Little heavens of civilised pleasure: From Bangalore to Boi Para
Kolkata: Be it Avenue Road in Bangalore or College Street in Kolkata, both the places attract avid readers from all over the country.
Although the online markets for books were able to draw a gloomy face over the book sellers, both these places are still able to hold up their traditional history in book culture, selling a rare variety of books for affordable rates that the online start ups cannot afford to offer.
While other book shops carry a price tag, these places don't, the price of the books depends on the seller-buyer bargaining sessions.
It's the smell of old books and the fact that books go on to have a second life is the very essence of both these places.
Avenue Road is a locality in Bengaluru, one of the few places known for its traditional trade in used textbooks.
These shops are found on one side of the lane, with other one being homes and shops to others. These shops in Karnataka are more than 5 decades old. One can buy second-hand books and sell them in return of new books or money. It has around 70 bookshops and 350 street booksellers.
The category of books varies from fiction, textbooks and coaching books for many competitive exams. The wide range of textbooks on Avenue road attracts students from all fields and ready to travel from faraway places.
If you are a book lover and have visited the place for at least once, the scent of Avenue Road will never disappear from your memory. Kolkata, rich in its cultural heritage and literature, even to the present day, doesn't fail to attract ardent bibliophiles from all over the world to the largest second hand book market in India.
College Street, a mile long stretch of small and big bookshops spread across pavements, streets and by lanes, has a remarkable history of more than 200 years. The stretch of this bustling book market is so engaging and captivating that one can while away time by browsing through the stacks for hours.
College Street spans multiple genres like literary classics, British and American Literature, books on politics, Indian literature, educational textbooks, fiction, fantasy and self help books. This place witnesses a wide range of avid bibliophiles from all backgrounds and age groups. All of these ardent book lovers try their best to get their hands on both old and new books at reasonable prices after a 'must' bargaining session.
One cannot forget to mention the booksellers, while talking about the avid readers. The booksellers are so passionate that they call everyone walking around to have a good look at the walls piled up with books.
They simultaneously search for other books which the readers would be interested in and spew out titles by Tagore or Dicken's.
Apart from their distinct assemblage of various hits such as Dan Brown, one can find rare editions, bestsellers of yesteryears as well. It's the rarity of these books which motivates the bookworms to flock to pavements for throwaway prices. One cannot forget going to the traditional 300-year-old Indian Coffee House, which is considered the meeting place for city's intelligentsia.
This 'adda' provides a perfect ambience for variety of people. It used to be a favorite hang out for young poets, painters, writers, painters, filmmakers and politicians.
Remember to drop there for a cup of chai and samosa to get the essence of Kolkata. This stretch of books in College Street with the best to the rarest collections, has given it an endearing name 'boi para'.
A trip to Boi Para, the heart of Kolkata, is a must for every book lover in search of treasure chests of books and civilised pleasure. The satiety of buying books in ardent book lovers will not be fulfilled with one visit, it calls for another, again and again. Robert Southey once said, "My never-failing friends are they, With whom I converse day by day".