Friday, January 04, 2013

The Book Kids of Mumbai

This made me nostalgic although it is about Mumbai and not Chennai, and although it is about pirated books and not books on resale, and although it is about children on the street rather than quite literate adults. It reminded me of my friends and fellow English grad students Kamal and Christine with whom I spent many hours competitively buying second-hand books from the pavement book sellers of Pycroft Street. And I'm thinking also of the many street sellers (I wonder if the guy at Luz corner still sells) who would take a pescribed book list and rattle off all the titles they did or didn't have.

As the lights turn red at the Haji Ali traffic intersection in Mumbai, the boy slouching against the railings quickly straightens up. Yakub Sheikh is just 12 years old, but he knows he has only 45 seconds to make some money. Holding aloft his wares, he dashes toward a black BMW and in his cracking preteen voice addresses the woman inside: “ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?”.... (Don’t tell E. L. James, but the woman in the BMW bought the entire “Fifty Shades” trilogy for the equivalent of $10.) 



Attorney at Large said...

I read this post when it was published and loved how evocative it was for you, when it was something I had no experience of. It was fun to try to imagine it.

And then I was on, looking for a book written by my great-great-grandfather -- and discovered someone in India is selling a new edition (POD).

maya said...

That's awesome! How wonderful to have that in your history, and how fun to be of this era and find it on the Internet...