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Kindling thoughts on reading books

Published: 06th November 2012 10:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th November 2012 10:46 PM   |  A+A-

The conundrum whether printed books or kindle, the e-reader, should find favour with a zealous reader came up for heated discussion in our club. Bibliophile Somayaji whose hands must have lovingly gripped humongous hardcovers and paperbacks took an aggressive sip of his liquor and snorted, “Whenever I pick up a new book excitedly, the first thing I do is to riffle through the pages and deeply inhale the heady aroma fresh from the press, like I do with cognac in its balloon glass before taking the virgin sip. Can a kindle offer that pleasure?”

He warmed up spiritedly to his theme. “A home may have a puja room with images of a pantheon of gods and goddesses, a pantry with jars and jars of groceries and goodies, even a locker crammed with sparkling jewels and diamonds but will it become a sweet home if there is no library of well-stacked books? Besides, even if one page from them was not read, their mere presence would give an aura of intellectuality. Can a solitary kindle weave this magic?”

He waved the empty glass at the waiter for a refill. “In these days of cable TV, iPod, iPhone, facebook and twitter, a good book costing a few hundreds will be the best gift one can give youngsters to inculcate the reading habit. Can one afford to present a kindle costing a few thousands? Besides, with the current one-child concept, relations like brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and so forth would in future become mere entries in dictionaries. If a single kindle replaces several books, a similar misfortune of loneliness may befall on individuals. So, gentlemen, my vote is for books that exude collective positive energy. Not for kindle, the ‘spineless’ wonder.”

We turned towards young Nandu quaffing his pint of lager to advance his pro-kindle arguments. “Superstar Rajni’s quote is ‘if I say once, it is equivalent to saying hundred times’. Likewise, if you have one kindle it is like having — why hundred? — hundreds of books. Uncle Somayaji talked rapturously about the aroma from a new book. Did he think of the trees cut for printing countless books? If trees are felled thus, where would be the rains and the fetching scent of mother earth drenched by sharp showers? Kindle, the quintessence of the Visishtadvita philosophy is the solution. Like paramatma having countless jeevatmas as his body, a kindle is a divine concept having several books embodied within. I won’t be surprised if Saraswathi, the goddess of learning, discards the pack of palm leaves in her hands and holds a kindle instead. Period.”

Fence-sitter Sadanand, sipping a planter’s punch, briefly summed up as dinner was announced. “True, Kindle has salient points. So do books, but what would happen to the rows of books lovingly collected by a book-worm — after his lifetime? A big question, that. May be the time has come for a new breed to evolve — the kindle-worm!”

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