Booked for Life

I visited a lost world last week.

The streets around Flora Fountain, home to old and new books. There was this crushing rush of nostalgia I felt, a feeling that only comes with having spent the better part of nearly four years scouring those book stalls for old texts, reference manuals, novels and whatever else. There was a thrill to it, as I remember, going from one bookseller to the other, driving a hard bargain with him over a particularly hard to find book, trying to fit the entire contents of my book-list, first in my budget, and later in my knapsack.

At least half of my modest book collection comes from those streets. My Uncle Oswald, The Plays of Oscar Wilde, Pygmalion, The Moor's Last Sigh, Animal Farm, 1984, A Critical History of English Literature and dozens of others I can barely remember. All smelling of mothballs and memories, with pages fading to an antique yellow.

But that was more than five years ago.

Before the BMC raided most of the stalls in a bid to make the streets hawker-free. Now, there are just two-three vendors on the footpath opposite the VSNL building. And they're the ones I visited, to pick up some books for a shoot.

It was a bit like running into an old lover at a working lunch. Brisk, business-like and accompanied by a mutual voicing of those classic dubious words, "We should definitely do this again sometime."

I can hardly wait.

Comments

Rohit Talwar said…
I am jealous. Same areas in Delhi have either met with similar fate or have become disappointing. Sigh.
Ashish. said…
When the BMC cleared hawkers off my street in dadar, I was very happy. But my joy was short-lived. Firstly, cos the hawkers return minutes after the said BMC raids. Secondly, cos the same people cleared churchgate and fountain of booksellers. Miss those days sorely when I used to visit them often while i was in college, and later, on my way home from my first 2 jobs.

Bought Arnold's bodybuilding encyclopedia for a paltry Rs. 450 and many Wodehouses for Rs. 40 each. Not to mention, Albert Camus, Anthony Burgess, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Tintin, Asterisk, Woody Allen and more.

Sigh!

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