Hyderabad’s Sunday Valley of Words!

Hyderabad is sweltering under this very vengeful sun over its head! But despite the blistering heat, every small and big bakery or eatery carries the famous addictive fattening samosas of Hyderabad! These crisp,  oily delicacies (India’s answer to pizzas maybe) are made from potatoes, peas, onions, or alas even chicken and meat, and wrapped up in an envelope of flour and fried or baked into a tea time treat!

You can’t imagine a more perfect way to watch a gripping thriller, especially one of those dark as death, Finnish or now even German television series like Bordertown (Finland) or The Same Sky and Dark from Germany. 

But if you are a reader you can save yourself from this very fattening samosa addiction by escaping to the Sunday book fair! All the sellers of second hand books converge on Hyderabad’s shopping centre called Abids where they spread out their wares in various ingenious, cheering ways! 

The books that are kept on wooden shelves against the walls of shopping centres could cost anywhere between a 100 rupees to even 500 rupees. Art books could be even more expensive.

Then there is a massive stock of books spread out over a table or a snug ledge, costing just Rs. 50. Many sellers arrange their treasures or trash on the concrete roadside offering them to you at a price of Rs. 100 for three books or each book for Rs. 20 or even ten. Here I have found some of the most amazing treasures – short stories by the world’s best writers, old mysterious cookery books, even ghost stories, forgotten gems of Indian writers like Tagore and just about anything!

I had picked out the three I wanted in the three for one hundred stall and had to call out for the seller to check my wares. He was chatting with his friends at another spot where the gardening and cookery books were neatly stacked against the wall. When I scolded him for not keeping a check on his wares, and what would he have done if I had just walked off with them, he said he had been watching me! But I was not so sure. They all seemed to be having a family outing of a kind, and even the bargaining seemed to be quite amicable!

Though the smarter sellers know how to charge you more for a Stephen King novel or the other regular favourites like Grisham etc. and alas 50 shades of Grey and even the art books are costlier, you somehow end up with  treasures. There is one street where five or six sellers spread out their treats on long tables and on the concrete, charging just Rs. 30 for each book or magazine! I found the beloved writer of Chocolate, Joanne Harris, waiting there for me with a new story, for just this amount! It is sad to find buyers even bringing this down to Rs. 10!

One of the joys of this visit is to find several children and teenagers picking up books there. 

Once you get swallowed up inside that prison which old and very inexpensive books can create to drag you in and eat you up, you are lost! But this means that you are also free from gobbling up one more crunchy potato samosa as you watch that tall, alluring  Detective Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen) in Netflix!

who solves the most gut wrenching murders with his intuition and keeps you engaged with his dark sense of humor in Bordertown.

The best time to visit this fair is three in the afternoon when all the sellers have arrived to fill up the entire shopping area with their books creating for five to eight hours a valley of words and pictures. It goes on up to seven, eight or even nine in the night and you will have to drag home your treasures inside a roomy cotton or jute bag!

Just remember to keep away from those samosas!

Hyderabad's addictive Sunday book fair of second hand delights will make you richer in words than you can ever imagine!

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