Thursday, 6 February 2020

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café

The ceiling-high bookshelves
I was in Goa last month with a family friend of ours. Just like any tourist or person who wants to visit Goa, I was excited about the blue beaches, dipping sunsets at the horizons, the sand caressing my feet and most of all the Beer. Well, let’s be honest, who can ignore a good pint of beer watching the waves while your child for once has his attention drifted from you, busy with sand trying to make castles. Mumma bliss, I call it. And so for the first two days, it was about the typical Goa things to do list- sun, sand and beach. But here is what was different this time when I visited this place of busyness and oomph. I am an avid reader, a book blogger and I daydream about my book café- all the time! So when I walk into one I imagine the kind of stuff I’d like to keep and arrange in it. I was adamant to visit this book café in Goa which I had found out on Google. My friends teased me but well I am accustomed to such jokes, they wanted a good coffee and I bargained them into it, only to know later- we didn’t have our coffee! But, like good humans, they accompanied me to the café. The Literati book café had a sprawling lawn and was spread on a magnificent area of land. My happiness knew no leaps and bounds when I entered the book café. Ceiling high bookshelves beckoning me to check them out. Drowned in a sepia tone, it looked vintage giving me the thrill of having time travelled. When I looked at the shelves I spotted some new releases; it was like a pinch on my arm to tell me- “you aren’t dreaming or have time travelled. Take a look outside and you’d find your son playing on the grass kicking his feet. It is for real”. I really did take a peek before getting back to browsing the shelves (just mom things!).

For the book which I spotted as “read” I felt happy and for the ones I hadn’t read, I felt anxious. I found a copy of ‘Grief is the thing with feathers’ by Max Porter gorgeously priced, it was hard to not pick this one up for myself. Just then the owner came in- Divya Kapur, a very smart female with a head of cropped white hair, her spectacles placed on her head and flashing a smile. I spoke to her, bragged about me being a book blogger (sometimes you got to sell it, fella’s!) which I am sure she was not interested in (haha!) and asked her about the café, it's running, the business and lastly if she would recommend me her choice of books and something which captures Goa’s interesting history and tradition. She got to the job of finding books for me immediately asking me questions about books and authors. I bought all the books on her recommendation, except for the Max Porter book. If there is something I have learned as a voracious reader in the last few years is coming out of the comfort zone. I have found immense beauties that I carry in my heart, by just exploring new authors and their work. Divya Kapur, the owner herself came out to me as a passionate reader. And when readers recommend, other readers keep themselves alert with standing ears. ‘Skin’ by Margaret Mascarenhas was her choice for me on Goa history. The other two- ‘Mister Pip’ by Lloyd Jones and ‘The Moon and Sixpence’ by Maugham are her personal favourites. I will not lie, I did burn a hole in my pocket with this book haul but I think it was all worth it. It is my way of contributing to an independent bookstore. The postcards that I brought with me from this bookshop café are a remembrance, they give me hope of going there again or to a similar book café. My quest for spotting good ones doesn’t end here. I would like to say, it’s just the beginning.

It might seem like I went a little poetic with my words above, writing about this book café. It is so because I hold a tender fondness for the people who own and run these cafes. Maybe because I see myself in them at some point in time, my inquisitiveness never giving up. I feel like I want to know it all. Talking with them fills me with a will, a ray of hope that someday, just like Divya I will guide a reader in my bookshop, recommending the books of her choice or maybe mine. Dreams are what drive us. And when you find such driving forces, look at it as the wind beneath your wings whispering in your ears- You will get there.

I will.

Amongst other things, Goa was special this time around too. New memories and new incidents to remember the place by.

A very happy "Me" in my natural habitat
Sharing my two cents here about something I feel strongly about- On your travels, look for places you find comfort in. It could be a bookshop, an artwork boutique, an old coffee shop or a music soirée. Not only because they are your happy places but because you might learn a new fact about them or find something rare that’d tug at your heart. Maybe bring back memorabilia of the place. We all google a lot while planning our travels, watching vlogs and reading blogs about the place we are to visit. Why not keep a comfort place handy to drop by. Who knows your happy place might just be a few blocks away from your hotel.

Happy Wandering and Happy reading!

Google maps will guide you perfectly to this lovely book café but still putting down the address below:
E-1/282, Near ABC Farms Beach Resort, Gauravaddo, Calangute, Goa

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Mahfouz's words are surreal. The Quarter, a window to his work asking you to explore more- Book Review and Musings.

The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz comprises stories from the quarter understood as a small section or community of people. These stories have a pattern, precisely they have a similarity. They trail off like dialogues in a conversation when one’s mind goes numb, or they don’t know what’s to be said next etcetera. You never come to know their conclusions, aftermath or end; like conversations left midway. I personally do not like such situations, they leave me more anxious and dubious about the whole “thing”. Hence, my experience with The Quarter was no different. What was left with me after I finished the book was the Atmosphere that formed the base for it. It took me to Cairo, amidst people and their conventional society. What the stories failed to do was leave a lasting impression. Short stories can be very tricky that way. But I got glimpses of Mahfouz’s element of writing, though not in full glory but a slight glimmer; Mystique and metaphorical, enough to tell me to read and explore his work as I hear he is a stellar storyteller.

It is said that this collection, The Quarter was found in Mahfouz’s drawer after his death and before it was published, so one can only assume and frame their imaginations around it; if these stories are incomplete or if they were bound to be so. Something to think about.

My Rating:

Thank you to the publisher Panmacmillanindia for the review copy.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Such a fun age by Kiley Reid is a quick and "food for thought" book, channeling your inner self to question privileges- Book review.

My interest in the book was sparked when @reesesbookclub chose it as their book of the month and I have to admit that it is one of those engaging books that perplex you. The processing of ideas and the formation of viewpoints in the reader’s mind are rapid when it should actually be reflective. The rapidness comes from smooth writing and a moving plot. Kiley Reid’s writing is clever.

Emira Tucker is A twenty-five year old black babysitter with no real job and health insurance of her own. In the hope of earning some money and because of her fondness towards baby Briar, she is making do with the situation at her employers who are keen to accept her as family. The turn of events however compel her to leave. I am not going to dwell on the plot, instead would like to move the flashlight to the factualness in the prose. How some crucial themes have been inserted in the content with respect to racism, human behaviour and societal show business. With a very casual approach, Reid slips in racism and that is what infuses the interest further. How different and difficult can the repercussions of someone’s actions be! I misconstrued the character of Emira as daft. Her voice being tried to muffled down by her expressions as explained. It inevitably made me compare her to Ifemelu from Americanah. Her opinionated speech and voice was what I missed here and really wanted to be shone. The juxtaposition of these two images was with me until the end of the book. I missed the character depth that could have brought if she was given a more solid voice. But then what would have made her character stand out? Wouldn’t she be another Ifem? Upon reflective thinking, she comes across as a humble and matured person who was always and foremost concerned about the child whom she adored, Briar. Caught in flashbacks of high school drama, old love sparks and revenge is Emira, coming out nonchalant and unscathed.

I’d recommend it for how it is presented and authored. It was something new that I read in a while. The phrase “food for thought” applies adeptly here. The book is fast-paced, gives a lot of debating points and keeps up with the momentum of interest.

My rating:

Thank you to the publisher Bloomsburyindia for the review copy.

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...