Today in eight hours I travelled eight years and back.
My first tryst with College Street began way back in 2000 when I was sent there hunting for some chemistry book not available in the then popular Park Street bookstores. I caught a cab with my benchmate and left for this forbidden, unexplored territory. My benchmate, a regular there, ensured we got the book out of our way in ten minutes and then devoted the next few hours poring through every small bookstall, browsing through his wares at display. Finicky about wanting books in mint condition I didn’t quite understand the love for a yellow-paged book with a weird smell. A closer look at these and you would find the first-editions of your favourite classics – a rare Bernard Shaw book or a Maugham novel. The entire obsession with new books was shattered in a matter of hours from walking down College Square to India Coffee House.
It’s been a while now. I moved on from hunting for books to a quick-browse-and-pick-up option at a modern format bookstore or worse still online. But today it was different. Today I walked down from College Square once again, not to buy books, though, but to inspect the Pujo sho-sha. With time in hand I couldn’t help but stop at every open bookstall and look at what he has on offer. Not that I was in the mood to hunt but I wanted to know. I was clicking pictures for a dream project, but more and more I began to remember what’s so special in a read book.
A read book makes you wonder what kind of person the previous reader would be. Why did he give the away? What did he feel while reading the book? Did he want more people to feel the same or was it a burden just seeing it read lie on his table day in and out? Did it become a part of who he is? Did he begin to identify with one character so much that he needed to move the book away in order to forget the character? Would I feel the similar urge?
At the end of this philosophical and high-held debate it just boiled down to the familiar touch of yellow pages and the old book smell. The warmth of the read book, the comfort that knowing someone before you has been here and you are safe. You are not alone.
Fresh-off-the-press is a delight to receive and the old book smell is a delight to indulge in.
Didn’t realise how badly I missed it till now – the read book feel, the library book wali feeling.