What it is about

I have always been a lover of short stories.

There was a time when I used to gobble up novels. I particularly recall a vacation when I was a student of the Vivekananda College in Madras. During those ten or fifteen days I used to get books from the college library and finish off one novel a day. The library did not have open access system but each of the  students had been given two bulky volumes of the “acquisition”‘; we had to select a book, fill up a requisition slip and hand it to the library assistant through a small window. Behind him were stacks and stacks of books in solitary confinement.  Minutes later he emerged with the book we had asked for and gave it to us after duly stamping it.

This process I went through every day during that vacation sometime in the early Sixties (the author whose titles I devoured was Pearl S. Buck): the college was close-by for me to be able to do so without any personal vehicle that scores of students boast of nowadays even while at school (nor did I have any girl friends: most boys and girls moved in phalanxes even in the so-called coed colleges such as the Madras Christian College where too I studied or earlier  in the coed school in Coimbatore) .

I even recall the ambience in which I read at that time. In those days students didn’t have a room of their own nor did parents shower so much attention on their wards (I envy the LKG children of the present times: I find that each day the mother picks up the child at the school gate and then before getting on to the Scooty goes across the road to the shop with the child on tow and buys for him or her a packet of Lays or a bar of Cadbury’s and says: Vaa, kanna, veetukku polaam: naa unakku mammu tharen, paavam unakku pasikkiradhu illaya?)

Sorry for these constant digressions. I was recalling where I read during those hols. Yes, it was in the hall: we Indians don’t use the term ‘drawing room’: it’s always the hall. After all, we have had centuries of foreign rule and we would like to think that to every man the home is his castle and so we imagine we are living in one of those Scottish castles with their capacious rooms.  Thus it was that I was comfortably settled (rather stretched) in the three-seater rattan sofa with the fan whirring above. I would be engrossed in my book, not knowing even when a storm was raging outside or when a mouse scurried across the floor.

The Loyola College too had a well-stocked library but students were not allowed to go in and browse: nowadays even bookshops let you do it. Well, in our days even bookshops didn’t encourage shoppers to touch their wares – yes, that’s the term. I remember a shop, a famous shop, on Mount Road, where the shop owner expected us to get in, ask for a book, pay and leave with the thing in hand. Very much like you bought  half a seer of vellam at the corner maligai kadai or a matchbox at the potti kadai.

Even during the most part of my career I continued reading novels but there came a time when the weariness, the fever and the fret of everyday life did not allow me to spend much time with the bulky books. Yet love of reading cannot be squelched: so I kept up reading short stories – I still do.

In the postings on this blog, launched just this morning on a sudden impulse, I hope to mention a short story, give a laconic synopsis (without disclosing the end so your curiosity may be piqued) and a very brief commentary.

The first SS will be in my next posting.


14 Responses to What it is about

  1. Col deepak Gopinath says:

    Hi Chaturvasi,
    Congratulations on the new endeavour.
    I too used to do a lot of light reading while in school as the Coimbatore Municipal Library (Since you also studied at CBE you may remember the place) was very close to my School (Stanes) High) and I used to be a regular visitor there. Just the other day my wife spoke about that library which had such a wonderful collection of books, of course we were allowed to go into the library and get the book of our choice after locating it in the Index; those small draws which had the names of the books listed in Alphabetical order, there were two listings in the Index, one by Author name and the other by name of the book. It is unfortunate that, that particular library is not to be seen nowadays and the building is being used as a special court for the Coimbatore blasts case!!!
    I generally used to go for westerns and light reading, was not fond of very heavy literature or literary classics.
    So shall look forward to your SS’s.
    All the best for the blog
    PS – Which was the co-ed school you attended at CBE ?

  2. clueless says:

    i do not find any reference to crossword puzzles.

  3. cgrishikesh says:


    Thanks for visiting my blog. And your comment.

    I did my SSLC in Mani’s High School, Pappanaickenpalayam. One of the earliest schools in Tamil Nadu to have English medium for SSLC.

    I have pleasant memories of my career there. The headmaster was Sri N Chinnaswamy Naidu.

    I failed in SSLC – though I got overall first class. And I missed getting the gold medal for State first in English.

    In those days there were no textbooks for certain subjects in English and we had to make do with teacher’s notes. With my parents away in Durgapur, I was on my own and despite studious efforts there was some weak link somewhere.

    • Pammechchu says:

      Hi Mr.Chaturvasi,

      I also studied in Mani High School – the 9th, 10th & 11th Standards. Finished SSLC in 1972.

      I also have very fond memories of the School.. used to spend a lot of time in the Library… all those volumes of the National Geographic…. wow….

      I now live in Cochin.

