Confessions of a Shopaholic


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

– Comrade John*

* – sources report that this may be a misquote.

There is a periodic fluctuation that casts its spell on me, a time when I listen to only the greats – Lennon, Clapton, Hendrix, Ozzy, David Gilmour – and grow a beard and wear crumpled up cotton kurtas and give up worldly pursuits in general. These fluctuations are like the phases of the moon, they come and go; only, they are much less capable of adhering to a schedule.

Such times test my resolve with the strongest of temptations – reading. Far too often has a summer evening gone past by when I’ve wanted to ignore the demands of a working day beckoning me in the morning and retire to the confines of my collection, reading deep into the night, and emerging from a warm blanket only when the day’s start was well past.

My sister tells me that I’m far too young to be fantasizing about retirement.

But there is a greater ailment that claws my heart. You see, I am a obsessive, compulsive, shopaholic. I buy (far) more books than I can read. I know there’s a word for this, but I’m too lazy to Google it up, don’t bother.Ever Jan, I set up an annual target on Goodreads for a *reading challenge*, and by April concede that I won’t be making it this year – but next year…

A sworn brother of my order sends me an article from a journalist whom we both adore, and I am compelled to buy the latest commentary on the “Darbar”, written by another journalist whom we both adore. A scholar of great renown shares an article on Wodehouse, and I am consumed by the nostalgia of nights spent audibly giggling over the antics of Bertie. The Hon’ Governor – राघोबा दादा -mentions Thomas Pikkety,  and I have that familiar pang of guilt of not having read “Capital” visit me yet again. I am gifted a book of travel poetry to accompany me on my latest journey, and it stares back at me from my table, accusing me of promises left half-filled. And where would I be without my love for History? Hemchandra Raychaudhari’s beautiful, cream-colored “Political History of Ancient India” with its thick, *white egg-shell* (ref.: Christian Bale in American Psycho) and the huge sheet of genealogy that folds up on the inside begs to be opened. Kaushik Basu writes a new book and it stares at me from the front lines of every book shop. Hussain Haqqani is a man that I admire, a man of learning, an intelligent man, a balanced mind – and his titles keep flooding my list, stagnant, unmoving.

And what about the literary greats? Proudly have I bought Joseph Heller’s “Something Happened” (“after all, can’t read *just* Catch-22”). But it lies dormant. Harper Lee wrote her sequel – which, thankfully, I gobbled up in time before her sad demise. Julian Barnes writes a new one, and I need to buy it. The 2015 Man Booker Winner is supposed to revolve around Bob Marley, and we can’t let that go past by, can we now? And as I search for who won the award last year, I realize that the “Narrow Road to the Deep North” evades me. We go to a book store and I try to show off (let’s face it, who doesn’t love to impress?) and the number of unread titles that I get asked about unnerves me. And God save us all when either Rowling or GRRM make the cut.

It’s a very agitating process. It gets me restless and flustered. And I mean this for real.

तोह problem क्या हैं? (Fans of Kannan and Biswa’s “Pretentious Movie Reviews” will be familiar with the import of this particular phrase).

Problem दो हैं.

One – lugging it around. And no, I’m not going to switch to a Kindle. No matter how *ergonomic* it is. अंग्रेझोन के जमाने में, bureaucrats would travel with attendants and aluminium trunks and have carriages all to themselves. Good luck to us – 21st century Babu-lok – to be able to find someone to help lug that metal abomination down the stairs and into a truck. Also, it’s adorable to think we can afford the cost of transporting something that heavy across stations.

Just joking – I think.

And two – time. Yes, I know it’s a silly excuse, and I should not be whining. But it’s true. If only I could run multiple processors in my mind. But I can’t. If I could, I would dedicate one *me* solely to the mundane task of surviving from one day to another – you know, getting up, getting ready, having meals, sleeping. The other *me*s would be dedicated to other tasks.

Like it or not, there is always going to be something else to do. Between that struggle, we will have to carve out much-needed time. And that is the cause of much agony to this shopaholic.