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#2 : A letter to the nosy stranger

Dear Stranger,

Thank you for disturbing me while I was busy being drowned in a sea of emotions. You gave me the much needed helping hand to pull through. After all, reading an interesting book in a public space is a mortal sin isn’t it? Especially, if it is on an electronic reader, it is a blasphemy isn’t it? I confess to my sin of using an electronic reader. I know paperbacks are akin to holy grail and the fancy digital readers are nothing short of being  Satan.

I also know it’s ‘un’-cool to read books by ‘obscure’ writers who know their way around the English language – A language which we seem to have adopted as our own. It would be prudent to show it some motherly love and infuse it with words and rules from our tongue, wouldn’t it?

 I know I have sinned but please do hear me out.

Being the only kid back then, my mom had to find a way to keep me entertained until my sister was born. Sadly, like other lucky kids of my age, I didn’t have a bunch of kids who lived nearby and could play with me. She resorted to the only way that she could think of – introduce me to books and ensure a constant supply of them. Being the lazy goose that I was, I found reading to be total fun. Comics and short stories transported me to a different world without actually having to travel.

That habit stuck to me and I grew up reading even after I found company. You see, for people like me the reading is pretty addictive. Don’t blame me, it’s in my genes. My grandfather was a voracious reader and an equally talented writer. He seemed to have passed on his traits to me through my mum. I devoured book after book – all paperbacks and hardcovers – most of them from my local lending library, some of them from my school library and the rest,borrowed from my friends. You see, we weren’t really financially well off to buy and stock up books. Moreover, the books that I read almost always were expensive. Back then, I didn’t have Chetan Bhagat or the likes. However, I did have ( and still do) Enid Blyton, Ruskin Bond, Carolyn Keene, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie who managed to keep the likes of me occupied with simple yet intriguing stories. Oh yes, we also did have a couple of Indians on the list – RK Narayan and Vikram Seth, . I’m sure you would have heard of the latter. After all, his choice of sexuality would have caught your attention more than his books would have.

The addiction of  devouring paperbacks stuck to me till I graduated from college. Of course, like the occasional smoker, I still do pleasure myself  with a couple of paperbacks per month. I started travelling for work and couldn’t afford to carry books. Thankfully by then, the era of internet took over. This opened up the world literally for me. The restriction of having to read what the library stocked was no longer in place. With digitization I could devour stories by writers from other end of the world. You see, the cost of shipping a paperback to and from our country does burn a hole financially. Digitization seemed to be the perfect win-win solution. I started reading books by writers from all over the world. As a direct consequence of reading books from various part of the world, my thought process improved. I was never after the “best sellers”. That ideology of mine became more rooted ever since I read some fine piece of writing by people who never made it to the best seller list. Oh and yes, I also discovered some brilliant “INDIAN” writers who write just more than the Bollywood style masala stuff infused with local language. I discovered stories by Indians who actually respect the English language.

Now there, don’t try to interrupt me to debate about the language, that’s for a different day. I’m already exhausted by conversing with you, I badly need to go back to the story.

Please do yourself and the world a favor. Never disturb a person who is reading a book and do keep your ‘humble’ opinions to yourself. We all have opinions and this is mine.

Yours Sincerely,

A True-blue bibliophile

NOTE:

This post is a transcript of sorts of an actual conversation that happened between me and an obnoxious stranger. If you are offended by this post, please do live with it. I do understand that everybody is entitled to their opinion, so yes, which obviously means I am too and this is my opinion.