A couple of days ago, I was waiting at the Gemini Flyover (now called Anna Flyover - a landmark location in Chennai) signal. The countdown was a slow progress...60, 59, 58...and I looked around, as always, trying to soak in the motion picture on either side of my vehicle. When I turned to my right, I noticed a fifty-ish man seated in the front in a chauffeur driven car, reverentially holding an open copy of The Power of Now. He seemed totally oblivious to the vehicles around him and continued to read without looking up even when the last 10-seconds for the green light caused a significant increase in decibel level. I continued to watch him curiously and smiled at the concentration so wholly appropriate for such a wonderful book.
The vehicles made a furious dash at the switch to green and in barely a few seconds, I was crossing the side road that leads to the hallowed entrance of Landmark, Nungambakkam - my favourite parking place outside the home. I resisted the urge to turn and continued straight on Nungambakkam High Road reminiscing. Last week at Landmark, I spent a number of minutes at the new arrivals section happily browsing The Wisdom of Crowds when someone pushed me aside and thrust a bulky hand overadorned in gold bangles past me to the rack that had yet another Da Vinci Code book. I heard loud Telugu chatter behind me and the only word I could make out was 'Da Vinci'. I was a bit annoyed to be rudely interrupted by the bulky woman who now filled my vision in bright yellow and red Kanjeevaram (ok that's jargon. Kanjeevaram is a sari weave famous in Tamil Nadu. For a more elaborate description, go here). I was forced to turn behind, only to catch sight of two old men in pristine white panchakacham and white kurta. The men were urging the woman to pick up any Da Vinci code book that she could find. I was starting to get curious by now and diverted my attention to the study of the wisdom of this crowd.
I found that the family had more representation in Landmark in the form of two more men both clad in regular dhothi and shirt and three women all in bright and grand saris. I heard more 'Da Vinci' along with Telugu babble. It looked like they were collecting books that had anything to do with Da Vinci or cracking the code or Dan Brown. I also heard a female name being mentioned - Brinda or Priya - and I imagined a pampered young woman who had sent her entire family on a Da Vinci book hunt. I moved to the Literature section in the far corner of the store for some peace and quiet. I hovered near the Umberto Eco collection, eagerly fingering Foucault's Pendulum and fighting the temptation to add it to the shopping basket. A few minutes of intense focus on the book is all I could manage before the Da Vinci brigade attacked again. They were looking for Da Vinci books in the Literature section as well! Need I say that I made a hasty march to the checkout counter?
Funnily, when I tried adding a wiki link above for Umberto Eco, the description had this quote for Foucault's Pendulum - "the thinking man's The Da Vinci Code". Now that's what I call an eerie coincidence. Hmm...maybe the brigade did come to the Lit. area to look for Foucault's Pendulum! Whatever they came for, it was an amusing scene - eight people in traditional Indian wedding attire, combing every rack in Landmark for Da Vinci books!
I just started on William Butler Yeats' biography by Terence Brown. I hope to be wiser about Irish Nationalism soon.