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Posted in Photo Essay | 25 comments

A Reader’s Paradise

Recently I was on a ‘touristy’ trip to South Bombay with Neha. She was sweet and patient enough to spare time for me and  take me on a mini-tour of the lovely city. She even let me behave like a tourist.! I was slow.. in walking, exploring and absorbing the beauty. First stop was Fort and this post is about the lovely book-shops lined up there, awaiting you to enter the magical world of words and stories and sagas and secrets. I have seen many books shops before – big and small, but these were different. They looked more attractive, they felt more warm. 


No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.  ~Ann Landers


Old books have their own charm.. the reassuring fragrance, the rustic color of the pages, an faded book mark, the remains of a dry Rose, the scribbled notes that tell a story. 

Books – old or new, are truly magical. A classic that is torn yet forever green, a collection of war stories that are full of violence and heart touching anecdotes, a coffee-table book that is always a journey into another world, a hard bound mythological volume that comes as a family legacy, a fictional love story that wants to come alive, a real life inspired novel about death. Books do not just carry words, they are a story in their own. 

I am a slow reader – I take time to finish books that I start reading. Often, I pick up books recommended by others and often, others have lent me books which they thought I would like. When asked what I want as a gift on an occasion, I like to ask for books. When I am alone in the house on a cozy weekend, I look forward to immersing myself in the wise world of words. I wouldn’t say I am very well read, but I am always on the look out for something to hold between my palms, in front of my eyes, appealing to my mind, touching my heart. When I walked by these shops that I have captured in my camera, I was mesmerized. And here’s what I came back with: 

25 Comments

  1. What a day it was 🙂 For me, it was a very much nostalgic tour as I have lived in that area for a few years. And of course it’s a paradise for book lovers. Next trip should be for buildings of Bombay. What say?

  2. Swati the hordes of books captured by you look to me like treasures waiting to be explored–alas there is so little time to do that!

    • Yes! That’s what I felt when I saw them.. Even a lifetime is not enough to gather the wisdom that these books can impart.

  3. The books captured by you really makes them irresistible! Nice Work. Keep it UP!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Samik! What kind of books do you enjoy reading the most?

  4. Love the post. Love the pictures even more.

    Books have been my best friends for as long as I can remember. Flipping through old books bring back so many prized memories 🙂

  5. You took me right back to the days when I used to go to Fort to attend my classes in Davar’s. In those days, they were there on weekdays too but Sundays used to be a virtual expo of old books. I would dawdle and browse and pick up books for as little as Rs5. And do you know what? The shopkeeper would know the value of the book, even though he might not look well-read at all. He would pronounce the name of the foreign author of that particular treatise on Macbeth and inform you that it was perhaps the only one of its kind available in India and that he would not part with it for anything less than Rs.30, a fortune, I could ill afford then!

    Oh, the mention of Fort and the pics of all those spines and stacks took me all the way back to those days! Thank you so much 🙂

    • This time, I was too mesmerized and busy clicking that we were short of time to actually purchase anything! But next when I go there, I am planning to keep a couple of hours aside just to soak myself in one of the shops and pick up some treasure!

  6. OMG That’s a lot of books. I have done some raste ka book shopping in Mumbai myself when the pockets were light but the desire to read was strong :).

    • Have you been to these shops? They are worth a visit.. It just looks so magical! Nothing like what I have seen before. It was quite an experience 🙂

    • Yes, some of them when I was in college many years ago. The smell of books is heady :).

  7. And I remember always taking the longest time in crossing those footpaths, cos i could never let go of any bargains there.. I heard a lot of these shops were shut down? Awesome pics swati.. keep it up..

    • Thank you 😀

      This was my first visit so I am not sure how many existed before but there weren’t too many..only about 8-10 I guess.

  8. I can spend an entire day at a bookstore or tuck my legs on a comfy sofa with a book and endless cups of coffee. What kind of books do you like?

    • Same here! Books are so enriching in every way.. I read varied stuff.. Mainly recommendations from friends 🙂 And you?

  9. You have captured the images so beautifully that the aroma of the books comes through! My old haunts! Have spent hours there! Thank you for the walk down these lovely memories!

    • Glad you enjoyed it. We should go on a photography walk together sometime.. I will get to learn something from you!

  10. lovely post!! i have spent countless hours happily browsing through books there on the road at Fort!! and that was when the place was even more of a booklovers paradise… absolutely filled with shops like these before the authorities stepped in and made the rest of them disappear… and in those days, i never had enough money to buy books, so these helpful shopkeepers had a solution.. we bought books from them for a nominal amount, and then returned them the next time we went, got some part of it in return, and got another book if we wanted.. sort of like a library..except on the road!

    • Thanks for sharing this! I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been when there were more shops like these! I plan to visit this place regularly.. Just because it’s an experience in its own 🙂

  11. That is a lottttttttt of booksssss wow you had a good day….

    • Oh yes! It was a brilliant experience. I have never seen anything so enchanting before 🙂

  12. I like the angles and the editing done. Very nicely captures the old worldly charm of the words inside them.

    • Thanks, Bikku! It was far more amazing than what the photos could capture!

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