The Biggest Little Bookstore
This tiny little bookstore is a booklover’s dream come true. Situated right behind Spencer’s inside the Taj Connemara compound, the little bookstore called Giggles is has been listed by the Lonely Planet Guides as a “must see” place. I went there much before the hype about the place started eating up newsprint space. That was because a friend has recommended this little bookstore to me. According to her, this was one store I was likely to find all the obscure books I was looking for and if they don’t have them, which is a very rare occurrence, they will get it for me! How exciting!
So one day, I set off to see this bookstore alone with no company and lots of time to kill. Unfortunately, when I reached there, I was too early. At 10:30 in the morning, the shop hadn’t opened yet. There was also a jewellery store right next to it. The friendly shopkeeper from the jewellery store told me very helpfully that if I wanted books I could do to the bookstore at Spencer Plaza. I said thank you but didn’t take him seriously. After walking to and fro and sitting down for a while, I went to the Spencer’s bookstore. But I wasn’t going to go away without as much as a dekho of Giggles. I came back and the doors of the stores were just being creaked open.
Only two people were in the shop, the owner Nalini Chettur (in the picture) and an assistant. On either side of the store, there were no shelves, only books. Piled up high one on top of the other with only the spine visible so that you can read the name of the book. My head started spinning seeing the sheer number of books that were crammed into the space. I took my time to go through the titles on the spine. Then I would select one which the very obliging and skilful assistant would pull out from the stack and give it to me. Unfortunately, I am a very fussy reader and couldn’t find the book that I wanted. What I got however was a very enlightened bookseller who can discuss anything under the sun. I spoke about Marquez, Rushdie and Ché Guevara right there in between two towering shelves of books. Did I forget to mention? Only one person at a time can make it into the space between the book towers and if you like your food a bit too much, then you better stand sideways. Or else lose weight before you go on. There is not a better excuse on earth to lose those extra pounds!
There is one mystery though. Nalini sits at a desk that looks like it has been there from the beginning of time right at the back of the store. The books crowd around it like saplings under a tree. Some saplings though are trees themselves. It must take Harry Houdini to conjure up a new trick to come out of that space. But Nalini slipped in and out with dextrous ease. I asked her, “How did you come out from there?” And she gave me a mysterious smile like a magician who was asked to reveal her tricks and said, “That is a secret!” I drove myself crazy trying to fit in the architecture of the room (longitudinal), the space available (a little more than half a meter) with the laws of physics (don’t remember the exact law – never said I was good at physics) and gave up! This was a temple of books. Who knows maybe it has it own magic realism going on here!
It turned out that Nalini Chettur is also a woman with an elephantine memory. She remembered some of my friends who had been to her store some time back.
Do you know what I secretly wish? I wish I could convince her to start branches of her store in different parts of the city and I would willingly manage one of them for her. Alas, but there is only one Giggles and only one “biggest little bookstore”! I came away from the afternoon trip with a lighter wallet and a richer memory of the day.
Image courtesy: The Hindu