Thursday, June 21, 2007

A unique book shop in Lucknow

In the photograph on the left, you can see heaps of books lying in two shops that look like go-downs of old second hand books.

That's in fact, a single shop, a unique place for aficionados of Urdu literature--the Khurshid Book Depot.

A few years ago on a visit to Lucknow, I found this shop in Aminabad, stopped by and asked the person sitting on the desk, if he was closing this shop for ever.

kyaa yeh dukaan bik rahii hai? My hope was that before finally shutting shop, he might give me a few books for throw away price.

The owner, a bespectacled man, got angry. I later found that this shop has always resembled a 'kabadi ki dukaan'. However, the owner and his employees can find you any book within seconds from under the towers.

This is just an outside view and I tell you, it is difficult to imagine, how the shop looks from within. But if you are a bibliophile and would like to have a rare Urdu/Arabic/Persian book in your collection, Khurshid book depot may just be the ideal place for you.

It is a different matter though that the owner makes it a point to put a sticker on the price tag every year and adds a Rs 10-Rs 15. When everybody is looting, can't we spare a few more bucks for a bookshop.

On my first visit I had asked for the rarest of rare and controversial Tazkirah Khush Moarka-e-Zeba, which I couldn't dare ask at any other book store in Lucknow as it contains explicit details of the tradition of pederasty in Oudh (the book is about many other things as well). He didn't have it but assured that he would get it for me.

However, in the last couple of visits i have found many valuable and rare books here including the two old must-have books for any library Deputy Nazir Ahmad's Miratul Uroos and Banatun Nash. In the other picture, you can see the disorder inside the shop. Twice or thrice I go to Lucknow every year.

Of course, I no longer mind the curtness of the shop owner, nor I am concerned about the arrangement of books here. The shop and the shop owner both amuse me and I only wish that he will keep running the shop, even at the cost of putting stickers every six months!