Saturday, May 30, 2009
The first one which I will describe is in the heart of the Mumbai, The Fort area. Currently there is no Fort in this area, but there was in the early days of Nineteenth Century. The Fort has long gone since then, for making space for civilian and other buildings, and now only the name remains.
There are too many things in the small area which are of interest to me. I cannot maybe describe them all in this blog. Maybe, The Fort, needs a blog entirely for itself. But lets not divulge too much into it, as right now the thing that we are interested in are the Candy Shops for Bibliophiles. The Fort area presents the bibliophiles with a wide opportunity to shop, right from the old/used books to one of the quite old shops in Mumbai the Strand Books.
I recommend that you start from the CST [Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly known as Victoria Terminus or VT] and take on the D N Road [Dadabhai Nowrojee Road]. Start walking from the Western end of the road, the end at which Mc Donalds is present. Almost right up to the Flora Fountain, one finds a sort of subway created by the arches of the buildings of Victorian architecture.
Along these corridors there are a lot of proper book stores. Some notable among them are the Computer Book Shop, Bookzone, Ashish Book Stores.
See the map below. Ashish Book Stores also have a annual exhibition in which you get lot of books at heavily discounted prices. Usually the book fair is at the Sunderbai Hall, near Churchgate.
On the other side of the road is the Sterling Book Stores, which will give you an enormous variety of technical books to get. They have substantial sections on Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy and Psychology. In most of these shops you will get about upto 10-15% discount on the list price.
Along the corridor you may find one or two old book sellers. One at very beginning and one may be in the middle of the passage. They were frequent a few years back. I got my copy of Albert Einstein : Philosopher and Scientist here in these shops. In fact a lot of old booksellers were present till a few years back, most of them now being removed, I guess in the anti-encroachment drive. But the walk through these 'corridors' is worth for the books that await you at the end of this walk.
You can drop by to the Khadi Bhavan, which is on the way to do some nice shopping. If you take a left turn at the Khadi Bhavan Chowk, it will lead you to Strand Booksellers. They have good collection of books on all subjects. You won't find too technical books here, but books for general reading are more than abundant. Every year Strand people have the Strand Book Festival, which is a must visit. The book fair is usually during January end of February beginning, at the Sunderbai Hall, Near Churchgate. Huge discounts are on the offering in this mania of books. So make it a point to visit it!!
Now, if you go straight this will lead you to the American Express Building. Along side the walls of this building are the old book sellers. A few years back they were quite spread out, some of them had shops along the walls of the High Court building also. But now they have been contained in this small pocket here.
The sellers here are quite knowledgable about the books that they keep. They know the books by title and author. Some also make it a point to keep the books according to authors. The books most of the times are neatly classified by geners or subjets. They know almost all books by Arthur C Clarke and Carl Sagan. The more popular a book, more are the chances that you might find them here. But sometimes you get jewels here. I got my Why's of a Philosophical Scrivener by Martin Gardner here.
The book sellers also have a library system, which means that after reading the book you can return the book and get some amount back. But who wants to depart with a book, especially if you are a bibliophile? The most common books that you will get here are the novels of all kinds. Bargaining can be done, and you can get books in quite cheap rates, especially if you are a regular.
The best time to visit is a late Sunday afternoon. When you can have all the time to browse through endless piles of books, to find what you are searching for.
One thing that you might miss on a Sunday is that many of the proper book shops mentioned above including Sterling and Strand, and the Khadi Bhandar are closed on Sundays. But the advantage to go on Sunday is a drastic reduction in the crowd that is present on the weekdays. So if you want to visit them all, the best day is a Saturday.
Till last year some sporadic old book shops were also present along the footpaths, of the Old Bombay University Building, the side on the opposite to FabIndia and Globus, near Kala Ghoda end. Here some of the sellers used to sell books for a cheap but fixed price. Some of lots would have Rs. 10/20/30 for a book. Sometimes I have found quite interesting titles here. But recently in a last few months I did not find these stalls. Maybe they were removed from there permanently. I have also found similar shops along walls of the Post and Telegraph Office. But they are not always there. If you are lucky you probably might get them.
While returning to CST do not forget to visit the Fort Book Distributors, opposite the main entrance to CST [Legend 2 in the map]. This is a unique proper book shop which also sells old/used books at quite cheap prices. They also have exhibition and sales of books at different places in Mumbai, so keep an eye out for them in the newspapers. My last visit to their FBD Book Fair was quite fruitful.
So much for the south part of Mumbai. In next post I will cover the Old Book sellers in the so called college district of Mumbai, the Matunga Area.
Till then happy book hunting!!
Update: As per comment of Square Peg below, I have not mentioned the New and Secondhand Book Shop. Yes! It is there from quite some time if I remember correctly since early days of last century and I did not know about it.
