It was just another day off for the likes of me – the working class. With all cleaning, dusting and shopping done over the weekend, I had a day for myself yesterday. As I scoured my social media feed for book recommendations, I stumbled across this article about a rare book collection shop based out of a garage in Chennai and la! My evening plans were made. After a quick call to the person running the shop about the direction and working hours, I set out with my husband with feverish excitement. We reached the place and the found the store locked. The watchman of the building offered to call up the store owner who lived in the same building.
As we waited for him to come down, I spotted a Premier Padmini (the car) parked a few. meters from the store. An octogenarian, clad in a simple white dhoti and a shirt walked up to us slowly with a smile and opened the store for us, beckoning us inside. Just as I stepped in, the smell of old books hit me with a blast. A simple parking garage was converted to a bookshop using a couple of steel doors. I fell in love with the place immediately. It was one big chaos with books literally everywhere. His smile widened when he noticed my dreamy expression. I timidly asked him if the books were for sale. With a throaty laugh, he replied that the whole place were for sale if I could buy it! Stunned by his reply I went about silently, picking and reading books in no particular order. I just couldn’t decide what to pick. There were books of all subjects – Literature, Poetry, Spirituality, Law, Politics and what not! After much deliberation I picked two Readers Digest condensed editions and one book by William Faulkner. The books were reasonably priced and he gave us a fair discount. Just as we were paying, I noticed that he was carefully pulling out a picture Ad of Raymonds featuring Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to sit down for a conversation.
The owner of this shop, Mr.Govindraju is a qualified lawyer and has worked primarily in Personnel Department. He has been collecting books for the past 40 years. His craze for books began when Penguin Publishers first started publishing paperbacks which were affordable and easy to carry. He managed to collect all the books published by Penguin back then. He sold his entire collection few years ago, but has begun collecting rare books and editions not in print again now. Upon prodding a bit he reveals that his sources are primarily hawkers who source books which are discarded. His present clientele include people from all walks of life including students, established professionals and actors too. He collects not just books, but rare paper clippings, comic strips, magazines and articles.
To know more about what we spoke, please listen to the audio below! This conversation can’t be possibly transcribed. Please do visit his store. It is totally worth the effort. You can reach him @ 044 24936152 or email email@example.com to plan a visit. He simply wishes that his books reach a owner worthy of it.
PS. It’s my first audio interview. Constructive criticism welcome.