Monday, September 19, 2011

Of Flipkart, mysterious disappearances, and two scatterbrains.

The narrow table in the dining room as it was in 2008.
The same table, as it is today.
Our bedroom window sill, and Boseji's corner.

In recent months, Flipkart has become my new best friend. It is just so easy to order a book online and have it delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days! Flipkart has made me forget both my beloved lending library and my main reason for borrowing books from the said library- not enough space in any of our bookshelves. This reasoning has never appealed to the SRE, though- he is an inveterate book buyer. (I'm not quite sure whether he ever finishes a book, or whether he absorbs it by some kind of osmosis, but that is almost completely besides the point).
A narrow table, which used to have decorative thingummies and a fruit basket on it has become a bookshelf with the help of bookends, but is also overflowing. My bedroom window sill is laden, as are other odd surfaces, as you can see in the photographs above.

When the older son was visiting us this summer, Amitav Ghosh's River of Smoke was gifted to him by the fond parents. He read it at top speed, and I borrowed it from him, knowing full well that since he would not be taking it back with him to the USA, the other kids and I could read it at leisure. I read it, and lent it, along with The Immortals of Meluha, to Sue. It came back a while ago, and was kept on the narrow table along with The Secret of the Nagas, a more recent acquisition, courtesy Flipkart. I'm sure you know that River of Smoke is a large book, not easy to lose, but that is exactly what I did.

I was talking to the oldest child a few days ago, and since the youngest kid will be travelling to Delhi by train this October, we decided that I would send several books across with him, including River of Smoke. I pulled out several books that I had enjoyed from my window 'shelf', and dumped them on the narrow table. I was, however, puzzled to find River of Smoke and its companions missing from there. Being me, I vaguely wondered where the books were, and then got busy doing something else.

At the back of my mind, though, there was a niggle. Where were those three books? I looked into all our various bookshelves, even under the cloth covering the narrow table, and in some random unlikely places just for fun, but there was no sign of them.
The younger son had been away from Kolkata, so he had hardly been home, but I still asked him, this weekend, if he had, perchance, borrowed them. He said that he hadn't, so I let my brain worry a bit more.
This morning I asked the SRE if he'd seen them. He said he remembered seeing them on that very table, but had not touched them. He wondered if the maid had cleared them away. That, I said, was not possible, because she never touches our books. He looked at his half-unpacked-since-Thursday-evening-suitcase lying on the bedroom floor, and asked me to look in there, and of course there were no books to be seen. (Quite surprisingly, he hadn't bought any on his last trip). We remained most puzzled, and realised that there had been no recent visitor to our house who could have possibly taken the books- the last non-resident, non-family, non-regular worker was the electrician, repairing and replacing a ceiling fan which was moaning and groaning away to high heaven, making so much noise that it was impossible to live with.
An unlikely book pincher, we thought. There had been no guests, either.

The SRE thought that either we or the books were now in a parallel universe. I thought that maybe they had chosen to dematerialise just because I was planning to send one of them off to Delhi. Such things have been known to happen, especially in my life. We were pottering around in the dining room, and wondering what could have possibly happened, when I suddenly remembered . I flicked aside the curtain above the divan, and there was the missing threesome, all present and correct. If I could have kicked myself, I would have. Once again, it was the Cleaning Monster's fault, coupled with her general absentmindedness. Since I was sick and tired of seeing piles of books all over the place, I thought of commandeering the dining room window as an interim book shelf, and at that time the only extra books on the narrow table were those three, and they managed to be completely hidden by the curtain. (In the first picture you will see a single curtain, in the second you can see one of a pair, drawn back to let the light in).

I do try very hard to be organised, but ours is a big household, and if something is not kept in its designated place, it can be very difficult to locate. And cleaning sprees, or clearing up stuff in a hurry, can lead to some major displacements. I still shudder to think of the time I'd managed to misplace all of our life insurance policies. Phew. Yes, original LIC policies, which I had cleared away into the unlikeliest of places. However, (thank God for this), I'm not the only one. One evening I gave a slim plastic folder of credit card statements to the SRE, who had needed them for income tax reasons. Within minutes, though, the folder went missing. He was sitting on the bed, and the folder was supposed to have been kept in one of the drawers of his bedside table, but it was nowhere to be found. We went through all the drawers, and he hadn't moved from the bed, but there was no sign of the wretched thing. We gave up in despair, wondering anew at our foolishness and the malevolence of inanimate objects, and went to bed. The next morning I was, once more, inspired. I pulled out all the drawers and found the folder lying bent, at the back of the chest which the drawers slide into. Bah. The drawer was so full that the poor folder got squeezed out of it. No malevolence, no dematerialising, and no parallel universe.