Only recently I came to know about it from Arvind Gupta. And I have not mentioned it. I was going to… but procrastination has its own strange ways in which it works…
So here it is :
The New and Second Hand Book Shop:
For this wonderful shop go to the Metro Cinema Square. There is a shop of musical instruments opposite Metro Cinema [well not exactly opposite, but across the street]. So when you keep your back towards Metro and are standing in front of this Music Store, start walking along the road towards right. After a few shops you have a lane going to left of the road. Just at this corner is the New and Second Hand Book shop. But beware the entrance is a bit small. Two times it happened that I went and saw that the shutters were down so just came back. Third time when I went there, I saw somebody coming out of what I thought was a closed shop. So this is where I discovered the entrance to the shop. They are open till 7 in the evening and closed on sundays.
Visiting the shop makes you feel as if you are visiting an old library. The shop has books lined up nicely according to subjects. The shelves have subject labels on them. Browsing through the shelves can, at times, become tedious. The section on social sciences is quite large. You get 30% discount on all the new books. For the old books the prices are mentioned on the cover and on that you get additional 30% discount. Most of the books are more than reasonably priced; they are cheap :). Also don't forget to visit the second floor also.
So do visit this shop, till then happy book hunting…
[Map coming soon]
Pune has a large student population. The are some very good colleges in Pune. Apart from the standard colleges, there are a large number of courses being offerred by different institutions. Academically speaking I am a product of Pune. Both my alma mater are here. The first one being grand old Fergusson College and then the Department of Physics at the University of Pune. Coming to Pune from Nagpur was a transitive phase for me.
Well here I experienced lot of things which I would not have had, had I been not here. Anyways coming back to the main issue. Since Pune has a large student population, there are a large number of bookshops, publishers to support them.
The most famous area is the Appa Balwant Chowk [अप्पा बळवंत चौक] , popularly known as ABC. This area is in the heart of Old City. The area around ABC is literally overflowing with old and new book shops. But alas most of the books that you get here are the standard ones, Nirali, VBD, Manali types. But anyways, this is what most of the students are looking for. And also you can sell your old books here. With some booksellers there is a library system available, you can get about 50% money back when you return the books after you have used them. Only rarely you will stumble across books which do not form a part of any standard syllabus. You can bargain here.
Open throughout the day.
But apart from this there are a few other sellers which I want to tell you about. They are Mr. Prabhakar and Co. Major chunk of my own collection comes from them. These booksellers do not have a permanent shop as such but are basically street vendors. They sit at the Deccan end of the Sambhaji Bridge [संभाजी पुल ], also known as the Lakdi Pul [लकड़ी पुल ]. Be careful not to take your two wheeler on this bridge, this only a three and more wheeler bridge!
Mr. Prabhakar with his road side stall, at Deccan End of Sambhaji Bridge.
Now if you are a true book-lover this is the time to get the books. Keep an eye out for the books that they are taking out of their bags. As soon as you find something interesting keep it aside. That is the strategy that I had adopted when I was in the town. I have myself got quite a few good books from them. I hope you too, along with a lot of Mir/Russian titles. They are open all days of the week in the evenings till about 8:30 pm.
Apart from these there are few proper bookshops in Pune which you can visit.
International Book Store, Deccan Gymkhana, just opposite to Mr. Prabhakar.
They have some good sections on technical books, literature, and humanities. Also there is an annual sale, in which many books are sold very cheaply, so keep an eye out for that. 10-15% discount on the list price. Legend 1 in the map.
Popular Book Shop, Deccan Gymkhana, along the same side of the road as International. As the name suggests mostly popular books, the kind of ones which you will get in Crossword. But worth a visit. 15 % discount on the list price, but no discount if you pay by card. [Legend 2 in the map.]
Just around the corner from Popular Book Shop is the famous Good Luck Restaurant, one of the few Irani Cafes left in the city. Don't forget to have some mouthwatering delicacies there. Do try Bun-Maska there! [Legend 4 in the map]
Universal Book Stores, Kelkar Road
As soon as you leave the Z Bridge coming from Deccan take a left turn, and if you go straight for about 50 meters, you will find Universal Book Stores on the right hand side of the road. This is _the_ technical book store around. You can get almost all books in print here. Plus upto 20% discount on the list price. Here is where I first saw Gravitation by Misner, Wheeler and Thorne in a shop.[Legend 3 in the map.]
Finally, Manney's Book Store in Clover Centre, Camp. This is the most comprehensive of them all. You get books on all subjects under the sun. And they have a huge collection of them. Perfect combination of quality as well as quantity. Upper floor is for technical books. Just to look around the complete shop, will take quite some time. You DON'T get any discount. Pay as per the list price, but a must visit.
PS: Just next to Manney's is The Place, one of the better joints for sizzlers in the city, so after a long shopping at Manney's treat yourself with beers and sizzlers here.
Photos of other sites along with maps will be added soon.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I am a bibliophile. You can read about it here. Well in this series I will give information about the old, used book seller markets that I have visited so far.
