Archive for July, 2011

The end of an era

Back when I was in school the library used to be my second home. Say, I was done with classes for the day and had time to spare, or I was working on an assignment / project, or I was studying for a test, or I just wanted to rest for a while – there was only one place I would go to – the library. My home away from home; my sanctuary.

Then came the time to graduate and to move to a new place, new job. The first few months here, I spent most of the time at work trying to get used to it all. And once I was settled in comfortably, I found myself with so much spare time in the evenings and started missing the library back in school. As I was debating whether or not to go visit the public library nearby, the distant dream of one day having a good collection of books of my own started knocking on my heart’s door more frequently. Now, I could afford to spend on books that weren’t textbooks and I thought why not.

And that’s when I became a regular at the Borders store near work.

Since then, so much time I’ve spent in the company of books there! And how attached I’ve gotten to that place because it holds so many memories – of the time I took my sister there and she picked book after book all the while telling me it would be the last, but still couldn’t stop; of those weekends I studying for the test while K sat next to me and passed time with a good book in hand; of the evenings K spent preparing for interviews while I sat there lost in a world that the story took me to; of those days when we would meet there after work, sit upstairs at the store and just watch people walk by down in the streets – people rushing home after work, tourists stopping here and there to take in what the city has to offer, kids chasing pigeons, couples, hand in hand, smiling for photos; and of all those afternoons and evenings that I have spent there alone – wandering around different sections of the store, browsing a page or two of a book here and there, sitting near the window and reading a novel, digging through coupons to buy the books I want – good times!

I’ve made Borders a part of my life only in the past few years and I was heartbroken when I heard the news of all stores across the country closing. What must they be feeling – the ones who’ve seen the franchise grow alongside them; the ones who’ve spent time with their children and then their grandchildren in the stores seeing the generations after theirs grow just as fond of the written words as they are; the ones who’ve made it part of their routine to go to the bookstore to meet friends or family to spend time every now and then to appreciate the world of books, be it in the form of discussing favorite reads or recommending good books or buying a bestseller; and most of all, the ones who’ve spent years  working for the company, the devoted employees.

This post might sound like an exaggeration to many, but to me it’s just the way I feel – deeply sad to know that one of my safe havens would be no more in a matter of months. Of course there are other bookstores around and I am sure I will come to like those too, but that’s a different thing altogether. For now all I know is that I’ll miss the comfort that comes from being in a place that always brings a smile, the memories that are written all over the walls, the familiar faces that I get to see every time I walk into those doors, and those isles that I’ve strolled through so many times or those shelves that I’ve skimmed through week after week.

Borders – you’ll be missed immensely by me and so many others. Thank you for all these years of service. My best wishes to all your employees.

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“Tell me all about the mountains”…

…a friend asked when she called me yesterday. I told her bits and pieces about what I did last weekend, but even as I was talking I knew for sure that my words didn’t really do much justice to what I really wanted to say. I know I am not too good at expressing / describing things verbally, and I think I do a little better if I write it down and hence, this post…

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Most of my summer weekends (along with a few of spring and fall weekends) are spent in the woods – taking in all the best things that Mother Nature has to offer. The actual weekend planning starts sometime late Friday morning – not much planning really, just a decision as to where to go. Once that is finalized, rest all falls in place without sticking to any particular schedule. All that we need – tent, sleeping bags, etc – are usually kept in the car; so it doesn’t take us a lot of time to get ready to leave. We start our drive on Friday evenings mostly (journey lasts anywhere between an hour or two to six or seven hours). Once in the car, the weekend beings…

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Camping – what’s there not to like about this experience? Away from the hustle bustle of the city; no phone or internet to distract us; a home away from home that offers nothing but peace. Into the woods, calm and quiet, we take sometime to breathe in fresh air and then start the process of getting the tent up and ready – one of the most fun things to do. Even if, at times, I don’t really help out, I still sit back and enjoy by watching it get done. What is not to love about putting together what will be my home for the next few nights?

Sometimes we end up not getting a spot in the campground due to our tardiness. In times like those, we park the car in a nearby lot, make space and fall asleep in the car. We’ve done this a few times…it has its own charm and I’ve come to enjoy every bit of this experience too.

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Hiking – something I find very therapeutic. Walking into the jungle leaving behind all the stress – can’t ask for more! Even if I don’t leave behind my worries, the atmosphere is just so tranquil that I don’t get to focus on anything but the beauty that surrounds.

As we start the hike, I have all the energy in me to face what may lie ahead. I marvel at the colorful flowers, wild berries and mushrooms, lush trees, cool breeze and everything else that crosses our path. But eventually, I start to huff and puff. Sometimes, I complain about the steep climb and other times, I take more breaks than necessary. Sometimes, I come to the verge of wanting to turn back and other times, I doubt if I’ll be able to pull it off. Yet, I keep going. For I know that what awaits will be worth every step I took to reach there.

Perhaps a mesmerizing view of mountain ranges. Or a scene of a beautiful lake down in the valley. Perhaps a waterfall gushing down to wash away the beads of sweat on my face. Or the sight of mist rising to unveil the mystery that it covers. Be what it may, the splendor that is Nature never ceases to amaze!

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There are so many other little things that happen, making every one of these trips so similar, yet to different from one another –

If one night we sleep under the sky with a bright moon and glittering stars spread across, then there’s another night equally captivating with the sky only revealing dark clouds that sing lullaby through their raindrops. If there’s a day when the sun spreads love by gracing us with periods hot enough to be able to swim in the beach, then there’s another day just as pleasant when we get to see the sun playing peek-a-boo. If there’s a morning when the birds chirp non-stop acting as our sweet wake up call, then there’s another morning when the woodpecker decides it’s his turn to be a loud alarm. If there’s an afternoon where we spend time in the tent reading or sleeping to the sound of thunders, then there’s another afternoon that is equally relaxing as we spend time walking in the woods. If there’s an evening spent sitting by the campfire laughing incessantly about some random incident, then there’s an evening that is just as much fun as we sit on the shore listening to the music of waves hitting the rocks while we reminisce the past or dream about the future.

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No wonder we love doing it over and over, one weekend after another!

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