I am absolutely convinced that we are made for each other. And that we also need a competent secretary, archivist and librarian in our home.


Bong Mom said...

I am a recent FlipKart fan, used it to order a tons of books for the kid which parents paid for and then also carried all the way :)

dipali said...

@BongMom: How lovely! I spend far more on Flipkart than I do in bookshops, especially because there discounts are so tempting. (I'm starting to feel sorry for the bookshops now). I'm sure your kids will love them.

Sue said...

LOL! Been there, done that. My mother and I have an explanation for things that go missing like this: that they have been 'tidied' away! ("gochhano hoyechhe")

Unknown said...

Oh God Flipkart has taken over my life -theres no more place on the windowsills too Dipali . Driving me nuts but I am waiting for a shipment which has landed in Kolkata even as I type :p

dipali said...

@Sue: I think that this urge to tidy things away should be controlled very strongly- it causes more trouble than it's worth!

@eve's lungs: I know,it is totally addictive. What have you ordered? Shall stand in line to borrow it:)

The Bride said...

Can I apply for the role of librarian and archivist (but not secretary?) Also I have tagged you...

dipali said...

@The Bride: I should have added a rider, all three in one!!!! We'd love to have you:) The tag is a tough one, can I mail you?

R's Mom said...

Ready to follow the Bride...infact Bride lives in HK..I toh come to Calcutta every year...and live in India I qualify better..*sticks tongue out at Bride* heheeh :)

This happens everywhere I will decide on a safe place..and its so safe that she has no idea where that important piece of paper went ;)

Unknown said...


in todays iPad, Kindle, Nook world it is always refreshing to see that the good old physical page will still be kept alive by folks


Nitya said...

Ah yes, flipkart and I are best buddies too. Amazon is coming to India as well, they have already started building their warehouse in Mumbai aparently. So more online shopping predicted!
I loved the SRE's theories - I think they perfectly explain not just lost books, but socks, the paper that was there a minute ago, stationery... and the many things I put away and can never find!

Gayatri said...

- We spend a min of 2 hours daily searching for stuff...:)
- Either they are misplaced or safely placed...Where?...nobody knows ;b
- Haven't checked FlipKart...I will..Always liked to browse through real bookshelves...u know having a peek at what others are picking up...feeling the book..but Discounts should do the trick in this case :D

Banno said...

Flipkart is going to be the bane of many lives! My hotel room is now being filled up with books, and I'm already calculating how much I'm going to pay in excess baggage when I get home. Will make up for the discounts.

I always love reading about you and the SRE's confusions at home.

Choxbox said...

And just 5 min back I got a delicious armful of books delivered by - Flipkart!

Indian Home Maker said...

Flipkart has done the same to me and I too have some books that I haven't yet touched!

And you aren't alone in absentmindedness department either :)

Indian Home Maker said...

By the way, loved the pictures, and how the space is being taken over by books :)

dipali said...

@R's Mom:Do you think that just an annual visit is sufficient? Chalo, isi bahaaney aa jaana!
@Sundar Narayanan: The husband has an iPad, but it is used for reading group mails and BBCnews. Our daily newspapers are used more for Sudoku and crosswords than news. Paper is alive and well in our house:)
@Nitya: Amazon as well;God help us all! The SRE's theories do seem absolutely logical when things have vanished.
@Gayatri: It seems such a waste of one's precious life, the time we spend looking for things:(
I found Flipkart very attractive because of the discounts, and also by being able to buy a book which I had not been able to get in any bookshop for many many years.
@Banno: Make multiple trips! And thanks, I'm glad you like our frequent confusions:)
@Choxbox: What fun! What did you get?
@Indian Home Maker:It's so good to hear that I am not alone in both the Flipkart piles and the forgetfulness. I'm glad you liked the photographs:)

Suparn said...

I am sorry to say but unfortunately whenever i order books from flipkart which are big ones (in size) they come all bent from the top. I do not even feel like opening and Reading them because they are all bent.Unfortunately flipkart was not a pleasant experience for me. :(

dipali said...

@Suparn: The ones I've ordered are always well packed in cardboard and polythene and are always in mint conditon. Why don't you mail them and tell them your problem- I'm sure they will rectify it if possible. Reading damaged and bent books doesn't sound like fun at all:(