Thursday, November 28, 2013

So I met this handsome bookseller...

Last night, I bought this book in an Islamabad old books shop for Pkr 595 (Php 250) in one of the many book shops scattered all over the city. For a nation that claims they do not like to read over much, they sure have a lot of bookstores. This particular bookshop though had a certain asset to it that very few bookshops nowadays can boast of -- a bookseller who apparently reads books.

It helped he was a denim-clad, lion-haired, bollywood handsome young man with a fantastic smile. Upon entering his shop, an unusual conversation started --- unusual in the light of me not able ti imagine having a similar conversation at my local Booksale outlet in SM Fairview or any of the National Bookstores.

Book guy (BG): I am glad you put down that book (referring to a bootleg copy of Dan Brown's Inferno I picked up only to check if it was indeed bootleg), it's a lot of talk, but not really good, eh?

Me (trying to stay distant and still digesting the fact that apparently, cute guys do read): Yeah.

BG: Are you looking for any particular book?

Me: No, thanks. I'm just here to browse. (Sungit.)

BG: Alright, hope you find a good one. pocketbooks are on this aisle, hardcovers are at the back! (said with a winsome smile)

Me: A nod and the kind of small smile similar to what you give people on the streets trying to give you their brochures.

After 15 minutes, my colleague came in and I was pressured to wrap it up, so I just decided to buy a hardcover on the Romantic Poets. Approached the book guy and told him I am making this purchase.

BG: Wait, there is another brilliant book on this topic! Let me find it.

He jumps up and after getting his bearings, made a beeline for a pile of books among a dozen piles of books and started rummaging. And I wasn't expecting him to find it, not within a reasonable amount of time. So I started making noises about it's okay, he shouldn't bother.. but even before I could get really into my dismissal, he amazingly found the book he was referring to!

BG: You see, it's a critique of the poets, so maybe after reading this book (the poetry), you could read this one to explain things a bit more. I read a bit of these poetry too, and I found this helpful. But I am not English, so maybe that's why. (I paraphrase a bit, can't really remember his choice of words, though the meaning is clear)

Me: (something inane) Yeah, but I don't like being told what to think of poetry. (which is not true, because I need all the help I can get when reading poetry) and even said something about My mother doing the analysis for me. (a. my mother is dead, b. my mother never read poetry in her life.)

Sigh. I don't know why I say these things. White lies you give to overeager salespeople, but i believe I actually came across a rare breed of bookseller here, and i felt bad because he just looked genuinely happy to help.

The truth of the matter is, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I only bought the book because it was pretty and will make a great souvenir. Though I enjoy reading my Percy and Shelley and Blythe occasionally, I am not completely excited about reading a dissertation on the formulation of their couplets and quatrains.I was completely checkmated.

But thank you, handsome bookseller for giving me a story to remember every time I see this book. I am happy to know your whole species has not yet gone extinct.