Saturday, April 10, 2021

I is for Idiom Book Sellers #AtoZChallenge

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the second week of the #Blogging from A to Z  April Challenge 2021. My theme this year is based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I've put together a collage of such moments which can be seen as chance occurrences, coincidences, pre-destined or random (depending on who you ask) for this month's challenge.

Thank you.

Arti
*****

The word 'Idiom' (n), according to www.etymonline.comcomes from Greek idioma meaning "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology". 
Fowler writes that "A manifestation of the peculiar" is "the closest possible translation of the Greek word, 
from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," 
from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself."

You can find more fascinating facts about the origins of the word here: www.etymonline.com
***

The seagulls must've woken me up. I hadn't put the alarm because I didn't want to disturb the husband. We were on holiday after all. 

I was wide awake. The sky was still dark.

I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, washed my face and got dressed in the bathroom. 

"I'll see you later." I whispered to him. He groaned in his sleep. 

Equipped with my camera, I left the hotel and stepped out into the still sleeping Old Town of Cochin. 

A street cleaner was creating cloud dusts with his broom while the security guard at the entrance of the hotel looked on.

Almost as soon as I turned the corner, a fading word on a faded wall caught my eye: Idiom, it said and under it BOOKSELLERS in block letters. What a fabulous name for a book shop, I thought and clicked. I made a mental note to visit the shop.

The husband knows how I behave in bookshops. Once I enter, I don't leave. 

When I recall that quiet morning in Cochin, I smile. This was last year. It was our last holiday before Covid-19 descended upon planet Earth. On that sunny and sultry morning, I was congratulating myself for waking up early because I could explore this part of town alone, without any crowds or honking traffic.

What I thought to be precious solitude then (March 2020) started looking like stifling punishment in a matter of weeks after we left.  Silence on busy roads is so rare a commodity in India and yet just a few weeks of lockdowns had turned the same silence unworthy of want.

How fickle and transient are the flavours of time. How important than ever before is to pause and take it all in, to stand and stare and pay attention.

Come along with me while I explore the quietude of a busy city on a March morning that dawned on the right side of Covid-19.

Once upon a time, before Covid-19
joggers, walkers, cyclists
could come out all at once
and spill
without masks or restrictions.

I looked up:
Idiom
Will come back to the store
for sure
I made a mental note
and carried on
capturing
moments as hunters do.

Everywhere I looked,
on doorsteps,
on domes of cathedrals,
there were moments 
waiting mid-flight, 
in plain sight.


Scooters, bikes and cars
began displacing joggers
as I made my way back.
Morning rituals of a city, hotel surrounded me
as I sat on a bench;
sipped water, followed by tea.
I was happy to be with me.
Amber window panes paused the beginnings of the day
distorting them into treasures of fragments
and embalmed them forever.

Later that day, I went back to check out the book store. Adjusting to the darkness inside, I stepped in. Ah! There are no words to describe the feeling when you step inside a book store that has been curated/managed by a book lover.  It's a moment so precious, a feeling so blissful that I stood there in the coolness congratulating myself for sacrificing my afternoon nap to be there at that minute.

I had stumbled into an Aladdin's cave of books in Cochin. I couldn't be happier.

Lying on a table, near the exit,  was a book which was covered in clear plastic. The plastic was dusty. The artwork on the book had a haunting quality despite the dust. 

I asked the gentleman at the till if I could see the book without its cover. He nodded kindly. 

We got talking. The afternoon melted away.

I found  a few gems that I lose myself in often these days. One day, I'll tell you more about the treasures I discovered in a shop I chanced upon which lives up to its name's ideology. For now, these photos:

The spellbinding cover of 'Creation' published by Tara Books --
the one that caught my eye first.
One of the colour plates created by Badri Narayan in the book 'In worship of Shiva' published by Orient Longman Limited
Such finds, in my view, are magic--plain and inexplicable.

Leaving you with this poem I wrote inspired by the teleportational powers of a book shop.

What's a Journey?
Does it come entrapped within two bookends
of a beginning and an end
measured in time? distance? space? 
or is it just a displacement 
achieved
in a step, a moment, a lifetime?