I will begin with my hometown of Nagpur [नागपुर] where I started collecting books. The old book market in Nagpur is in the heart of the city near Variety Square, Sitabardi [सिताबर्डी]. There was a old cinema named Variety when I was a kid, now this has been replaced by a multiplex. Very near to this is the Maharaj Baug Zoo [महाराज बाग प्राणीसंग्रहालय].
Now this place is not only the heart of city but also the heart of India, literally speaking. The Zero Mile [label 6 in the map] is just about 200 meters from this place. The Zero Mile in Nagpur is supposed to the geographical centre of India. See the map below.
Initially the book sellers were quite spread around this area, with book shops being setup on either side of the road, but now they have been restricted mostly to the western side [right side of the road if you start from Variety Square towards Zero mile] of the Residency Road and a pocket on the eastern side of the road. Now since a flyover is constructed here you an get down the flyover and park the vehicle just in front of where the major book sellers are situated. Morbhavan [मोरभवन] the Depot for City Bus is just 100 meters from Variety Square. Also this is very near to the place where shooting incidence of Gowari tribals happened some years back. There is a memorial for this just after the book shops end. And you can see a Giant Orange telling that you are in the Orange City.
But I recommend that you start from the Sitaburdi Police Station which is at N-W corner of Variety Square [label 1 in the map]. Keep walking and you will see some book shops on the pavement and footpath of the road. Much further ahead just as the walls of the Patwardhan High School end, you will find about a dozen or so shops, well stacked with books of every kind.
Here are some of photos from my last trip.
The most abundant books that you will get here, as is the case with any other used books shop are the ones required for degree/diploma courses. Mostly these are second grade books written with just one intention of passing the exams the likes of VBD, Pragati etc. And of course there are books for various types of exams. And then there are host of magazines which find there way here.
But to get some really good stuff you will have to hunt through what seem like endless stacks of books. Then suddenly like an epiphany you will find a gem of a book. As far as Mir/ Russian publication books are concerned Delhi and Bombay are dying out, I have not found many in these cities so far. But Nagpur is an exception. Everytime I go there are Mir/Russian publications always to be found.
Apart from the Russian publications some times I have found quite some good books here. After all I began my collection from here. A few of the notable books that I have brought recently from here include the Flora of Marathwada Vol 1 and 2, Handbook of Optics Vol 1 and 2.
Mostly you will have to bargain for the prices that the book sellers quote. They will decide the price by seeing you and your interest in the book. A good way is to start at the halfway mark. But it depends on how seriously you want the book. A good strategy is to take more than one book and then bargain, this way you probably will get it cheaper [cheaper by the dozen?].
As soon as you enter this arena, many of the sellers might call you, to their shops, it can be a bit intimidating if you are not used to it. But anyways they mean no harm.
Just on the opposite side of these sellers is one of the oldest book stores in Nagpur, the Nagpur Book Depot [label 2 in the map]. You can just go there and see if can find something interesting there. They give about 10-15% discount on the list price.
Along this side of the road there are two further old/used book shops, which might harbour some gems. So don't miss them when you go back to variety square.
Best time to go is on a lazy afternoon. The shops don't open too early in the morning so don't go too early. They stay on till the daylight allows the books to be seen. Open on all days of the week.
In the next part of this series we will explore some of the old book shops in Pune.
Till then happy book hunting...
एक होती चिमणी. पण तिला घरटे नव्हते. एकटीच होती ती. तिला कोणीच खेळायला पण नव्हते. एकटीच ती तर सगळं जग फिरायला निघालेली. रोज जेवढे जमेल तेवढे दुर जायचे, अाणि रात्र झाली की झोपायचे. दुसऱ्या दिवशी सकाळ झाली की भुर्र उडुन जायचे. पोट भरेल ईतके चरायचे. दिवसा नंतर रात्र, मग पुन्हा दिवस. रोज चिमणीचे असेच चालायचे. कोणी मित्र नाही, कोणी सखा नाही.
कोई ये कैसे बताए की वो तन्हा क्यों है?
काल रात्री ती चिमणी अामच्या घरी अाली. तिने मला प्रश्न विचारला "तु कोण?"
"तु काय करतोस?"
"सध्या तुझ्याशी बोलतो अाहे."
"बाकी काय करतोस?"
"तसे काही विशेष नाही."
अचानक तिथे एक मांजर अाली अाणी तिने चिमणीला खाऊन टाकलं...
बाकी ऊरले ते फक्त विखुरलेले पंख....
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The toys in my possession
From the left
Canon Powershot S2IS, 12 X optical zoom, 5 MP sensor
Sony Alpha 200 DSLR, 18-70 mm Lens, 10 MP Sensor
Canon EOS 500 N SLR, 75-300 mm Lens, Film Based
Sony Alpha 350 DSLR, 75-300 mm Lens, 14 MP Sensor [With Live Preview!!]
Need to have some macro lenses soon...
Shot Taken with the so called King of Camera Phones the Nokia N82 [5 MP with Xenon Flash]!!