolve around going to the bookstore and reading up with coffee and buying some book(s) almost every visit. The smell of the books excite me and that brings me to e-books.

I own a kindle, but I must confess, the few books I have on my device do not hold the kind of dearness to my heart that books made of paper hold. For one, when I read a good book, I like the essence of the book to linger for a while. I like to randomly open up pages and just immerse myself into the world again. I don’t like to have to search for a page and then go there. That feels too calculated – not the kind of lovely-aunt-dropping-by for a surprise visit anymore.

As I glance upon my bookcase, each object has a personality. A unique one. I know when the heart will start to feel a-flutter in each object. I know when I am just meandering through for laughs. Each books personality is there for me to savour, to go back to anytime I want to.

But I find all of those feelings missing in the E-books. I know a number of my friends who have adapted easily to the e-books and swear by them. For me, the charm simply isn’t there, and that means that I am losing out on a big part of what I term enjoyable with the e-crusade.

As my daughter and I meander through the shelves picking out books to read, I wonder, how I will recreate this feeling of being together in the E-world. Browsing for them doesn’t feel the same.

I feel lost.

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Valentine Cockroaches

My college days found me staying in what roughly can be called a ‘hostel’. Only it wasn’t. It was a house that converted into shared lodgings for 30 odd girls. There is a whole saga of my life there in that hostel that would simply take up reams of space. Dining in the place was a simple problem. We had asked one of the messes nearby to bring us our food to the tin shed that doubled up as our dining hall.

I have often wondered how these eateries got the name, ‘Mess’, and it dawns on me that it is probably the mess that is all around that contributes to the name. Anyway, this particular mess that served our food was not the best, it certainly wasn’t the most hygienic. One day, as we were sitting with the sambar floating in our plates over the rice, one of my friends asked me to check whether the red chilli in the sambar looked red chilli enough. I gave her a feverish look. That day was one of the days, I was genuinely hungry and the watery sambhar even looked savory from a distance. It wasn’t as brick reddish as usual and I was rather looking forward to it. I gave her a look of disdain that was entirely lost on her. She was too busy staring into her plate. So, I joined the band of observers and it did seem a little strange that the red chilli should have sprouted little feet and arms. There were distinctly there.
“Maybe, the chilli split in that odd manner.” I said unconvincingly, only to have my co-observers give me a look of disdain. What goes around comes around I tell you.

And so it was that despite my best intentions to believe otherwise, the offender was classified as a cockroach. UGH!

In other news,Valentine’s Day is here, and the daughter is all a-twitter. I have been asked several times what I consider to be the most important day of February. There is love in the air. This time, with all the attention this day is getting in her life, I thought it a rather bright idea to see what is it that other folks were getting the loves of their lives. The roses and the chocolates I knew, but what I did not know was this….

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110211/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_valentine_cockroaches;_ylt=AqHiIYNehXxlvYRA3zuFdHvtiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTMzc2EyY2hiBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwMjExL291a29lX3VrX3ZhbGVudGluZV9jb2Nrcm9hY2hlcwRwb3MDNwRzZWMDeW5fYXJ0aWNsZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA3JvYWNoZXNhcmVmbw–

Here is a gift – I don’t know if any, but die-hard naturalists would consider the gift romantic, but there it is. The chance to name one of the species of cockroaches for now and ever more is the Valentine’s Day Gift.

Given that the creatures do not kindle any loving instincts in me – in fact the only images they kindle in me are those watery sambhar images, I think I’ll pass.

Modern Philosophers Stone

While the alchemists of yore spent their days figuring out the ultimate method of turning copper into Gold, it seems to me that modern alchemists will be better rewarded if they were to spend time finding the weight cure – the ultimate food source that can miraculously keep our muscles toned and our cholesterol healthy, no matter what we eat, how much we eat and where we eat. The ideal concoction will allow us to wallow like sloths and look and feel like cats. Recently, Dr. Oz proclaimed on the Oprah show that African Mango is probably the best bet for weight loss. Could it be the Philosopher’s Stone for Weight Loss?

http://www.post-sentinel.com/

Now all we need is for a food magnate to take 1 gm of African mango and juice it up with 98 gms of sugar and proclaim to the world that 16 oz of this at and between meals will keep you slim and healthy for the rest of your life, unless you develop diabetes before that.

That is what seems to have happened to good old popcorn. The lovely snack to pop at the movie theatre, till theatres decided this should happen.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/popcorn/

Small portion size – GOOD, big portion size – BAD!

Sneeze Freeze

The past week has been rough. The nose acted up and sneezed its way through nights and what should have been tasty meals.

I remember someone telling me during my highly impressionable youth that if you stared at a bright light when you feel like sneezing, the sneeze will freeze midway through. So, you can go back to normal from a eyes-puckered-stomach-clutched-eyes-watering stance to a normal one without even sneezing. It has happened once or twice and always makes me laugh. So, I spent one morning staring at the Sun every few minutes. After this enlightening experience, I tottered into the home partially blind only to bang into sofas and chairs placed in my path while sneezing just as hard as before.

Imagine then, how special I felt when I saw the world took note of my misery and decided to have a program on National Public Radio about sneezing.

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/07/133499190/what-ah-choo-can-do-for-you

I smiled through my sneezes the whole way through. Apparently, there are some folks who seem to react with sneezes at unexpected stimuli – like while eating mint. Throw something like this at me, and I had to try. I popped some mint into my mouth to see whether I would sneeze more, but as it turns out, I belong to the category who does not sneeze at mints. In fact, I seemed to belong to the category that stifled sneezes with mint. I laughed – a deep, villainous laugh at my system. I scoffed at the sneezes that I paralyzed within me using the simple method of having couple of mints, and boarded my train.

Usually mints are supposed to keep you fresh and awake. But the sudden stoppage in the sneezing, meant my body saw this as perfect opp. to catch a snooze and before I knew it, I was dozing with a minty freshness that little things like railway announcements could not tap me out of. I slept clean past my station, and spent the fresh morning hours grumpily waiting on an alien platform, waiting for a train to chug in – in the opposite direction. When something like this happens, the world suddenly seems to set itself in slow motion. I spent the precious moments musing all the while that if a sneeze out of my system can make it at 40 mph, why can’t I feel like I am getting somewhere at that speed?

The article ends on this enigmatic note
“Want to stifle a sneeze? It’s possible, Meltzer says. Just press hard on the bridge of your nose.”

I just might have my nose in a bandage when you see me next, but you know why.