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Sunday, March 10, 2013


Last year, I went to Palo Alto Library on a book sale upon a friend's recommendation. One of the volunteers chatted with me and opined, 'You have a very sweet way about you- maybe you should become a volunteer.' I took her advice and signed up a volunteer form of FOPAL (Friends of the Palo Alto Library ). I had almost forgotten about it until I received an email from Janette about volunteering opportunities this month. Sunday, March 10th 1:30 pm- 4 pm seemed like a convenient slot for me.

Janette explained my duties as a cashier in the Main Room. A cash box was provided and I had to write receipts. We had to add the book amounts aloud so the customer could hear us. Then we had to write the total amount due on the receipt indicating what was sold (books, CDs etc.) with the date and our initials. I was soon through a receipt book, and it made me very happy to see the cash box full when we closed at 4 pm. Janette said she would definitely like to have me back again. Another volunteer joked that all the buyers flocked to the pretty girl. Actually, my seat was more accessible on the way out.

Greg, sitting next to me, is an artist and he mentioned that the San Jose Museum of Arts (on Market St)  had Monet on display a couple of days ago and is currently housing a collection by a very talented artist. I made a mental note to visit it again when I could manage some free time.

There were many interesting people who bought books- there was a man who said he was going to ship his purchases to libraries in Asia. Another man bought an old postcard because it had a stamp on it which he hadn't seen before. A lady identified one of the picture frames by Arthur Court. A lot of people donated change towards the end for the fundraiser.

SG picked 3 bags full of books- and he didn't even visit the Bargain Room. (There it was $5 a bag!) Greg said I could take a break if I wanted to, but I didn't feel too tired though I had slept only 4 hours the previous night. The Daylight Saving Time began today- and it was Greg's least favorite day of the year. I can understand why.

But I was happy to be amidst books; crunching numbers isn't bad when you get to touch magazines, monographs, graphic  novels, comic books,  paperbacks, and hardcovers of all kinds. If I had the time, I would have loved to read all the hand -written messages on the used books, some of which even had the author's signature on them.

The book sale event at the Cubberley Community Center raises approximately $200,000 for the libraries each year. ( About 270,000 new readers ) A senior volunteer mentioned that the Main Room and Bargain Room had about 20,000 books each at a given time. If you want to help, visit their site to volunteer, donate, buy books or you can look for similar opportunities in your local libraries.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Violinist

I heard Grammy-nominated Philippe Quint play the violin tonight at Flint Center, Cupertino. And what an experience it was! I feel extremely moved by good music, books,  films. In fact, I like to give in to the power of any kind of beautiful expression. Today was no different- my eyes welled as I heard the fiddle virtuoso recite Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, Op. 26, (originally composed by Max Brunch).

I discovered that Phillipe plays an antique Antonio Stradivari violin -"Ruby" (1708), on loan to him through the Stradivari Society. After receiving a much-deserving standing ovation from the audience, he played  for us The Red Violin ( composer John Corigliano) from the 1998 Canadian drama film, which was inspired by one of Antonio Stradivari's violins- the Red Mendelssohn (1721). I don't think Phillipe's choice of that piece was a coincidence.

I always had a desire to learn to play the violin. I heard that my father used to play it a long time ago. He took guitar lessons after he retired from the Indian Police Service. Every day I try to dream of at least one seemingly impossible thing or at least something that requires a long-term commitment- this gives me something to look forward to; today it is going to be to play the violin- no matter how long it takes.