For more than 20 years now, a small street library and bookshop has been the chosen refuge for bibliophiles in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Extension. And there’s a wide array to choose from — from Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare to Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon and Stephen King.
"Those who like to be lost in the world of the written word will certainly find something to their taste," promises the diminutive owner, Vinay Mishra.
The residents of the co-operative group housing societies in the area feel strongly attached to this shop. While for some, the library is pure nostalgia, for others, it means cheap access to good reads.
NP Radhakrishnan, RWA president of Samachar Apartments, says, “Today, you can buy books and magazines from various places — you have a plethora of online resources too. But back then, this small street library was the only place close by to look for books.”
Some 23 years back, Mishra, a postgraduate in Sociology, arrived in Delhi from Bihar’s Siwan district looking for a job. He started earning his keep by distributing papers and magazines to two apartments — Samchar and Nirman. And gradually, as he endeared himself to the residents and they got to know him better, the book shop was born, with mostly second-hand novels and magazines donated by residents. Searching for words, Mishra says, “These residents have supported me in every way possible. Without them, I could have done nothing.”
The help he gets is essential for his survival. “Whenever a policeman or an MCD official demands a bribe or asks me to shut shop, I know I can just walk into Samachar Apartments, where quite a few journalists live — and they have always come out in my support. I am grateful to them,” Mishra says.
Remembering the librarian's initial years of struggle, SK Bahuguna, a resident of Glaxo Apartments, recounts, “I still remember how this young man would circulate newspapers and magazines in the morning. And now, he has a book shop to call his own. Today, it can almost be called a library, where one can find literary collections of almost all great writers.”
A regular at his stall, Ridhima Dev, a BSc student and a resident of Upkar Apartments, says, “Whenever I need a book, I come here. In case the book I want is not available, I ask the librarian to get it for me. And he usually has it in about two days.” She adds, for fiction and non-fiction, one has to keep a security deposit of Rs 300, which is refunded once the book is returned.
Kindle will have its takers, but will the feel of timeworn pages ever lose their hold? Not to the eager visitors of Mishra’s beloved book shop.