Saturday, June 07, 2014

Namma Chennai - Bookstore in Luz Corner

This roadside bookstore is as much a landmark of Mylapore like the Royar's Mess.  Both of them have been around for long time.  I visited this landmark bookstore today and saw the one man human computer catalog in action.. Read on..

One elderly gentlemen walks by the bookstore on a balmy Saturday afternoon and patiently scans through the mounds of books for several minutes.  Unable to find what he was looking for, turns to the lady running store and asks..
Electronic machine design book இருக்கம்மா?
அம்மா - +2க்கா? collegeஜுக்கா?
Old Man - +2க்கு
அம்மா - அந்த புக் இருக்காதே?
Old Man - இல்ல இல்ல - Electronic Machine Drawing
அம்மா - அப்படி சொல்லு

She calmly walks towards a pile of books and takes out the exact book this old man was looking for his grandson.  A used book exchange happens.  I don't know if there was any 'logic' to her pricing, but she seems to know exactly what she wants and seems to have some 'wiggle' for negotiation.  There must be several thousand books and she seems to have a complete mental catalog of them.

This roadside bookstore has been a permanent fixture of Mylapore Luz Corner for a long long time.  Some say for over 80 years.  I have seen it for quite sometime and used to wonder the how books are protected from the vagaries of Chennai weather.

Earlier, this bookstore used to be run by a frail looking old man but seems to have changed hands to this lady now.  As we get to talking to her, an assistant to this lady proudly shows a media clipping about the bookstore and the old man.  This lady, he says, has inherited the store from her father.  

The lady herself doesn't talk much.  She quickly evaluates the books I had taken to give her.  She looks through them and gives us a price and goes about sorting the books.  She sorted them into 5 piles and placed them in the different sections of labyrinth book mounds only she could navigate.  And yes, she has loaded about 30 odd titles to her mental catalog as well.