Are all  journeys homeward bound?

Or are the homes we seek to reach
dwell hidden in plain sight :
in a book, a look, a touch, a smile?

Perhaps our journey's end is always in sight
but we walk and walk and walk
pretending to be lost
hankering to be found
despite.

*****
Are you a bookshop fiend? 
Do you miss browsing in these times of lockdowns and restrictions? 
Is your favourite bookshop still alive?
You know I'd love to hear, if you'd like to share.

Wishing you all a restful Sunday.
See you with J on Monday.
Stay safe and well.

Last year, I had explored images from my childhood which included Doordarshan, too:)

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by theblogchatter.com 

39 comments:

  1. Such an imaginative name for a bookshop. I love bookstores, but it's sad to see many of the modern ones managed mechanically. That personal connection between the employees and the books is missing. I do love book exhibitions though. My dad has a hard time keep tracking of me among the books. :D
    Beautiful pictures and an equally lovely poem.

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    1. Thank you Srivalli.
      Imagining you and your dad in a book fair and smiling:)

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  2. What a lovely walk in the sleeping city, those cats are fun! A great name for a bookshop!

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  3. I miss browsing in bookstores so much! I haven't done it for months. And it is my favorite part of visiting new cities and foreign countries... can't wait to do it again!

    The Multicolored Diary

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  4. Wow, to see any street in India that free it had the year 2020 I guess or that hour of the day!
    Lovely name for a book store indeed. Book a Coffee - was a name of a Book Cafe'( Bookstore +Coffee shop)in this beautiful film called Listen Amaya, I had found it interesting & it stayed with me. My sister was the bookworm between the two of us and she loved buying books from Mumbai streets near flora fountain,in VT & one in Maheshwari Udayan, Matunga. From Academics to Cookery to Philosophy to Politics everything was quite literally sold under the sun. The best part of these stores was we could donate books to them especially the academics one which we couldn't pass on to any younger cousins in the family or neighborhood. Later on Cross Words and Granth -book stores became more popular, but these basic road side ones are my favorites too. If I had owned one, I would have called it Under the Sun!

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    1. I'm going to look for this film Vidya. Thank you for the recommendation.

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  5. How well you mix narrative prose and poetry dotted with lovely pictures. Here from AtoZ https://poojapriyamvada.blogspot.com/2021/04/iktsuarpok-newnormal-a2z.html

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  6. Lovely locality. Nice name for a bookshop too. Nothing like spending time with books!

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  7. Hari Om
    Introspective and Inspirational post, Arti!!! Such gorgeous photos and words to linger among... doesn't get much better, does it? YAM xx

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  8. I too miss browsing throgh bookstores. Also libraries.

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  9. Idiom book sellers, loved this name a lot. Book stores are love, one can keep on browsing endless books for hours. Thanks for sharing the images filled with moments.

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  10. Lovely pictures again and an interesting shop. I'm looking forward to being able to browse round a book shop again when they re-open!
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/10/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-i/

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    1. I can't wait to do the same and visit a library.

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  11. What a fabulous love letter to a wonderful time/place. I SO love your words: "How fickle and transient are the flavours of time." They fit so perfectly in my mind! Your photos are fabulous, and the one with the cats all lined up on their proper steps makes me laugh. But, oh, Idiom bookstore! I literally swoon at such finds. I have the Creation book - Tara Books publishes some fabulous treasures. The illustration you posted from In Worship of Shiva is absolutely gorgeous as well. A lovely find indeed.

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    1. Thank you Deborah:)
      We exchanged notes and swoons over Tara books during last year's A to Z.
      You'll love the other colour plates in the Shiva book. Check out Badri Narayan and his art when you have time. I've a feeling you'll like his work.

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  12. Your blog is amazing, but I am in love with the pictures as much. I love books and I am very possesive of them, but unfortunately due to convenient of reading when my daughter is sleeping, I moved on to e-books. How I miss that touch and flavour...You filled me with a desire to visit a book store tomorrow.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for leaving such a lovely comment.
      I hope you are able to visit a book store in the near future.
      I'm unable to visit your blog via your link above. Please leave a link if you do visit again.

