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.
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.”