How Reading Helped My Socially Awkward Self Make Friends
November 14, 2017
Though at the helm of affairs at the café, V is a traveler at heart – for me, he is like From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet by Vikram Seth. I read this book in high school as part of my Literature in English course; in the beginning, I couldn’t wrap my head around the inclusion of a travelogue in the syllabus, but then, I grew to love it – a perfect depiction of V and my friendship. The book is based on Seth’s remarkable and unorthodox journey from western China on to the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and Kathmandu, and ultimately to Delhi. The book surprises its readers as it explores the point of borders and boundaries, and is studded with poetry –
“Here we three, cooped, alone,
Tibetan, Indian, Han,
Against a common dawn
Catch what poor sleep we can
And sleeping drag the same
Sparse air into our lungs,
And dreaming each of home
Sleeptalk in different tongues.”
Another friend from the book-club, A is a cross between Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions and my favourite author, Margaret Atwood’s prescient first novel, The Edible Woman. A is my age but seems like she is as old as the hills – with her long, meandering bookshelves and her ability to remain resilient in the face of all adversity. She is suspended between the realms of fiction and non-fiction; she is both there and not there. She reminds me of Dear Ijeawele simply because I see her following her own feminist manifesto, and encouraging other women to never shy away from being themselves. In her very bizarre way, she is the feminist I’d love to become. But in most ways, A is like Marian, the protagonist of The Edible Woman – an ordinary woman who cannot calm (for good reason) her inner rebellion – “What else can I do? Once you’ve gone this far you aren’t fit for anything else. Something happens to your mind. You’re overqualified, overspecialized, and everybody knows it.”
Then there’s P – he’s not about genres at all. You cannot put a person like P in a neatly categorized box. P is everywhere and nowhere, and you must always aspire to have a friend like this. P blends into whatever books he wishes to, whenever he wishes – it’s a neat habit, I think. Also, I have never seen P with a paperback or a hardback. P is the full convert, his uncovered, e-reader fitting snuggly in the front pocket of his breeches. Oftentimes, P will look up from his beverage (mostly a protein shake), or suddenly text on a Saturday morning asking for recommendations on books that will help him escape reality. P reminds me of one of my favourite books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer because he is one of two people who I know enjoyed the book as much as I did. Also, because P is like the book – as a friend, he creeps up on you almost suddenly, and then you’re glad that you stayed friends.
Take a peek at some of the books Deya’s read with her book-club.
Photo Credits: Dialogues Cafe, Bangalore
Deya is a human rights lawyer by day, and by night, a book nerd, who is constantly running out of shelf-space. Her small apartment in Bangalore, where she is based, has already been swallowed by her meandering bookshelves. Truth be told, this might also be her ultimate plan to avoid all human contact. Deya tweets about feminism, women's rights and (mostly) all things books at @LadyLawzarus.
Read her articles here.