Saturday, January 15, 2005

pathfinder: another beacon in the storm that destroyed Pune's reading culture

The problem I see with true bookstores like The International Book Service and Manneys is that they can't appeal to the nouveau crowd (yuppies with more moolah to spend than brains to spare and with nary a trace of an informed reading habit -- "let's read about the monk who sold his ferrari because it's cool to read it!"). Stores like Crossword manage to implement the sad clichéd formula of pulling the crowd in -- superficially arrange all media (books, music, toys [for kids], DVDs/VCDs) and put in some chairs and tables and a place for coffee, along with a listening station. I hoped and prayed that there was some place that struck the middle-ground. Friends told me about the Pathfinder bookstore near Neelayam, and one fine evening, BVHK and I headed out to find the place. I didn't have a visual picture of Neelayam in my mental archives (and surprisingly, I still don't! never saw the cinema hall while at Pathfinder). But we managed to find our way there. The first vibes were good. It was exclusively books inside. Nice lighting. And there on the wall was a mosaic of photographs of Indian writers. Admittedly, my needs were biased -- I was trying to get my fat share of Indian writing in English (Strangely hard to find!). We got in and made our way through the tables in the centre and the shelves along the walls. First impressions were great. I had soon picked a few books. And kudos to these guys for picking a fairly mixed approach to arranging the books -- there is no strict categorization. This means that you have to pass by all the shelves and take a look. Which is a good thing. Who knows what you might find that you hadn't planned to buy? The upper level had a medium Marathi section and a welcome sight: lots of Indian writers. Walked away with a heavy bag and a smiling face. The people there were helpful, too. Now if only they had a copy of All About H. Hatterr. Honestly, take some time out, dear book lover, and pay this place a visit. And give it all the word-of-mouth you can. They deserve every breath.

Related posts about why Crossword deserves your bile and the goodness of The International Book Service and Manneys

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