Thursday, July 9, 2009

Solo Trip in India

Today I ventured out of the hotel. To another hotel. The ladies recommended Leela Palace as a place where I could be safe on my own and spend several hours. And dollars. There’s a mall there. I’ve never been a super big shopper, and since I gave up my job I traded in my bi-monthly trips to Ann Taylor Loft for visits to the library. But I ventured into the Galleria, to see it, to kill time, and to maybe shop.

I circled the first floor and saw shops with rows and rows of fabric. The colors and patterns popped out so much I could even sense their feel from the other side of the glass windows – the smoothness, the swirls of silk, slippery. I waltzed past these shops, afraid – of spending money, not knowing what to order, or how to haggle – even as a man in a green T-shirt standing at the threshold of his store offered me, "Please, take a look." I didn’t even respond to him, just looked away – down even, not forward.

I turned the bend and then in bright, yet soft, blue and white letters I saw the sign. I sucked in my breath. I saw rows and rows of them, upright, packed in tight, behaving, beckoning. Books.

I asked the bookseller for recommendations on books written by female Indian authors. He went to the front display and bestseller section and handed me book after book. I declined to buy anything I knew I could get in the US. I told him I was a writer and I was interested in India’s version of contemporary women’s fiction – stories about love and life and self-identity. We ventured a bit from that criteria (although he did attempt to sell me Love Story, it’s apparently very popular there) and here’s what I ended up with:
  • Almost Single by Advaita Kala
  • The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
  • First Love by Brinda Charry
  • The Argumentative Indian: Writings on India Culture, History and Identity by Amartya Sen
  • Multiple City: Writings on Bangalore, edited by Aditi De
  • The 24 X 7 Marriage, Smart Strategies for Good Beginnings by Vijay Nagaswami
Books are very cheap here. On average, about $5 for a trade paperback. After lunch (Indian buffet, where the waiter told me they could also make me pizza – I declined – and where I had some of the best tiramisu ever) I went to a music store and asked for recommendations on CDs ($4) of popular Indian dance music. I bought The Power of Bhangra (closest thing to hip-hop) and Everyone On Dance Floor (no the), Level 7.

Finally, I visited one of the many Shiva temples:


  1. A girl after my own heart – seeking out bookshops in foreign places. Of course! Glad to hear you’re having a great time and enjoying the local finds. Keep us posted and have fun.

    Lori A. May

  2. Cool day...books, music, and an awesome-looking Shiva temple. Nice!