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
Finally, I visited one of the many Shiva temples: