Of Smells And Secondhand Books

I’ve constantly marvelled at how everything in life (situations, routine, people, objects) can take on a new meaning when you look at things from a different perspective. Or atleast it makes you consider them in a whole new light, and realise that they might not be what you thought them to be. I had a moment like that, recently.

A few weeks ago, before putting down a book that I had been reading, I felt like smelling it. I don’t know if that sounds weird but it’s quite normal for me. So much so that my sister’s grown used to the sight of me sniffing a book at random moments. Anyway, just as I was savouring the ‘scent’, a thought struck me. What did that smell contain?

I’ve always loved the smell of books, and have a special fascination for that of old and secondhand ones (the book in question was a secondhand copy). But I had never thought of why, or what the smell might be made up of. Until this particular instance, of course. So, there I was, wondering what made a pre-owned book smell so otherworldly.

Perhaps, it’s all the hands that have touched the pages, the thoughts of previous owners and readers…a captivating blend of all the minds that have pored over it. Think of the memories and experiences a book could talk of, but can only exude through its touch and smell! Crazy as it sounds, the idea made books and their smells seem all the more charming to me. I realise I might be letting my imagination run a little too wild, but then, that’s just how I am (if you’re done with my rambling and want an actual, scientific explanation, check this out).

Almost every time I pick up a secondhand book, I wonder about the last person who had/read the book, what they thought about it and why they let go of it. Even bookstores selling used books evoke the same feeling in me. The cramped spaces and shelves overflowing with books make me wonder about the stories hidden under layers of dust. With all those tales, characters and the sheer magic of adventures (all waiting to be read) floating in the air, is it any surprise these places smell so special? Sometimes I fantasise that, maybe, if I listen carefully, I might even hear the soft rustling of books vying for attention — “pick me, hold me, read me”.

This post was partly inspired by the line ‘Try me. Test Me. Taste Me.’ from Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and partly by the secondhand bookstores I so loved and frequented (and now miss like hell!) in Bangalore.  

Someone And Me

 

I always have weird moments of revelation. Like, one moment of sudden clarity and I see something I’ve been overlooking.

I came across (more like stumbled across) someone. I don’t want to say someone ‘special’ because that would be so cliché. Special is no longer very special, I guess. So, like I said, I’ve come across someone. Someone I knew for a long time. I used to see this person on a daily basis (or so), once upon a time. And the first time we communicated was two weeks ago. It’s super weird. But life has its own ways of bringing people together, when the time is right.

So, this someone and I have been exchanging mails; started chatting recently. And we have realized how similar our interests and thoughts are. Our conversations are unique, amusing. We talk about thoughts, beliefs, experiences… We share bits of new information, send each other interesting links and songs. And he introduced me to two awesome sites! One of them is 8tracks.com and I’m already in love with it. 

So, what drove me to write this post? I was wondering what to blog about, while listening to songs (in the above mentioned site) and reading a post (the ‘someone’ shared the link to the post – What others leave for you to keep). It talks about relationships, the role people play in our lives. And it struck me – all that I was doing was somehow connected to this someone. The song, the article, the thought. And I knew I should be blogging about this.

About how people come into your life. And leave, someday, sooner or later. When they leave, you retain a bit of them; you know they have changed your life. Sometimes, when someone steps into your life, you know they are bound to leave. Yet you let them become a seamless part of your days. You make it difficult for yourself to let go, to let them leave.

I’ve made some new friends. And the best one (among them) has chosen to leave, already. We no longer have awesome conversations or share experiences. The friendship we had has come down to occasional smiles and random greetings, sometimes extending into a “How are you?” I can’t explain how it happened, but it did. Perhaps, the person was meant to leave, and all I can do is let go. Let go of a person who has touched me in ways beyond comprehension. But then, when you think about it…maybe people leave to make way for others to enter your life.

I don’t know when this ‘someone’ will step out of my life. For now, I love the bond we share. The links. The words. The music. The thoughts.