I am searching for a cheap lending book library near my office in Delhi. In vain. In Delhi cheap and near-by are two alien concepts, which the city or its population never seems to have heard of. Anyways while searching in the Internet and asking people around, I cant help but compare the situation with Kolkata.
If I say every nook, crany, para (moholla) of Kolkata has its own pet library and book lending facility I would not be exgarrating at all. Read on a bookworm's experience.
A bookworm like me could hardly be satisfied with the ration of one book per week that our school library had fixed for us. My parents put me to Ramkrishna Mission Library, but that was also not enough. So with some fellow worms I set in search of alternate source of books. And soon enough we found it. Very near to our school was Golpark and it has lots of pavement bookstalls. So those stalls became our source of M&Bs, latest bestsellers et al.
While in school I heard of this lending library called the Orchid. But Orchid, though nothing compared to Delhi, was a bit expensive and my father refused to let me take membership. I remember how disappointed I was. The moment I started earning money through tuitions, I got a membership to this vaulted library. Now it is a tiny shop, just off the Rashbihari Raod, tucked in a by-lane. But what a treasure trove it is. Some weeks I used to visit this place as much as 4 to 5 times, take 4 to 6 books at a time. At times by the time I used to reach, they would have half the shutter down, but due to my special status as a very regular lender they would reopen their shop and let me quickly pick some books.
When I shifted to Delhi, the Orchid man was as sad as me. He invited me to srop in whenever I was visiting, but I never did go back.
I hope Orchid still survives.
No mention of Kolkata bookstalls can be complete without discussing the famed pavement bookstalls of College Street. Though I did my college which was situated on the very College Street, oddly enough I never did browse there much for books. Maybe I was not intellectual enough by Kolkata standards!