Museums. 2 On 1.

This is the first post this year of a new weekly initiative 2 On 1 of Shackman and mine to write on the same subject every Friday.

My association with museums started with a number of visits to the Government Museum Chennai. It was an annual ritual with martinet class teachers herding us around things we had no interest in. We would have been happier playing football or cricket instead.

In my mid teens, my brother Arvind and I were taken off on a short vacation to Bombay as it was then known by our uncle and one day, he simply dropped us off at the entrance to the Prince of Wales Museum as it was then known with some cash in our hands and told us to see properly as we were to be quizzed by him later in the evening. We dutifully went through the museum but more enjoyed the snacks outside.  Subsequently, having been posted in Bombay on four separate stretches, I had visited the same museum as an adult on several occasions primarily escorting friends and family.

It was in Hyderabad in the early sixties where the visits to the famous Salar Jung Museum became more voluntary, not because I suddenly became interested in anitques or collectibles but, because it was a place to go to at very little expense with my then steady girl friend. Further visits were also made to escort her relatives or friends.

In 1973, we were posted in Calcutta as it was then known and so I had the very unpleasant duty of escorting my beloved wife and a couple of her visiting friends to the Indian Museum Calcutta, the oldest in India.

After that came a long period of having nothing to do with museums as I was busy with other more important things in life.

Then came 1980 when I was transferred to Delhi and for the first time was happy to visit a museum voluntarily and with great joy escort visitors too, The National Railw Museum Delhi. I have lost count on the number of times that I have visited this museum, sometimes on my own to recharge my batteries but mostly escorting visiting friends and family. Given the opportunity, I would like to visit it again before I pop off.

We shifted to Pune in 1990 and naturally had to make the pilgrimage to the famous Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. Another museum that had no special interest for me but I had to visit on a few occasions to escort visiting family and friends.

I have also visited some other famous museums in the West but because I had to rather than I wanted to. Had I not, on return to India, I would have not been able to answer knowledgeable Indians asking me if I had been to the Tate of the Metropolitan or seen the painting of The Last Supper.

I am now at that stage of life I myself am a museum piece and hence do not foresee any more visits to any museum.

Book Binder 2.

One comment on my earlier post My Book Binder wondering about the cost of binding books, leads me to write this post.

I use another method to make books last a bit longer by getting a transparent plastic cover put on them by a machine specially made for that purpose. This machine is operated by a rather eccentric shop keeper who sells books in our old city and would insist on leaving the book/s with him overnight or for a couple of days before he would find the time to cover and return the book.

This method is much cheaper but I have to go to the city to get it done once to leave the book there and once again to collect it.   I had a young associate who used to live close by to the shop who used to do this for me cheerfully.   Unfortunately this young man died two weeks ago and I  would now have to go myself. I am investigating possibilities of getting one of the machines and if I succeed, I will give it to a friend who runs a small lending library close to home who will be delighted to commercialise it.

Here is a specimen of such a plastic covered book.  You can see the plastic on the edges.

My Book Binder.

I get paper back books not available as hard cover copies bound by a Book Binder about two Kms away from home. I have been doing this for a couple of decades. Due to parking problems near his shop however, I have stopped going there personally and send our help Mangal with whatever book that needs to be bound. This is more efficient as she lives just two doors away from his shop.

There are some books that I keep separately from my others for being on matters spiritual / religious and these are inevitably bound in black rexene covered cardboard covers like this one below.

I recently got a copy of the book Hindutva by Savarkar considered to be the guiding spirit of the Hindu Right movement in India.

Since only paper back was available I bought it and sent it to be bound in Black just like the one shown above. To ensure that there will no mistakes, I sent a black covered specimen along with the book with Mangal.

This is the original cover of the book.

The binder called me after he bound it to get it collected and on asking if he had followed instructions on covering it in black rexene, he said no he had not but had in saffron coloured rexene. On further enquiry and on expressing my disappointment, he said, that he could not bind the book in any other colour as the topic was Hindutva and Saffron is the colour of Hindus. This is what the bound book looks like now.

I quietly accepted defeat and have got the book now standing out among a host of black bound books.