Friday, February 08, 2008

Of shopping, books and the queer people called Mallus

I'd been saving a lot of shopping to-dos since a couple of weeks, so when I finally had absolutely no classes the day before, I set out at 10 am, ready to wander all over the city. Only it's so small that you don't really need to do much wandering :) Booked hotel rooms for parents who'll be coming down for the convocation, ordered 'creamy calamine' at the crazy dermatologists' pharmacy, tried shopping for scarves at SM street (no luck :( ), bought formal shirts at 'Zero Plus' - my amazing shopping discovery, got a kurta altered, tried getting my phone repaired (no luck again), landed up at the only mall in the city... bought some cream, groceries, picked up a friend's jeans, checked out some stores and finally landed up at Odyssey.

I don't know why I've never been to these large bookstores back home, I was totally taken in by the kind of books they had in stock - from your regular bestsellers to Ian McEwan (the author of the book 'Atonement' that's been made into a lovely Oscar winner movie) to... Marcel Proust! They had the whole 7 volume set of 'In Search Of Lost Time'! I remember reading an amazing book written about Marcel Proust by Alain de Botton, 'How Proust Can Change Your Life', but buying and reading those 7 volumes, well, that would probably result in my needing to write a book called 'In search of lost time'! :) I was trying to find a book for J but the silly storepeople couldn't find it. And don't you think every bookstore should have an accessible computer that lets them check up a book/author instantly and enable them to tell customers exactly where to find a book? Such a large bookstore, and every time I wanted something queried, one of the salespeople would disappear somewhere upstairs and come back some 5 minutes later. Pathetic, that.

During one of those query sessions, I suddenly remembered Sue Townsend, the author of the absolutely hilarious Adrian Mole series. I was so excited to see around ten of those books together that I picked up two - one for SG and another for J. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have picked one of my older favourites, maybe Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh, but well, what's done is done. And then I remembered my dear love VS... and another query produced 'Collected Poems - by the author of 'A Suitable Boy'' (surprising that I couldn't find the book on amazon). Just had to buy it :) The only sad part was that it didn't have the lovely hardbound cover that I'd seen on the individual sets I'd seen at my college's library... still, I'm really, really thrilled to have bought it. I'd gone there with no intention to buy anything, the other items are all extremely overpriced anyway, but I ended up spending some 1k on the books , yet it was completely worth it :) Gifting is seriously an amazing way to make yourself happy... specially when people are overly overwhelmed by the fact that they got a gift :))

Then I went over to the food court, tried not to be tempted by the pasta menu and bought dahi puri and button idlis instead. Did some more fruitless scarf shopping and took the long bus ride home six hours later.

I love these solitudinous escapades and I'm going to miss them once I go back home :(

* * *

I've met some radical autowalas in my life (and yeah, that's saying something :D) and I met one more that day. The conversation between us went something like this:

Me (assuming standard mallu auto wala): Drop at mall, 5 mins wait at hospital?
autowala: andavadambadadam (some Mallu to be assumed)
Me: malayalam teriyadu (I don't know Malayalam)
autowala: *big grin* Where are you from?
Me: Hyderabad
autowala: Oh, you must be knowing andi, emandi
Me: *nods vigorously*
autowala: There are many autos in Hyderabad no?
Me (absently): Yeah
autowala: There are four lakh autos in Hyderabad
Me (nod at him again)
autowala: There are four thousand and one autos here
Me (smiling): Really?! Only four thousand?
autowala: Yes, yes. First only four thousand then one more added.. that is all.
autowala: What are you doing here? Studying?
Me: Yes
autowala: What are you studying?
Me: Management
autowala: And what categories in that?
Me (taken aback): Finance and marketing
autowala: Oh.. finance and marketing... good good
Me (curious now): How do you speak such good English?
autowala: *proudly* I am a B.Sc graduate in microbiology (and I'd thought maybe he'd gone to school till 10th or something)
Me: Oh! Then why are you driving an auto?
autowala: Oh.. it eez jest a hobby. I have my own clinic... we send samples to the city and I can collect it from here
Me (not quite believing the clinic story): Who runs your clinic if you're here then?
autowala: I have two lady staffs, it is now 9 years old
Me: So for how long have you been driving an auto?
autowala: For the past 5 years
Me: From where did you do your graduation?
autowala: Garden college, Bangalore
Me: Oh. How come you didn't go to the Gulf?
autowala: I went, I went to Dubai for three months. They told me they will pay me 1500 dirhams, but they paid me only 750. I said, 'Why should I stay on this much away from my family and friends when I can earn this much just by driving an auto?!', so I came back in three months only
Me: They cheat a lot of people, right?
autowala: *nods vigorously* Very bad it is. But I am happy here.
Me (curiosity coming up again): How much does an autowala earn in a month?
autowala: Aaaa, he can earn 6000 rupees easily
Me: Achcha..
autowala (interrupting): But if he is a lazy fellow he will earn only 2000-3000. And if he is verryyy hard working then he can earn 10000 also

I smiled. We discussed how bad the politics is in Kerala, the horrible autowalas in Bangalore, Hyd and Chennai and how nice the autowalas here were :D in addition to the above! This is the second autowala I've met here who spoke very decent English and claimed to drive an auto as a hobby! Another one I'd met before was a B.A. working as an LIC agent by day and autowala by night! Some extraordinary people they are.

* * *

I remember how at college we'd tease Kir about Mallus being aggressive in bed... and after seeing the huge number of adult film posters plastered along roads here, I've no doubts left.

First there was this non-adult film poster with Mammooty pointing a gun, with the film called 'Mammooty Reloaded' :D I was reminded of Keanu Reeves :D

And then this amazing adult film poster showing a woman who's in the process of taking her top off. The title of the movie was 'Topless' and guess what the tagline was...
I'm sure the audience is lining up! :P


mythalez said...

no macaroni cheese eh? :P

so didja read the golden gate of VS?

very very interesting autowalahs u got there ... a very good hobby actually .. driving an auto :P

and rofl @ reloaded :D

Sophist said...

Don't remind me. :-|

Jade said...

A microbiologist autowallah? I've heard of engineer bus conductors (thanks to the large number of useless engineering colleges in Kerala), but this is a first.

Sudha said...

And since I apparently cannot read/hear a story without saying 'you think that's bad': there are English speaking auto drivers here in Hyd, too, and even one (though there may be more!) who speak French!

Argentyne said...

eh? what macaroni cheese? Yup, had read golden gate, liked most of it but not all of it. And you're laughing at reloaded, didnt find the topless bit funny?:P

sophist, :D Sigh.. good times :D

Jade, nice to see you here! Yup, you got that right :)

Sooda, I shall not accept that, it's not possible!

mythalez said...

"Then I went over to the food court, tried not to be tempted by the pasta menu "

this is wat i was refering to :P

Argentyne said...

ah, gotchit :) Will have it next time and remember you :P

Sudha said...

Sooda, I shall not accept that, it's not possible!

Would I lie to you? *crosses heart*