With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.
We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.
Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript.
The store was past its heyday. About fifteen different newspapers in english, kannada and devnagiri script were fanned across the front counter. But shelves in the store itself were all empty and in darkness. I asked the young man in Konkani if he carried a loose-leaf version of the Devi Mahatmyam. He shook his head, but still went to check. When he returned, I didn’t take no for an answer and sent him back to check if he had a regular bound copy.
Then, interestingly, he returned and asked me to proceed through the side gate into his home in the back. His father wanted to see me!
I walked through the yard and into the foyer, where an elderly women offered me a seat. An older gentleman ambled in, greeted and introduced himself and led me to the adjoining store room.
It was an old dusty room with wooden shelves. Sunlight streaked through a window and a glass pane wedged in the terracotta roof. Shelves around the room were stacked with books, many packs still wrapped in brown paper and covered in dust. These had remained undisturbed for years. He searched through the shelves and pulled a beautiful loose-leaf copy of the Devi Mahatmyam. Then as he looked on puzzled, I ransacked the place and pulled five more scriptures!
That was Mr Shyamsundar Desai tallying my bill!
An invisible hand was guiding me to his shop. The driver had to pull over to this stall; I chose to inquire persistently; then was led to the house. Destiny, Karma, call it what you may!
If you are on the back roads of Goa, look for this sign!
That was the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration.