The Romance of Encountering an Unexpected Book

I have always felt something romantic and mysterious about the act of buying an used book from an old paper mart. Ridiculous as it may sound, I'm sure many will have had some similar experience.

There are plenty such old paper marts in Mumbai, mostly located outside railway stations or near colleges, having books which you can't imagine would exist covered with dust in this most unlikely place.

It happens like this - you enter the shop to buy a recent best seller or a book by your favourite author. While the shopkeeper is busy locating it in the dangerously piled book towers, you happen to notice a different book. Or does the book draw you towards itself? You have never heard the book title, sometimes it is a book published before you were born by an author unheard of. Not that the book has an attractive cover, but somehow it is able to draw you. You read the back cover blurb and open the book. The traffic on the road is crazy- honking horns and autorickshaws, but the din doesn't matter anymore. The shop keeper comes out with the book you asked for but you can't take your eyes off this unexpected book in your hand.

You ask him to give you this book instead of the one you entered the shop for and made him struggle to get it from the precarious tower of books. "What a crazy guy!" the shopkeeper is left confused as you leave after paying him for the unexpected encounter.

Here are some books which I encountered at some odd locations in Mumbai. Have you had a similar experience?

- हेरंब