Friday, April 27, 2012

Going mmm... over books!

My mother is an avid reader. Has always been for as long as I can remember. Her funny sitting position perched atop a chair or the sofa or even on the floor with any reading material is an enduring image in my mind. That love for the written word has probably been passed down to me genetically and I remember how we'd devour all the newspapers and magazines that were borrowed from our old Goan neighbour, Cajetan Menezes (God bless his soul!). 

Uncle Cajee used to work with The Times Of India and had a free-flowing supply of not just the daily broadsheet, but also magazines like Femina and Filmfare and those amazing Indrajal Comics. As a child, I never really had access to a lot of children's books. They were far too expensive to keep buying and the only ones we "invested" in were the massive 22-volume hardbound World Book Encyclopedia series (still have the full set!) and a few books that some travelling nuns sold to us at our doorstep. Some books came by way of birthday presents or annual day 'prizes'. I loved them all. 

And then libraries happened! First, in school - where I was introduced to the Magical Faraway Tree, laughed at Mr Meddle's silly ways, went crime-solving with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, and imagined boarding school life at St. Claire's. And later, in college. Not just any regular college, but the one which housed TWO libraries: St. Xavier's, Mumbai. While a lot of my time did go to academic reading in the 'Reference Library' and its special 'Honours' section, the 'Paperback Library' also held its charm. Sometimes, a romantic charm. We'd walk - literally - into couples getting cozy behind shelves of books in dusty corners. Or had to race to the mezzanine area to hog one of those comfy chairs to snooze on. Occasionally, the action would be punctuated by the librarian sternly berating a student about books returned late. Another cool thing about studying in South Mumbai was the number of street vendors selling books for cheap. With a princely sum of a hundred rupees a month as pocket money, those guys were a godsend. A favourite haunt of mine, though, was The New And Second Hand Bookshop near Furtado's music store in the vicinity. Established in a forgotten era, the store was crammed with books from floor to ceiling with barely any space to move around. I'd squeeze in between a proper shelf lining the wall and a tower of stacked books (sigh, I was thin then) and gleefully browse through them all. Only to finally emerge - triumphant - with a book that I could afford and a layer of dust all over me. I heard the store has now shut down. True? Hope not.

And looking at the lack of libraries for children in my own locality, I always harboured a dream of starting one. I had started buying second-hand children's books for this very reason. A friend, who I had casually discussed the idea with, handed three of his own books to me as a 'start'. I had even christened it The Reading Tree (a bit lame now that I think of it). But somewhere along the way, that dream took a backseat while work took over as a priority. Space at home was already a constraint, so where would I house a library? My own reading habit took a beating. So when I read about the Mcubed Library in Bandra, I was thrilled. And when I actually visited it, there was this warm feeling and not to mention, a silent kick up my backside for giving up on my own dream. It was possible. But I never tried hard enough. Nevertheless, kudos to the three ladies who strived towards making this library into a reality.

Mcubed caters largely to children at the moment. But shelves have appeared in the next room ready to be lined with books for grown-ups. Even film screenings and a mathematics class have been organised here. Do swing by the cheerful place and say hi to Vibha - one of the brains behind the library - or the ever-smiling Medha who mans the registration desk. Volunteers are more than welcome to lend a helping hand, and you can also contribute by donating books (and anything else the library needs). Just ask!

Contact details are given below (go!). For some more photos, click here.

Mcubed Library, Bandra
  
Mcubed Library 
(Maharashtra Mitra Mandal),
Princess Building,
D'Monte Park Road,
Next to Bandra Gymkhana),
Bandra West,
Mumbai, India - 400050.

Tel: +91.22.26411497
Email: mcubedlibrary@gmail.com

Open everyday
Weekdays: 4pm - 8pm
Weekends: 10am - 8pm

1 Replies:

krist0ph3r said...

your childhood is so similar to mine! (atleast, books-wise). surprising how our stories diverged from college onwards :)

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