3. The Search Engine…with a heart!

Year 1968, Dad got promoted and transferred to departmental Head Quarters. We left Uran for Jaipur where I was duly admitted to Nirmala School in Class 4th – and then subsequently into St Xavier’s Jaipur.

Xaviers was an amazing school- far bigger than the other schools I had attended – with a sprawling campus and a majestic, awe-inspiring façade. It was here I discovered ‘libraries’ as they should be.

Xaviers had an amazing library on it’s ground floor – full of open shelves lined with books. We could read during the library hour – and borrow books for reading at home. The book collection was amazingly rich and included a rich collection of the children’s’ favorites like Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Ken Holt…and more. It was here I discovered my taste of British humor with Williams and his innocent naughtiness…and Billy Bunter with the Grey Friar gang!

The school had an inspiring culture – and a set of excellent teachers. I remember my English Grammar lessons with Mme Francis taking us thru our Wren & Martin – and the English Literature was a treat with Ian Serraillier

stories like ‘Jungle Adventure’ , ‘Making Good’ , ‘The adventures of Dick Varley…’.and more..

I remember spending quite a lot of my free time at the library. And I recall that when I started, I just used to take a bunch of magazines and books for reading and …read. The librarian was a nice mid-aged man who must have noticed me sitting to one side with a pile and reading. And I remember he once came over and asked how I was enjoying the books – and suggested that there were some nice story magazines in a shelf close by. I remember him suggesting with a smile that I could pick up any book – read it and then return it and then start another one. I blushed and thanked – and he was nice enough to let that young boy sit and read without further interruption! I did discover the books that he mentioned – and somewhere along the line I did correct my habit of hoarding books in front of me while reading. It happened naturally without any acrimony or guilt feeling. Somewhere, that fanned my affection for the library a lot more…and I grew into a more patient, voracious reader…I do not remember the name of the librarian – but the above quote is a tribute to him -and other librarians who shaped my reading journey.

Another library that I loved the library at St. Stephen’s College- a  Classic 2 level library with the reading hall as you enter – and a book issue section at the extreme right, that looked something like the visual image above.  It was at Stephen’s that I started off on and self-development books – and discovered Jeeves in its Wodehouse collection!

The third library that fanned the flame was the British Council Library (BCL) – it used to be on Rafi Marg, Delhi then. It is a lovely library (in multiple cities – I was a member at Kolkata as well) and I used to go there in the bus – and its rich collection of classics, self-development books was amazing. It was here that I picked up a book on ‘learning to type’ and I clicked away on my grandfather’s portable typewriter and learnt typing over a few months on my own…a skill that I used extensively in my college days -and thru my life till date. It was at BCL I picked up a book on BASIC computer programming -and learnt my first programming language!

In all these libraries – it was great to see open shelves where content could be accessed freely by young, parched souls like me. And I remember sitting in the library soaking in the atmosphere and enjoying a book – and then travelling home via the University Special Bus with multiple bags loaded with the books from College and BCL…

And – all the ‘reading’ was changing me…

#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?!




4 Responses

  1. Vineeth Abraham

    Lovely post , Ashwini. You preempted me. The next post I’m working on is specifically about libraries, though libraries and books figure in almost all my posts. After all these were the most important and loved institutions that dominated our childhood and shaped us.

    • Ashwini Aggarwal

      Yes, Vineeth-love it when u read my posts and leave a comment. I think our journeys have a lot of parallels -and I am sure that, between us, we will end up creating a fascinating travelogue.

  2. Alok Dube

    Nice to read about and look at the pictures of some beautiful libraries. I have been a member of several libraries but none like those described in your post. Most of the libraries that I encountered were poorly maintained government libraries with bored disinterested librarians. But they have books and that mattered most.

    • Ashwini Aggarwal

      Understand your perspective – have been to those type as well. However, I have a simple rule in life – to look at the more positive side – and I find that there is plenty to be positive about. I plan to share some elements of my reading journey – and then shift gear into the impact of reading on my life…and with good tips on how it can be combined with spatial visualization to dramatically change one’s learning pace/capacity. Since u have shown an interest, may I suggest u fill in the subscribe button at the bottom of the home page – and you will get my ‘inspired’ posts automatically as I release them.

      Warm Regards