      Pammechchu (V.R.Parameswaran)

  4. cgrishikesh says:


    Sorry! In my plug, I should have said the blog was not related to crosswords.

  5. Col Deepak Gopinath says:

    I had a lot of friends from Mani’s. I remember Mr Chinnaswamy Naidu very well, he used to stay in the same colony where we stay ie Krishnaswamy Nagar, would see him every moring going around the colony on his daily constutional.

  6. V.R.Parameswaran says:

    Hi Mr.Chaturvasi,

    All the very best for your blog..


  7. P.C.Jayaraman says:

    Best wishes for the blog. Being a reader myself (mostly light stuff), I look forward to your SSs. My reading started with books from the library in Thoraipadi (near Vellore where I lived 1942-45). I had to cycle a few miles to the library and back but loved it all.

  8. After middle school I switched over to matriculation instead of going on to SSLC. The foreign nun who was at the helm of affairs was the one who instilled the reading habit in me. We had a library hour and were allowed to borrow a book from a neat, little library. I got acquainted with Enid Blyton and instantly fell in love with author. I read voraciously like an addict. At one stage my mentor nun admonished me, ‘you are too old to read Enid Blyton, begin reading something more adult in content to know the world better. But my first love remains alive till today. Perhaps that is why the child in me still remains in the same stage!!! I improved my vocabulary, spoken English all because of my introduction to Enid Blyton. Later I wandered towards Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Erle Stanley Gardner and P.G.Wodehouse. Being a student of English literature I conscientiously read all the bulky novels prescribed for the novel paper in PG course- one of friends declared I must be the only student who did that, all students getting the synopsis of each book for the exam purpose! My mom’s very descriptive comment is a book to me is like the chain for the temple elephant, never parting with it wherever it went.
    Life took a busy turn after marriage, children and transfers leaving little time for serious reading. Then when the children grew up the next session of serious reading began with authors like Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown and so on.
    With advancing years, reading pleasure slightly tends to take a back seat giving place to easy internet word games!!!
    Forgive me for my long digression -and old woman’s tales!!!

  9. Shuchi says:

    Congrats for your blog. As an avid reader myself, I look forward to your future posts. Hope I’ll find some of my fav short stories/authors featured here and discover new ones to acquaint myself with.

    Mrs. PP: I am glad to know that you’re a fellow Enid Blyton fan. There were such lovely descriptions of food in her books – hot buttered scones and ginger ale and what not.

    • cgrishikesh says:

      Shuchi/MrsPP: When my daughter was in school I used to get her Enid Blyton books from a famous lending library of Madras that is just two minutes’ walk from my house; she has read the complete range of this author and other similar ones.
      Even well into college she, rather a reserved person, never went to that library. It was I who always brought her the pick of the month.
      I know the owner from the 1950s when he was running just a ruddi shop and later developed this business of book lending.
      Talking of food descriptions in books, there are many other authors who are adept in it: have you read Ian Fleming?

  10. Sriganesh says:

    Very interesting blog and concept! Good work C-Vasi!

    My experience with libraries and reading has been quite enriching too. I started out like your daughter, too. When I was in my 5th grade, my Dad introduced me to the concept of lending libraries. There was a library called Reader’s paradise(lovely name, and befitting too for a library in a place like Vellore(somebody here told he lived in Thorappadi and cycled to a library, assume it was the central library u refer to)). Anyway, Dad had got me a Tintin, a Tinkle and some thing else I don’t remember. The next time, he took me to the place and I did the choosing. My reading curve was like this Tinkle->Jataka tales->Tintin->Famous Five, Secret Seven->Hardy Boys->Irwing Wallace(:-D at this point, Dad had to do some parental advisory). This was during my school days, and Reader’s paradise was one of my favourite places in Vellore. Sadly, not too many readers were in Vellore perhaps, and it went out of business.) I was shocked one day to find an electronics shop in its place.

    Once I joined college, I was lucky to have a lending library right in front of college(never visited my college library). There I started reading Michael Crichton, Ian Fleming(yes he describes food and drinks like no one else), Sidney Sheldon, Jack Higgins, Robert Ludlum, Ayn Rand, Sigmund Freud. Was a member in The British Council also for a short time. But choosing a good book to read there is perhaps the job of a connoisseur.

    Later, it’s all been like reading books based on their popularity. But my reading habit has gone down a lot after beginning work. Hope to revive it. This blog would be a good start. A short story a day! The ones I remember from school are “The Last leaf”, “With the photographer”, “History lesson”, “God Sees The Truth, But Waits”. He he… Nice memories…

    Hope to find some good stories here…

  11. cgrishikesh says:

    Thanks, Sriganesh!

    Of the four stories that you mention, I have read and reread two.

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