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.