Sunday, February 17, 2008

Right here!

No, I haven't forgotten you, my dears. The thing is that I'm just not coping very well with being back at work. The sunshine of the last six months has transformed into too many bright lights and smiling customers — both of which I am not entirely equipped to handle. I spend the whole day in the office or at the store, not knowing when afternoon has flown to dusk. To help things along, I am in Chennai. Without the first idea about when I'm headed back to Bombay. This is, most certainly, depressing me at least a little. The experience would be much easier if I spoke the language, I am sure, but I've had six days of being ranted at (and fleeced by!) by rick drivers and of suffering the irritation of continually being excluded from conversations.

But that apart, there are at least a few upshots of being here — the breathtakingly fabulous discount racks, both books and music. Whatever little money I have left after this break teaches me a new way to watch it dance away in gleeful delight everyday. One day it's the music and the other, it's all browsing the best buys instead of continuing with the racking. My colleagues threaten to show me the returns books (books that have remained unsold for between 6-12 months and will be sent back to the distributors for the cost price). This way, apparently, everyone's happy but I, though, have no clue how!! But the greatest reward of the past 10 days? That I know that we're not as badly read as I'd imagined. Can't tell you how heartening that is, don't you know.

But there there's so much pending — the ex-reviewer's first incredibly wonderful concert, the One Tree Music Festival (in Bombay and Chennai both!), a performance by a jazz band, observations about books, publishing, and book-selling and so, so many photos! Between washing clothes by hand, cooking, and trying to keep up with the endless tide of information from a new industry, I don't think I'm doing such a good job of managing. In the middle of being taught some software and the supply chain in the organization, I start chasing words and arrange them into sentences that I assuredly forget later. I'm hoping things will be better this week onwards but why I would imagine that, I don't know though. :-)

That's the ex-reviewer at Kala Ghoda. A proper post with more pictures will follow but let me leave you with something.

The Ex Reviewer at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

That time of Life

Right then, my dears, I'm going back to work.

After seven months, to the day actually, of living a fuller life, I'm finally re-joining the ranks of the "gainfully employed". And totally unsurprisingly, the only person who's completely excited about this is my father. The poor man's had visions of his only daughter going down the idle poor road, you see. Once every month since I've been on a break, my father's asked me gently, but very diligently, what my plans were. No words like work or employment or job, don't you know. Dad is nothing if not sensitive and supportive. And yet every month, I'd smile beatifically at him and say "I haven't the faintest clue!" At one point I think he wondered if I ever planned on getting back to work.

The elder sibling says he will appreciate not having me underfoot all day with my "whining" and being a drain on all his resources. But personally, I think he'll miss me because not only does he utterly adore my company, he also won't have a peon anymore! The mother will generally miss me a little but the one person who's most certainly not going to miss me is M, who works in my home. I won't be dragging the sofas and chairs all over the place and enlisting her help to dust all the books for at least a month now.

To say that I am excited about the new job is a whole new acme of understatement. I finally have a job that I want, one that I am not embarrassed about, bordering on being ashamed of. I won't mumble while telling people about being intimately involved with running a bookstore, one of my very favourites places. I'll finally be realizing at least a part of my long-cherished publishing dream. So what if the execution won't be from within but from without? But I must admit, as hugely thrilling as being a book merchandiser is, I am more than a little sad about losing this break, this buttery, feathery independence. You see, there are few things as deeply saddening as not being able to ride into town on a whim for a beer at Mondy's. No, no, please don't state the obvious. The wonder of it is being able to do this at 3 p.m on a Wednesday when every other person you know, except the ex-reviewer, is working AND swearing at you when you call to say hello.

And you would have thought that my last two weeks would have been even more molasses-y. Time would have passed even more deliciously. I would have posted more, seen more of Bombay, drunk more beer, watched most of the 120 GB of films I brought back from Bangalore. Life has a way, I tell you. Like this cat outside the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Fort, I should have been sunning myself in the unnatural cold Bombay's been experiencing. Instead, I was hunched over my keyboard frantically finishing a last-minute freelance project. Life just has a bloody way that just bloody tears it!

Sour Puss

In all the hunching, the Kala Ghoda Festival came and is almost gone. It seems to have been quite an experience, being run as an arts, music, film, literature, and children's festival this year. And I've missed most of it. All's not lost yet because in some rather excellent news, the ex-reviewer is performing at the Kala Ghoda Music Festival. I was at the festival this afternoon, looking through the schedule next to the main stage for his name. And even though I knew that I'd find it, I do not think I can describe the overwhelming pride at actually seeing his name on that large, black schedule.

The ex-reviewer's solo act is called Dischordian and will be playing between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m on Sunday the 10th of February at the Kala Ghoda Amphitheater. Come and watch him. I am not just biased but he really is a wonderful, wonderful musician who's experimenting with a new kind of sound, especially in our musically retarded and time-warped country. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll enjoy yourself.