Saturday, February 11, 2012

manneys memories

Reading an eloquent blog post from JR is how I find out that one of the defining bookstores of my life in Pune is closing down. After all these years of standing strong while chains sprung up around it. While Adidas stomped over Naaz. While Planet M came, conquered and collapsed. While Landmark appeared and crossed the street. While Crosswords sprouted and withered across the city. I am sure more happened, but all this is what I remember from my visits back to the city. The distance made a regular yet infrequent relationship with Manneys even more thin-strung.

The last time I was there (a few months ago), I still enjoyed browsing the sections generous in their selection; I am sure I would have found some gems in stacks of the discounted books. I had, however, found succour in the marvellous library sales here in the US and there was no way any bookstore back home was going to beat a box of hardbacks for $10. I still enjoyed digging through the large section devoted to Indian fiction in the English language, only because this was one of the few bookstores that did not think Shobha Dé defined the section. I still enjoyed browsing through the offerings in the entertainment section. I didn't have to reach up or squat anymore. I had grown taller over the years. The shelves also did not have as much dust as memory told me they did years ago. This was the store that I had bought my cherished copy of Hitchcock, the collection of interviews of the master by Francois Truffaut. A gift coupon (won either in a competition of some kind or in one of the games of general proficiency in school) helped, because it was an imported edition (no Eastern Economy Edition for such things).

Jaunts to various raddii stores also yielded gems of different kinds, but Manneys was one the places that I liked going if I wanted a fresh edition and not a used book.

Things have changed so much since then. Flipkart has started changing the way things work and I had found myself using Flipkart more during my last visit and refraining from buying things on impulse from Manneys (or from Crossword or Landmark, for that matter, except for a few items languishing unfairly in on a discount table). All the other chains got my attention only for the music and the movies. With the kind of product that companies like Moser Baer and the like are churning out, however, it seems more prudent and unfortunate to go seek uploaded rips and spend the money at special film festivals or second-run theatres.

But I digress.

With Manneys shutting down, we are left with just a few bastions of yore. The International Book Service near Sambhaji Bridge is one of them. Once again, it's all about the memories. For a generation that is more used to the chains and the air-conditioned inclusion of toys, music, movies and a host of other things that really have nothing to do with books, neither Manneys nor TIBS will have much to offer. The bibliophile, on the other hand, will once again find out what it means to be in a minority. You might just find yourself joining the crowd.

Thank you Mr. Mani for something that was an important part of growing up in Pune.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.