27 May 2007

Sunday at Daryaganj

So I was back at the book market on Sunday. Many months of break had done me good. The hunger was there. The book walahs were there too. Inspite of the heat. Some time back there was talk to putting an end to this market. Who comes up with these silly ideas?

This is place where I have spent many hours (over the years) and even found books sold by my friends who now recognize it on my shelf and claim it is theirs!! Some books have remained with me, the others I realized were probably bought at the fag end of the trip. At that point you have had too much water (or too little) and you pick up random books because you feel that you have not bought enough and this trip would be a failure. Like a hangover you regret buying those the next morning. Don't you have such books in your closet?

If you’ve been to the Daryaganj market you must have noticed three kinds of customers. There are students who look for all their chemistry study material (1998 edition will not do, 2005 OK). Then there are the wannabe fashion designers who come looking for their stuff – magazines (Catwalk, Designer etc). Then there are the addicts who will pick up anything old or hardbound and try to convince themselves why they should have it in their collection. These are types who also get excited with COBOL for Beginners (1990 ed), old sheets of perforated computer sheets and coloured bottles of any size. And conversations are priceless.

Of course the sellers recognize these categories. The minute they spot the addict they say – these I can I dump my old stuff. As soon as my friend and I picked up a couple of books - Peanuts and a cartoon book on the politics of Food (don’t ask me why I need that), the seller looked into our eyes and said – “I’ve got many of these, you have to look.” He waved his hand over his books. Like eager pups we looked for some time before we realized he was hoping that we might pick up some useless stuff and pay him 400 bucks for it.

Later I realized that I have become a veteran. I finished the entire trip and still had only one book in hand. Was leafing through it triumphantly while returning home. Maybe I will wake up on Monday and regret it.

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