The other day, one decided to drop into Danai, the bookshop at Khar, for a brief visit. Though inhabited by attendants who converse in very loud voices about their friends, their evenings out and their lunches, one still visits the place because every now and then you can chance upon interesting titles not available elsewhere in Mumbai.
After a few minutes, during which one picked up Paul Johnson's Creators
and Tarquin Hall's Salaam Brick Lane
, there was a power cut, which plunged the store into darkness. The gentleman next to me whipped out a pocket flashlight and continued to examine the shelves. (One salutes you, Sir.) Elsewhere, however, there was much to-ing and fro-ing as the attendants realised that the emergency lights weren't working, that they couldn't see their hands in front of their faces and that the power wasn't returning anytime soon. After much debate and ado, one of them bravely produced a candle, lit it, and then gazed around uncertainly as though wondering whether books were combustible material.
One went up to an attendant who was busy wringing his hands and enquired whether billing would still be possible. "Yes!" he bellowed. "Er, and will your credit card machine still work?" one meekly continued. "Yes!" he shouted. Ears ringing, one proceeded to the cashier's counter to discover that in the murk, the cashier had misplaced his bill book and was adamant about not allowing me to pay until he located it. After several more minutes, one produced a credit card, only to be firmly told that they wouldn't be accepting cards because of the power failure. At this point, muttering curses, one stepped out of the shop, sidestepping a mound of rubble that the good officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had thought it wise to place on the pavement.
Just another evening in Mumbai, India's commercial capital.