Tag Archives: books

That old book smell


Nothing can smell better than an old battered book. What’s better? The smell of an old battered book from an equally old book collection – right off the streets!

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The old book store, in Mylapore, opposite the iconic Kamadhenu theatre is a treat to book lovers and students. On a mountain of books sits a woman busily throwing at her customers the books they want.

The piles of engineering textbooks can be slightly unnerving for a non-science person, but when the clutter is cut through, the variety of classics and comics this mountain spews at you is amazing.

This platform book shop was started by Alwar nearly 50 years ago, now an old, bearded, almost saint-like man. Today, his smart assistant Mary runs the shop . Perched atop the mountain, Mary first curses us for interrupting her during peak time. But as we wait and simply watch her in action, she warms up to us.

The rains in the city have ruined some of the books and given some others a brilliant odour. As I wait for our elusive subject to talk to us, I come across an ancient copy of The Awakening, a novel by Kate Chopin written in 1899. The novel itself was explosive in content for the time and age that it was published in.  This feminist classic was made more precious by the notes of a previous owner.

The old book shop wasn’t merely an experience of street shopping. The shop itself is a story waiting to be discovered – stories that the books tell of the hands they’ve passed and the lives they’ve seen.

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