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  13. Such beautiful pictures and memories of what sounds like a perfect morning. While I enjoy bookstores, I am more apt to get lost in a craft store. It is where I see endless possibilities. Glad your return visit to Idiom lived up to your hopes.Weekends In Maine

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    1. Yes, I'm glad too. Sometimes, stores don't live up to our imaginations;)

      I can totally imagine you losing yourself for hours in craft stores Karen.
      BTW, loved your fabric tape in your 'I' post.

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  14. Wonderful post and pictures. I got a hint of Cochin thanks to you...so true fickle and transient flavors! I love book stores and libraries a tad more. I remember an old library in the basement of a church where I would spend hours browsing and pulling out books from shelves covered in layers of dust , cobwebs delicately lacing them...aah those were the days..

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    1. Ooh! That picture you painted of the church library is what my reading dreams are made of. Thank you for sharing:)

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  15. Arti, what a beautiful post. I love bookshops. Idiom is such an apt name for a bookshop. I have never been to Kochi and your beautiful pictures have given me more reasons to do so now.

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    1. I'm happy you could travel via these pics dear Sunday visitor:)

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  16. A delightful post. My last holiday adventure started off in Cochin, a place that made a lasting impression on me.

    One of the things I most love about bookskops is the smell! Is that odd? At last, non-essential shops in the UK open again tomorrow, and I live in an appartment above a used book shop. I'll be popping down first thing!

    Here's my I!

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    1. I love bookshop smells too:)

      Hope you manged to visit the book shop. And how lucky are you to live above one! I envy you.

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  17. Lovely post, Arti! Reminded me of our very memorable but very short visit to the Cochin old town and the walk around those wonderful old houses and the cathedral.

    My hometown in India had these 2 bookshops that stood apart from the average booksellers. The shops were owned and run by two brothers who came from a literary family. Their father was a celebrated amd much quoted poet in my language. Both the brothers carved their niche in this small town, had their own devoted clientele. One of them was called 'Lokmilap' (translation: a meeting place for people). That place was a wonderland for us as they sold quality children's literature as well as books for grown ups, both in Gujarati and English. You would always get a warm welcome there and they would go out of their way to procure a book for you or recommend one if you're not sure about a title. This was in the pre-Google days when you depended on a book review or a recommendation before your purchase. They had their own publications as well. This place was synonymous with quality reading materials and warm and personalised service by 3 generations of the Meghani family. Unfortunately, they closed doors in January 2020 after almost 7 decades. This homely little bookshop meant a lot to thousands of people and we still talk fondly about the place.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your favourite book store with me Ruchita.
      You took me along with you with your words.

      I so wish there's a way to bring these 'meeting places' back to life. Experiences such as the ones you describe can never be replicated by clicking a button to order books delivered to the door.

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  18. These photos are so good. I love hunting for bargains in second-hand bookshops.

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    1. I love the smell of second hand bookshops:)

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  19. Oh Arti... I am going to always remember these lines of yours
    "Or are the homes we seek to reach
    dwell hidden in plain sight :
    in a book, a look, a touch, a smile?"

    My favourite book shop is the one I used to go to as a child holding my father's hand... My first ever introduction to the world of books. A quaint little book store called as Walden in Hyderabad... I still remember its book covered alleys and how I used to get lost in them... Till my first job in that city. But life happened and time fled on wheels... and one fine day that is just after covid struck some old friend of mine messaged that the book store is now closed... Forever... And will be soon converted to an office space.And that's how Walden slipped into some crevice of my memory now :)

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    1. Thank you for appreciating my lines dear Ira.
      Coming from a poetess such as you, I take is as high praise, gracefully:)

      Walden lives on in your memory...please write about the bookstore and preserve its beauty in your words.

      When I hear of old book shops closing, I feel that as a race, we are moving away from something beautiful.

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  20. Wow.. Wonderful write up and poem.. I am missing going to bookstores..

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