Tag Archives: bookstore

That man with books and a cup of tea

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The sunshine of the beautiful Spring morning fell graciously upon Delhi town. Out in Connaught place the warmth seemed to infuse into daily walkers, the newspaper hawker, young and old lovers, the policeman among many others. The otherwise grumpy old man tipped the chai wala generously, the coffee shop guy put the extra creme in the coffee cup of a trendy North Eastern lady. This shriveled beggar approached the task of trying to persuade perfect strangers to bear the burden of their maintenance with that optimistic vim which makes all the difference. It was strange yet happy morning!

But this girl who looked eighteen but was actually twenty two, was in no mood of imbibing that brightness, that joie di vivre. It was as if she took a flight from Mars like a perfect stranger- lonely and lost yet curious. So, she walked aimlessly humming Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, when she banged into somebody not quite the man with a tambourine but a man with three books and a cup of tea.

“I am awfully sorry ma’am,” said this book man.

“Look you Mr. absent minded, What you did to my white chicken cloth skirt, it’s all brown now- because of your yucky tea. Already, I am uncomfortable in this strange little town and you have made it worse.”

“Tell me how can I make it better for you?”

“By buying a new skirt for me for starters.”

It was maybe her figure of speech or her angry expression that made him laugh hard and this infuriated her. But he was smart enough to cut her off in between and suggested an idea.

“Okay I am buying you a new skirt,” said the book man with a look that expressed, “Wow! I have got this new experiment to deal with.” He was amused yet little scared by this petite girl.

It was a scary although exciting proposition but she walked with this polite book and tea man and she carried mountains of heavy thoughts that made her more nervous than having been caught by her dad stealing his Glenfidditch and her class twelve board exams.

“I think I should go or maybe I should walk with him. This is Delhi after all.”

Seeing her nervous the man asked,” Why are you so scared and nervous?”

Does this man happens to have an X Ray vision. “No I am not nervous….haha nervous who me? I was wondering what books are you reading,” she replied trying to find a common interest.

“Okay one is PG Wodehouse, Jeeves novel if you heard of it…very funny, this one is by John McEnroe- the tennis star and the third one is by Gurucharan Das- India Unbound.

“Oh I have read India Unbound and enjoyed it. Mr. Das is one of the few Indian authors who writes so well and Jeeves is my absolute favourite. I love tennis and wouldn’t mind reading the legendary John Mcenroe’s book, I have read Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal’s,” she replied excitedly.

“Hmm quite a tennis lover you are… So what do you do?

“I seriously do nothing as of now. I am looking to work somewhere, probably I want to get into the marketing field.. What do you do?”

“I, well don’t laugh but I work in a bookstore.”

She let out a whistle hearing this- the whistle that would have made Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s sound less significant. “Wow! I like the company of book lovers, so where is your shop? I must visit it some time. Are these your books?”

“Yes these are all mine. Come to my bookstore today, it is at Hauz Khas village.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Bookstores Bad Hair Days

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If it hadn’t been the case of too much traffic or bad weather or the government closing few metro stations, I would have totally hoped on to my favourite bookstores.  Well, I believe I have many excuses and the day has not ended, so I must go to the nearest one. I sometimes also feel that I may be the privileged one who has a chance to go to a bookstore; my grandchildren might not ever get to visit one, owing to the popular Tablet culture.  It is one of my impossible dreams to open up a bookstore but Dear Tablets and internet downloads gives me a bad feeling.

The thing is when I go to a bookstore; I usually don’t know which book to buy. Sometimes I might know the topic (humour, politics, inspiration, love stories, history etc.) I have no idea and I am very picky and choosy that I end up spending two hours in a store. And this is the best part. Sounds like a mystery to me. One of the storekeepers called me a killjoy because he thought that after spending two hours, I might end up buying ten books but to his disappointment, I had only one book.  My best pick till today has been a PG Wodehouse and Tim Harford’s, “Undercover Economist” and the worst has been Twilight (A very emotionally abusive novel).

I have had some of the best and nostalgic times in the bookstore.  I used to visit this (when I was around ten with mummy) store called the Knowledge Store- a two storied book shop. A paradise for any book lover but twelve years later I see no Knowledge Store at Green Park (New Delhi). I do respect online stores like Flipkart and Amazon sometimes but seriously half your fun is killed, although you do get a book at discounted rates.

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source: hookedonbook.com

This is weird but have you ever smelled a book, I have and please don’t be judgmental here. I do smell books till now. Some people donate old books and sometimes in those books, you find a pressed flower or a deep note. In one of the books, I don’t remember which one- A grandparent wrote to his/her grandchild, “Honey this is my last gift to you, hope you enjoy reading the book.” My grandfather jokingly said that when I die, I will leave all my books to your sister and you. Sometimes, I think with stores like Barnes and Nobles closing down in America, wouldn’t India be impacted in coming years?

I see if not every second face but every fifth or sixth face reading a novel on the iPads or notebooks and it leaves me with such an uncomfortable feeling. I tried reading on that miniature screen too (somebody else’s tablet) but I have got glasses and I do care about my eyes. Haha, who would review the book as, “A Page Turner” in coming years? The popular gifting culture will also die….I believe not everyone can afford to gift his child or loved one- a tablet. My sister was lucky enough to convince my father to buy a bookshelf.  No matter how distressed or dull you may feel, a bookstore transports you into another world.

So, looking at the Nargis flower (a very rare flower) pressed by mom in a book, I ponder over the good memories. I think of the second storied attic of Knowledge Store, the heavenly scented perfume and flower adorned Readers Paradise bookstore, the wooden furniture bookstore and the methodically placed books and much more. Still on the optimistic side, Agatha Christie says, “While the light lasts.”