My Blog to Book project was delayed due to a massive shock I have had recently regarding a famous bookstore in my city which I visited a couple of days ago. It had been a place of solace, a well-laid out arena, laid back and quiet. Outstanding titles ensnaring you towards them, you looking around with a smile on your face, people looking at you understandingly and browsing for hours at a stretch. A small ‘chai-bar’ set out on an upper level offering hundreds of varieties of tea and coffee. It used to be a blissful experience.
When I went back there after a gap of a couple of months, it was hardly recognizable. On entering the store I was thrown aback by the amount of clutter that lay in front of my eyes. It seemed that the place must have been ripped apart by a hurricane. Then I looked closely. They were simply selves stacked with colourful merchandise. It looked like a place one designs to attract children during the summers when it is unbearably hot outside. I made my way in through the greatest crowd of people I had ever seen in a book store. The lay-out which had been well-preserved for so long had too been ripped apart. There lay large tables scattered with note books, graphic novels, and ‘un’-mention-worthy paperbacks. The place looked like a jumble sale at a tourist hot-spot or someone having a garage sale! I dared to venture in further. As the initial visual shock was wearing off, another took its place, this time it was auditory. The unmistakable hum in my brain had now exploded into full-fledged human voices; excited human voices, jabbering, chattering, laughing, sneezing, coughing! I looked at the upper level and saw a multitude of little beings and their mothers: every inch of the beloved ‘chai bar’ was infiltrated with brashness. I had never seen such a crowd inside a book store before, doing everything but touching books.
Seeing a lot of people inside the book store had initially set my spirits a little higher as I thought it represented a good sign that old-fashion reading material was going to exist for some more time before e-books took over completely. I walked into the newly set up narrower-and-difficult-to-maneuver sections and found copies of my favourite writes stacked without categorization. On top of everything, the employees were hardly interested in helping you out, probably because they didn’t know were the books were and were busy rearranging the coffee mugs for sale. A group of youngsters, about my age, who had been bustling around and pushing people suddenly started talking on top of their voices announcing their plans for the weekend from one corner of the bookstore to the other.
I could not find what I had been looking for and picked up a green and silver sheet of wrapping paper and went to the billing counter. As they set upon making my bill triumphantly (since they had accomplished what they wanted: to sell gaudy, multicolored merchandise at a revered bookstore) I asked the what was going on upstairs. “A SUMMER CAMP FOR KIDS,” they said. I had the first heart attack of my brief life that day. I AM SURE MANY MORE ARE TO COME. Is no place sacred? I wondered. I strike out my once-favourite bookstore from my list of sacrosanct places.