Zurich, Kadare, Steinbeck and Something Freaky

I had promised in my last post to write about the books I got on Saturday just after I finished with the Evidence exam. I finished with the paper around an hour early and almost instantly set out thereafter with some of my friends. First stop was Zurich, right next to the Indian Museum. I had heard plenty about how good this place was, how its pancakes and mashed potatoes were simply out of the world and was quite curious to see how good this place could be to elicit such strong feelings and admiration. Appearance-wise, the place wasn’t too imposing. Full of foreigners, a medium-size room with Christmas decorations (yeah, still), with ACs which didn’t work and fans which thankfully did. I had a chocolate banana pancake and a plain choco milkshake. The former was okay, nothing to send me raving about, and the latter, frankly I’ve had better. However, the service was in one word, dreadful. We had to wait like forever for our dishes to arrive. Imagine, I asked them for a bottle of mineral water. That took them around a good 15 minutes and then they turned up with a god-forsaken brand I hadn’t even heard of before. Still, the first impression might not always be the most accurate one. Gotta come back later to get to know this place a little better. And I’ve got to hand it over to this place in at least one respect. Its dirt-cheap.

Next stop, Oxford. Their annual sale is on till the 19th of this month and I could hardly miss this oppurtunity to pick up some new titles. I finally settled on two. Ismail Kadare’s The Concert and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The problem with me and bookshops is that there are so many books which I want to buy, but given my straitened financial condition, there are so few which I can. And books are also some goddamn costly these days. I mean to say these two titles alone cost me one grand!! Coming back to the books now. Kadare is one one of Albania’s best known, rather, he is Albania’s best known novelist. What Pamuk is to Turkey, Kadare is to Albania. I am yet to start this book. Steinbeck, on the other hand needs no introduction. One of the greatest storytellers ever. East of Eden was exactly the way I like books to be. Thick, voluminous with really short print. Finished this book in one day flat. Although a literary tour de force, this is not the best I have read. Notwithstanding the unquestionable lyrical supremacy, which is to be only expected of Steinbeck, the book end with an element of inadequacy, something unconsummated, underdone. Still, it is a brilliant piece of work. Lastly, about that something freaky, its the book everybody had been raving about in 2005, Freakonomics. Dad picked that up and from whatever little I have gone through, to even have such a concept as behind this book is outrageous. To actually implement it, is even more so. No wonder it is named Freakonomics