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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Best Little Library in Delhi


Imagine reading the latest books at just 10 percent of the cover price.
And best of all, not having to store those books in your space-starved home for the next 50 years, and religiously dusting them in dusty Delhi everyday. That's what you can do with the best little library in Delhi, called Eloor Library, tucked away in a basement in South Extension.

Delhi,for all its boasting about its restaurants, its art galleries, its museums,has little to boast about when it comes to libraries.
Especially what are called, in towns and cities across India, as "lending libraries":libraries, which for a small sum of money, and refundable deposit, let you read books.
After years, nay, decades of searching, I finally found Eloor.
It is packed with the latest bestsellers, and the books are brand new, and the air-conditioning is superb, and boy, can you get the typical fragrance of the newly printed page there..
All you have to do is deposit 1,000 rupees, borrow books upto that amount, for a rent of ten percent of the book, and keep the book for two weeks. Or if you want to borrow more books, deposit 2,000, and borrow upto that amount. And if you want to keep the book longer, pay a rent of one percent of the book per day.
What's more, you can suggest books you would like the library to buy, and they will get them for you, and phone you up and inform you that the book has come...
Ah, the excitement of hunting for a book, rather than the tame act of buying it off a bookshop!!
I have been carrying the visiting cards of Eloor, and giving hundreds of them away, stiff with worry that they will close shop if they do not attract a big enough clientele.
You can see what they're all about at: www.eloorlibraries.in
The Address: D-31,South Extension-1, Delhi 110049.
Telephone:24626122.
Landmark: Its in a lane which is three lanes away, parallel and behind South Ex Part 1 market.
Am I unashamedly plugging some chappie's stuff?? Yes, I am. Coz this will change your life!!
P.S : Eloor closed its doors in Delhi in 2014, due to lack of profitability. They invited their customers to come and pick up books to the extent of their deposits, and clients sadly did so. I believe Eloor continues to function in other cities, like Chennai, where rents are lower, and citizens read.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Delhi, and quakes...

In 2001, when the earthquake hit the Kutch, and killed 1,00,000 people, I was there for ten days, covering it for AIR.
People had been pole-axed by falling walls and columns in the very act of fleeing, and rigor mortis had set in their limbs, freezing the terror on their faces.
In one street in a Patel village, hundreds of corpses lay that way, each frozen in its own attitude, and I remembered the Mahabharata's description of the end of Dwarka, with the earthquake devastating the town, and sea rushing in...
Over 100 aftershocks hit the place in the succeeding two weeks.
In the last 11 years, in Delhi, there have been atleast half a dozen bad shocks, and it brings a sense of deja vu...
Last week, I had called in a couple of officers working with me, and we were having an accounts meeting, when my room on the fifth floor of my building started to heave.
The table shook from side to side, but both the people with me seemed to blissfully unaware of what was happening. Strangely, it seemed stupid to run out, or hide under a table as prescribed by our earthquake drill-master.
The people with me did not look too scared, but I was, having visions of building collapse.
If there is a even a fairly strong quake in Delhi, millions will die, as most of the buildings have been built without the ability to withstand quakes.
But then, life is cheap for us, right?
The town of Anjar lost some 10,000 people in the 2001 quake. When I went to Anjar, I found a memorial there, in memory of the five hundred people who had perished in 1956!! And the memorial had been inaugurated by Nehru. However, Anjar blissfully continued to build without an earthquake-resistant building code, and paid the price half a century later.
Delhi, too, will pay the price one day for this stupidity.
Let's hope it does not happen in our lifetimes...