Monday, July 16, 2012

Designs Of Our Time

Pieces of broken pots, shards of pottery, a picture on a porcelain piece, a crude painting in a cave, engravings on a rock by a river, a goat embossed on a coin, were but the ramblings of a tribe. Who ever thought they would one day find a place in a jealously guarded museum fitted with burglar alarms? Who ever thought millionaires would vie for their possession in an auction?

Everything man creates is an antique. It’s only a matter of time before someone realizes it is.

Have you seen the Nightingale notebooks? It was during the inaugural ceremony of my friend Nikhil’s store “William Penn’ (a well chosen name for a pen store) at Jayanagar next to Ganesh Darshan (Dosa camp) that I first saw these books. I loved them for the cover. Pencil sketches of personalities in black and brown on a white background. The book had a quote from the personality on each page in the footer.a total of 224 quotes. The first one I bought was a George Bernard Shaw, for a 10 percent discount.

I didn’t know how to put the book to use. I was reluctant to use it in the first place – I wanted it to be new forever. Some of my belongings – clothes, footwear, souvenirs – are still in their packing covers for the same reason.

I think I took them to my Toastmasters meetings for a few days. But finally I chose the book for taking notes while reading. That’s how I read – I don’t read, I study – about that I will tell you more, but another time.

I then bought the notebook with the Buddha theme which I used for the same purpose and then I ‘acquired’ the Shakespeare book too.

When I visited Landmark to pick a book to gift to Shantanu, a colleague who was departing, I went to the stationary section and asked for books of the ‘notebook’ brand. I did not know the brand was ‘Nightingale’. I thought it was ‘NoteBook’ since that was what was printed in bold on the front cover on the books.

The staff told me without blinking that they didn’t have it. I was irritated because I had seen them neatly stacked only last month. Shop keepers not knowing their own stuff is a common problem these days. Don’t know if this complacency is due to ‘lack of customer care’ or ‘economic well being’.

So I asked the other staff, explained to them what I wanted and was finally taken to the right stand. This time I picked up two theme books – Vivekananda and Gandhi, and 3 books with no particular theme but very beautiful covers. So I bought 5 of them.
Shantanu paid for one of the books. It was his return gift for the party we gave him.

Here are the pictures of all those designs. Designs of ‘our time’. For posterity.

I wish I had taken pictures of all the notebooks that I had used when in school and college, each purchased after careful selection, in different stationery stores, from half a dozen towns and cities in India, that my father’s transferable job took us to...

By the way, I am not a fan of cars and bikes. But it was during that inaugural ceremony that I saw Nikhil’s father arriving in his Corolla and I took an instant liking to the car.
Even to this day, it is one of my favourite cars. But not any colour. Just the pearl colour, a particular model I can recognize on road but cannot name.

The pen shop is no longer there. I don’t know when they closed it and why but whenever I pass by that road, I think about it, look at the spot where it used to be and think of Nikhil, an old friend, I think of Mysore, of the Times of India extempore contest that our Teresian College had hosted, in which he had been a participant and I, a spectator, silently wishing I could speak spontaneously too.

Robin Sharma is so right when he says ‘take lots of pictures’.
In retrospect, each picture is a story, an episode of life, of strife, set in a space and time that will never ever come again.

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