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My Own Treasure Trove
Feb 17, 2009 12:34 AM 2983 Views
(Updated Feb 17, 2009 01:20 PM)

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“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.”--Henry Ward Beecher

I loved the movie You've Got Mail... absolutely loved it to bits, and my favorite scene was the one where Kathleen goes to Fox Books and is sitting upstairs in the children's section. Upon overhearing a woman asking for "the Shoe books", Kathleen tells the employee that the books are written by Noel Streatfeild.

Kathleen advises the woman to start with the Ballet Shoes, because it is her favorite, although the skating shoes are "completely wonderful".

Most of you who would have read my posts by now would know my almost fanatic obsession with books. To me they are not just tomes of paper with a story inside, but living breathing beings, with a story that breathes, talks, laughs and cries.

I remember, post the Chanda Mama, Nandan, Archies era, and reading the books which were available in the school library, my first purchase was a second hand copy of Pride and Prejudice from a road side vendor in Karol Bagh.

The book was almost in tatters, but it had all the pages, and was, for that time at least (and maybe is even now) my most prized possession. I went on to read Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Gone with the wind and so on and so forth... buying them from various book shops in and around Delhi. But somehow all around, the callous indifference of the shop owners towards the book, their sheer apathy towards those literary gems used to put me off.

I mean, C'mon, other than the classics, would you not want someone who should be in the know, to recommend (at least at times) what to read, specially in the modern or Indian writers? Whereas in all these bookshops which I used to frequent, most of the staff didnt even know where most of the books were kept, forget recommending what to read. I mean, you do need that helful tap on the shoulder, pointing out where to look, coming and sorting through the books with you, if you know what I mean.

Anyways, that didnt stop me from building up my meagre collection, though to be honest, during those years, I used to play safe while buying books, only if the book came recommended by someone whose judgement I trusted, would I buy it. And then one day I chanced upon New Book Depot in B-Block CP... well, it would be fair to say I ventured inside this imposing bookstore (somehow calling it a shop kinda goes against the rulebooks) with high ceilings and large, rosewood shelves.

The spacious interiors which always seemed intimidating to me from the outside were home to scores of books. I stepped inside and was stunned and soothed by the silence, while the books seemed to beckon me, their wooden sleeves almost opening their arms to welcome me to their hearts... in short the environment was absolutely spell binding.

I just picked up a Nora Roberts (for the uninitiated, she writes non-serious fiction, the kind I love to read), and went towards the cash counter, where the owner, a man in his late forties, was sitting, reading a book... Near him was a stack full of books titled new arrivals. While he was running up my bill, I was just running my hands over the books... (this is one of my idiosyncrasies, I adore the feel of books, the smell of paper, old leather, its heavenly).

And I saw the owner looking at me with a twinkle in his eyes. "That one is a good book", said he, referring to Kite Runner. "I am not at all fond of these new age writers", said I."Ma'am, trust me, all my customers who have read this book told me how wonderful they find it". There, I had heard the magic words, "Trust me".

Here was someone, whom I not only saw reading, but who also seemed to discuss books with his customers, who actually seemed to come back, for further discussions. I bought the book, and while packing it for me, he told me, "I hope you take care of your books." This was indeed music to my ears :)

Well, needless to say, I loved The Kite Runner, and went back, to be introduced to the lovely world of Steinbeck, Dostovesky, more of Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Paulo Coellho, Amitav Ghosh and so on... I still remember, The White Tiger was recommended much before (ok, a week before) it won the Booker, as was Sea of Poppies by Amitava Ghosh.

I found my Sophie's Choice there, and Roots which some friends gifted me. But the real happiness and contentment comes along when I look at a new book or author, (like I did with Vikram Chandra this shopping trip), and receive a nod of encouragement from Mr Rakesh Chandra (for thats his name), that yes, he has read it, and it is good.

I have been gently introduced to Hemingway this time as well, and we have left Thoreau for another time. And, its not just all about fiction, you can find books on Palmistry, Astrology, Cooking, Pediatrics, the list is endless. You name a book, its most likely to be there, if not, you will be guided towards the source.

To sum up my long, rambling saga, New Book Depot is the place for you if you like your books and your discussions, at times arguments fresh. But like all services, its the owner who makes the difference. He and his staff are what make the place special.

Almost as strict a disciplinarian as the soup nazi, this man knows his reads amazingly well. You name an author, he parries with another. He suggests titles and actually dissuades purchases (gotta love that), and a long conversation with him is always fun.

So, on next trip to CP, do check this one out, and if you are anything like me, you are likely to emerge with a semi-heavy plastic bag in hand, wearing the proud smile of a triumphant explorer. Only, be careful with the books, for you might just receive a rap on the knuckles otherwise.

*The Address is,

New Book Depot,

18-B, Connaught Place,

New Delhi - 110001

Ph - 23320020, 23755124*

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New Book Depot - Delhi