The Waiting Game
And the patience of bookstores.
Recently, I’ve had a surge of email subscribers to this little newsletter of mine and I want to take a moment to welcome them all. Thank you for joining this journey with me. I hope you find some value here, however small.
Since the last few months, I’ve been alluding to something big, something that I’ve been working toward. It’s been almost a year since I started the work and I’m on the cusp of it turning into a reality. But I’m not yet ready to proclaim it, not yet. While we live in an era of manifestation, I come from a generation where we believed in not jinxing things by talking about it. So I’m going to stop now, other than saying that hopefully, all will be revealed in the next two newsletters.
But while these things fall in line, I’ve been waiting, or learning to wait. Usually, I’d say patience is my strong suite. You can’t (ghost) write books without a strong dose of patience. Any writing in general requires it. But that’s one type of patience, the type that knows you’re making steady, if slow, progress, the type that knows what you’re doing is borne out of love, the type that soothes the ugly head of impatience that rears up from time to time by focusing on the big picture.
What I’ve discovered though is that there are other types of patience. The kind you maintain when you’re sick and waiting in the queue outside the doctor’s office, and you don’t cut the line because you don’t place your discomfort or life over someone else’s. There is another kind of patience when you sit with a student, someone who is not able to grasp the subject you’re trying to teach, so you break it down into the smallest parts possible, which requires tremendous brain power, effort and time, but you do it because somewhere in the past a teacher sat with you and helped you overcome your own block. Then there is the kind of patience you need to look for a word by not looking for it, spending months, years even, living your life until on an unsuspecting Tuesday afternoon, you stumble on the word coming from an unlikely source—somehow usually from someone whose politics you don’t respect—and you run to fill in that word in your story so it is one step closer to completion.
There is one thread of similarity in these types of patience. You have, in a manner of speaking, some control over the situation. You’re choosing it, and that makes all the difference. But how do you maintain patience when the choice is not yours to make?
That’s where I am right now, playing the waiting game for things to happen as per plan. I’m hopeful. I’m going through the motions of preparations of when it does. But at the back of my mind, the clock is ticking. My subconscious mind is shaking his subconscious leg. I’m trying my hardest to keep it under wraps, channelling it in all the right (and sometimes wrong) places.
Yet, I have to wait it out. There is no choice here. And that’s what makes waiting so darn difficult.
One of the things I like to do (usually while I wait) is match people to books. I do this often, and it’s best done in a bookstores. Lately, I’ve found that most bookstore are full of commercial best sellers and big name authors. They are supremely boring and playing my matching game is no fun. But in my quest to find better books and newer authors to read, I’ve discovered a bunch of indie book stores in India that have taken my heart. Here, I’m recommending a few of them that I’ve personally found useful.
This place is love. I’m so scared of going to this bookstore—I’m always worried I’ll empty my bank account here. The place is so welcoming, and the owners Ahalya and Meethil are friendly, helpful and ever present. They are the bookshop, as much as the bookshop is them. The book curation is spot on, with little post it notes from all the people that love the place to book recommendations. The upstairs section also doubles as a library with a great number of books that you can borrow, read, and return. The place has a warmth unlike any I’ve seen in Bombay and when you go to the bookstore (which is hidden and tucked away), you’ll find your phone losing network as you enter a wonderland all of your own.
My partner took me here recently on a brief visit to Delhi and as soon as we entered the bookshop, we were served two glasses of water. I was a little taken aback but welcomed the cool drink, especially in the summer. The place was newly done and many of the bookshelves were sitting empty, bursting with potential. But the shelves that held books told a story of its own—this place loved to curate books that were not normally found. These were not just your best sellers, these were books-books, the kind you’ll find in a reader’s collection. We spent hours there and I found many of my favourites and many other books that I did not know I wanted but met and realised I needed them in my life. There were even a couple of books I wanted, but didn’t pick up that time and now I can’t find them anywhere. So, please, don’t be like me, go to the book store and buy them all. Don’t hesitate.
Ps: They also have some great events taking place and if you want to be a part of the writing/publishing industry in India, it’ll behoove you to visit them.
I found this bookstore through Soumya John, who publishes zines. Her zines are (or were) available at Champaca, and I took notice instantly. If a bookstore is selling zines, that means they are actually talking to people and not just looking at data (or the lack of it), right? Right. Champaca’s Instagram page has a great vibe where they share new books all the time—not your usual best sellers, but what they are reading themselves. Also, they have an online ordering system through which you can order books across India. I’ve started resorting to this rather than buying from Amazon. I’d rather give my money to indie places who are doing such a fabulous job. They send out all online ordered books on Tuesdays and Fridays and if you time it right, you’ll receive your book within a day, maybe two. It’s almost as fast as Amazon, and you’re helping the indie market thrive at the same time. Win-win.
Of course, there are many other book stores out there, many I don’t know of, many hidden gems. Do you know any of them? Drop them in the comments below for everyone to know.
While I’m not very big on audio books (I have enough voices in my head to consider adding another outside it), my friend Chandrima’s new story is turned into an audio book on Audible. I may not be big on the format, but I trust Chandrima’s words. If you’re looking for dark, twisted thriller and horror from India in audio format, check out her new audio book — Twisted.
And if you, dear friend, have any work updates, let me know. I’d love to read them, watch them and, of course, talk about them everywhere.
Words to leave you with:
Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything.
By Rainer Maria Rilke
You’re reading a newsletter by Akshay Gajria. This newsletter is delivered to your inbox on the 30th of every month. You can also find him on Twitter, Instagram and Medium. If you found what you read helpful, you can consider tipping him by buying a cup of tea (or three) here or buying his ebook (linked below). You can discover his work at akshaygajria.com