A trip down town

While January does wonderful things to my senses with the scent of Spring in the air, my heart keeps leaping ahead into February because this is when Strand Book Stall holds its annual 'more than 50% off' book sale at Sunderabhai Hall in Churchgate.

Mr.Shanbaug, the man who is behind the shop has sold dreams, created aspirations, shown realities, and introduced the best of books from around the world to Mumbaites for generations at a good price, is a surprisingly humble person whom I chanced to meet during one of the sales. He had just won the President's award and was taking a stroll and recommending some of the books to customers (not the costly ones - in fact he recommended one of the cheapest ones there simply because the book was good!). I introduced myself and shook his hands saying I thought he was a wonderful person (for being our book supplier from college to adulthood), and he beamed saying he had hardly expected the President (Shri.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam) to recognise the efforts of a book stall owner - see? that simple!

For some reason the sale was pre-poned this year and held in January, and I would have missed it had it not been for a birder friend's email. This is one sale where I really splurge. It is probably the only reason for me to visit Churchgate anymore, and I anticipate a lot from this visit - I wander about on Colaba Causeway and sigh at the dwindling magic, still shop for trinkets at Asiatic to revive the memories of a teenager who shopped there frequently for trinkets then (I found that the artifical jewellery has jumped five times in price), go further down and buy some pastries at Gaylords (they never had the drab ones ever, and still remain among Mumbai's best bakers!), eat at Lenin's pav bhaji at Khau Gali to hear the laughter of my friends (it still rings loud and clear) - before I eventually go for the icing on the cake of memories!

A trip to Strand Book Stall's sale is an experience by itself. You will need at least three hours to do some justice to the collection laid out. I simply like to look at the book, feel the covers and browse idly for an hour before I realize that time has flown and then I run back to the first rack and start choosing the ones I need to take - this is one daunting task! High on priority is one Tintin, one Calvin and Hobbes, one Trixie Belden, one P.G.Wodehouse and one cookbook, as Jr.P, I and Jr.H are building our own collections. Apart from that I end up picking up pun books, poetry collections, some things I may never read - last time I bought a coin atlas and it would have not seen the light of day had it not been for a history project my daughter did at school! This time I also bought "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (Read already but will re-read), a Louis Lamour to complete the Sackett Collection and "The pleasure of finding things out" by my favourite physicist, and humorist, Richard P. Feynman. I looked around a lot for some good bread baking books but was disappointed not to find any of the names blogs have familiarised me with - Peter Reinhart or King Arthur's books! I did find a very good book - The Tofu Cookbook by Becky Johnson with many recipes for desserts, mains, sides and appetizers all using tofu as the centrepiece! Tofu will rule my blog this year as the photographs in the books are extremely well set, and appetizing:)

Strand Book Stall:
"Dhannur", Sir P. M. Road, Fort, MUMBAI - 400 001
(022) 22661719/ 22661994/ 22614613 Fax : (022) 22630154

Sunderabai Hall:
Behind Income Tax Office, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020.

Gaylords Hotel:
Mayfair Building, Near Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai - 400020

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