4. I never went to bed alone!

Continuing the confessions of a book lover…

Books have been a key part of my life. At home, I would invariably pick up a book from my home collection.

As a National Science Talent Scholar when I travelled during the college days (annual NCERT summer camp for NSTS students), I would have something from home – or pickup something from the AH Wheeler books stores at the railway station.  I guess I built my entire ‘Sudden’ library (Western stories by Oliver Strange) in that train travel!

My scholarships also gave me the seed money to build my book collection. I picked up the Scientific American hardbound collection from a book seller at the Kamalika market (Opposite IIT Delhi Main gate) – and even today have some of the choices titles in Physics and Engineering.

Post College, when I started my career in Metal Box, I was affectionately taken into the fold by my Kolkata based local guardians. My aunt and family were readers as well and I remember their bookshelf when I visited their home.

While at Kolkata, I was staying in a Chummery ( place where chums stay- old British slang) on the Little Russel Street – and found immediate succor in the British Council Library ( just a few buildings away) on Shakespeare Sarani.

There were 4 of us management trainees staying at the Chummery and we used to go for meals to various outlets in the surrounding area – including the Park Street. Oxford Book Store and Library on Park Street was a regal old outlet on the ground floor of Park Hotel.  It was here I discovered a lovely Bunter (Frank Richard’s) collection – and remember accessing some vintage Bunter titles like “Bunter & the Cannibals” in original hardback Cassells edition.  I remember this as one of the stories that I had missed out at St. Xavier’s collection!

Over the next few weeks, I discovered the 2nd hand book markets in Kolkata. Kolkata had a vibrant book reader community and there were several shops in the Park Street, Fancy Lane, New Market area. And it was all in a walking distance from the Chummery.

There was a small circulating library under a staircase in the New Market which had several earlier era comics – and an excellent collection of books.  The street market of Garihat-had several old book stalls and some still survive at the Gol Market crossing.  I picked up several Westerns – specifically, Louis L ’amour while at Kolkata. Unfortunately, some of these markets are a shadow of their original self that I had witnessed in the early 80’s.

Later, as I travelled across the nation, I was able to get books at various 2nd hand book shops, circulating libraries and bargain book stores.  Bangalore had some excellent book shops on MG Road – I picked up some of my Star Trek classic books from here; Hyderabad was replete with bargain book shops and I discovered them on my way to the hotel on Banjara hills – and came back to pick up some rare phantom and Tintin comics from their wares.

Finally, as a tribute to the reading culture in the nation,  I must share the following photograph of a reading library in Kerala – really admire the creativity of the architect and the people whose passion shaped this temple for book lovers!



The photograph was forwarded to me by my Kolkata Aunt – another voracious reader -, who has since moved to Coorg, after she read my posts on my journey in the land of books – and I see it fitting to close this post with the following quote shared by her:


#BigIdeas2021 Having reached 24 books/year; pursuing a personal improvement plan that enabled me to pick up a PhD/ several industry accreditations – what is the big idea 2021 with which I can take the next improvement leap?!

My Previous Posts on this reader’s journey:

http://india-inspires.com/?p=956       3.The Search Engine with a heart

http://india-inspires.com/?p=940       2.Discovering Paradise…. The Mumbai book journey

& http://india-inspires.com/?p=923   1.I Changed!


My future Post : The Treasure Trove at my door steps!


I will be talking more about this topic in my next post. You can subscribe to my newsletter (bottom of my page) so you don’t miss out.. or, To find out the moment my next post is available, follow me on Facebook or Linkedin or Twitter (xlAshwini)”



2 Responses

  1. Vineeth Abraham

    Really enjoying sharing your journey. It’s like reliving my own. More of the same, please.

    • Ashwini Aggarwal

      Thanks- the next leg starts our collaboration actions….