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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

BROWSING IN BANGALORE PART 2


 Bookworm, looking outwards

This is a continuation of the article, which begins here .

There are two shops close to where Premier used to be, which help to make up for the loss of this great bookshop: Blossom Book House and Bookworm.



Blossom Book House is located on Church Street, and its entrance is reached by a short flight of steps. on the ground floor there are some new, and recently published volumes, and also a jumble of used books, mostly non-fiction.

A short staircase leads to the first floor, which is dedicated to fiction, mostly used (second-hand). Some of the books may have been in the rows of shelves for so long that they now look used. The corridors between the parallel bookshelves are so narrow, that browsing becomes quite an intimate affair. The majority of books are paperback editions, and the number of authors, both Indian and foreign, available is amazingly huge. The arrangement of the books defies my comprehension,  but the helpful assistants are usually able to direct you to approximately where the author you are seeking might be located. Sometimes, even they are defeated!

Whilst one misses the exceptional helpfulness and understanding of Premier's Mr Shanbag, Blossom certainly rates amongst my favourite bookshops, not only in Bangalore, but also worldwide.



Bookworm in Shrungar Complex


A short staircase located next to a cigarette seller leads from Church Street into Shrungar Complex, whose main entrance is on MG Road. The Shrungar shopping complex consist of a large circular building surrounded by a circular roadway that links by means of a small straight section to MG Road. Bookworm is located in the part of the central circular edifice that partially faces MG Road. Because of the circular nature of the building, the shelves in Bookworm radiate out from the back, interior, wall of the shop like the spokes of a wheel.

The entrance of the shop and its display window are dedicated to the display of recently published books and popular titles. One side of one of the spoke-like shelves contains a good selection of new copies literature, both Indian and otherwise, all in paperback. As with Blossom, all prices for new books are discounted in comparison with what you would have to pay in, for example, Gangarams or Higginbothams. 

The remainder of the shop stocks a wonderful selection of used books. If you are unable to find what you are seeking, the helpful owner and his assistants will ring through to their other branch in a lane off Brigade Road (the same lane in which Select Books, an antiquarian bookseller, which I do not like, can be found). If the book is there, you will be invited to wait for 'five minutes' whilst someone brings the book over to the Shrungar branch. 

In addition to finding a whole host of books that are not particularly rare, Bookworm has come up with trumps when I have sought several rare editions. For example, they sold me a copy of Fazlul Hasan's 1970 history of Bangalore, which is scarcely available in the second-hand market. In a recent search of the extremely comprehensive     www.bookfinder.com, I found no copies listed for sale. Also, to my amazement, they were able to find a copy of a book about Muslim architecture in Calicut (Kozhikode), which I had read about while visiting this fascinating city in Kerala.

So, between Blossom and Bookworm, the serious book-lover in Bangalore is well catered for. They are located close to each other, and to another one of my favourite haunts in the MG Road area, the relocated Indian Coffee House. Formerly in MG Road close to the entrance to the Shrungar Complex, it has now relocated to a building almost opposite Shrungar in Church Street. I cannot recommend this place for its watery coffee, but it is a remnant of old Bangalore. The waiters, dressed in turbans and outfits that don't seem to have been washed for years serve tiny cups of coffee for tiny amounts of money in a simple but evocative ambience. What could be better than quenching one's thirst after a tiring bout of book browsing?






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  4. How lovely to read about these bookshops. Brings back fond memories. Premier is missed greatly! So to Mr Shanbag, who, as you have pointed out, knew all about his customers' reading habits! he also knew exactly where to find a book in his shop, even if it was at the bottom of a huge pile at the very back of the shop!

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