I squirmed unhappily when I read today that the New & Secondhand Bookshop at Dhobi Talao has closed down. This had been a regular haunt for me during my college days, when, unfortunately, when I coveted so many books in their collection, I made do with lovingly browsing them because my pockets were almost always empty in those days. I squirmed because of the thought that crossed my mind - that my inability to provide them custom when I could afford it partly contributed to their closure. While I regularly visit Strand, either at their flagship store off PM Road, somehow, I never did visit NSB since the time I graduated. Yet, the sheer joy I experienced when browsing for hours without a penny in my pocket to buy any book, was enough to immediately evoke pure nostalgia tinged with regret when I read the news of its closure.
I also remembered my uncle, Chaitanya D Haldipur, who had first pointed out NSB to me when I was probably still in school - he was also the first person I knew who undertook a project to plot our Family Tree - a task which I had the pleasure of completing last year, culminating in a 76-page self-published book. I was glad to remember him in the preface to that book (p6). I am equally happy to remember him now, as I write, for pointing out NSB to me. The lifelong love affair with books was nourished by my browsing experiences at NSB. I now realize that my uncle had subtly changed my life in more than one way. One of his daughters, Swati, now settled in the US, used to write a scrumptious blog called Khane bhi do yaaro till she got pre-occupied with bringing up her first child. Swati, if you read this, please know that at least one fan is waiting for you to resume writing soon!
106 years is a long time to run a bookstore - it was run by at least 3 full generations of the Vishrams. My thanks to the family that ran this unique institution - you have played a great role in my life, and I am sure, in the lives of many others, by inculcating a lifelong passion for books.