Yesterday I went on record about the WEBSERA takeover that hasn’t managed to escape Genow. While there’s no denying that web series are the thing of today, the Thursday throwback vibe took me a step back to something that hasn’t entirely changed despite our need for speed. It’s the B in books; although e-books are all over the internet, there lies a special place in this city which doesn’t just house books but captures the spirit of Bombay(or Mumbai, if you would call it) that oozes in its nooks and crannies.
Read on the essence of the city through the tale of Bombay bookery …
Taking the road on foot from Oval Maidan, a sanctum sanctorum for budding sportsmen, a jogger’s park of sorts for locals by sundown, and a mere intersection point for many Churchgate-Fort pedestrians. An onlooker is bound to pause for a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the Rajabai Clock Tower set against the maidan. Syncing in the breeze, the bell echoes in the open yard upon striking a time!
Walking away from the heritage building, as one enters the lane turning towards Siddarth College, a brick-wall building that goes back a long way in time, what immediately captivates every eye’s attention from that point is the classic Flora Fountain sculpture, standing at 10 steps detour from the ancient college.
The pavement adjacent to the sculpture of the Roman Goddess is what marks the starting point of what I call Bombay bookery.
Built on neatly stacked pile of books, to the level of a full store book collection view to the buyer; the shops devised next to each other are separated by a common book wall and tied together by the strings of co-existence.
While one is allured by the systematic approach of these magnificent offline stores, the sellers’ wit and knowledge of authors’ works from Charles Dickens to Chetan Bhagat is enough to give you a heart-stop moment.
Characterized by innumerable books; from classics to contemporaries, sepia-rustics to whitewashed pages, hardbound covers to paperbacks, the market caters to every book junkie. Having existed long before online stores came into play, the books are priced to woo everyone from a hand to mouth reader to an Ostrich reader indulging in page-turners. The market offers a 50% cashback(Also a policy long existent before the commencement of online stores ) on return, signifying the city’s fast paced business approach.
Bargaining skills and a fair knowledge of the open book market prices come handy. The sellers are happy to build clients on low pricing, but when offered a below profit price offer they don’t shy away from sarcasm. “Aap free mein hi rakh lo(Keep it for free of cost, instead),” is their pet statement.
The stamps, signatures and weathered pages of the books transport you back in time; the aroma of books leave you pondering over the number of places it has travelled before it reached you. The breezy shops and its owners personifying the traits of this city in appearance and demeanour respectively build the crux of what Bombay is all about.
The next time you visit or bypass the Bombay bookery, don’t miss the sound of the city it echoes.