By Ishan Kukreti
Every city has some lesser known hangouts which not everyone knows about. Be it Petr Cat in Kolkata or Kala Ghora in Mumbai, such places are rare gems which remain unsullied by crass commercialism or mainstream banality.
One such break from the usually fast and forgetful national capital is Daryaganj Sunday book bazaar. Stretching from where once a boldly grim iron foot-over bridge stood to Delight cinema, a rare single screen theater in the capital, the book market is a reader’s sanctuary.
From Sartre to Sheldon, from Macbeth to Mills and Boon, the couple of kilometers of footpath between the two end points is one of the very few market places where books outnumber readers.
However, if one is of a lesser literary mind and likes to keep the reading habit under control, the market offers other attractions too.
Old Delhi street food, famous for its mouth watering dishes finds ample space in Daryaganj to feed the hungry body of a literary seeker.
The place is no less than an open air super market. There is stationery on the footpath, quirky characters worth being in the books they so nonchalantly buy and sell.
Mani, who now operates from the patch of footpath next to Moti Mehal restaurant says,” I have been selling books here for more than 15 years now. My father had been doing the same for around 30 years. He is not well now, so I am taking care of business alone.”
He has some of the best collections.
The sellers of Daryaganj get their stock from embassies, hotels and raddiwalas. Sometimes when an old bookworm pops off leaving behind a progeny not smitten by bibliophilia and a lots of books, the unclaimed paper legacy invariably makes its way on the footpath of Daryaganj; a place where even the litter is more significant than the lives of many a man.