Category Archives: bookstores

Books and chai at a brand new cafe

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, nor is the proprietor/owner a friend or even an acquaintance. This here is just the outpouring of a slightly smitten booklover.

One of my most enduring dreams has been to own/run a book cafe. So when I hear of someone opening one I feel a wave of intense envy wash over me. There’s curiosity too. I want to see how close they are to my dream. More than once I’ve visited such places only to be disappointed. All I’ve found is overpriced coffee and one or two sad-looking racks of very predictable books titles, at least this side of town.

Which is why when I found a flyer for a book cafe tucked into my morning newspaper I was only mildly curious. One Saturday, after dropping the kids off for a session at school, my friend and I made our way to check it out since it was a mere five minute drive away.

The shop/cafe/library was still opening when we arrived and books were being carried out by the armloads onto long tables. Little bird hangers swung down at us at the entrance and a sign cheerfully proclaimed ‘Kitabi Chai’.

As we stepped in my only thought was – Damn, she stole my dream! Stupidly enough I realised I’d spoken out aloud right before the owner/proprietor, Geetika Anand. Perhaps she was used to it because all she said was, ‘You can come here and enjoy the books anytime’. We chatted for a while speaking about the trials she was facing as well as the appreciation she had received since the inception of the cafe. It was unbelievable that the place had been around for a good six months and I hadn’t known about it.

The shelves were full of books, obviously! Agatha Christie rubbed shoulders with PG Wodehouse, Coelho had his own cosy nook as did Sidney Sheldon, along with others like Markus Zusak, Paula Hawkins and everyone else we could think of. Archie and Tintin and even Tinkle found a place in this eclectic mix.

What thrilled me the most was that were a host of brand new releases, something my current library lacked. I thumbed through Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories (which has been recommended by every single person who has read it) and looked at it with such longing, rueing my no-book-buying pledge more than ever, that my friend bought it! And now I await my turn to borrow it :-).

One corner housed a tiny cafe. The top item on their Specials of the Day was Elaichi Chai and I would have been completely sold over, had I not been already!

My friend and I ogled and laughed (a bit too much), we read through the bookish posters and quotes on the walls, we fell in love with the quirky odds and ends, we pointed out authors and gushed at the titles and finally settled down on the cushions to gush some more. I got her to pose for me too. We behaved like a bunch of bubbling, giddy-headed, infatuated teenagers suddenly confronted with their common crush.

There are low tables, comfy cushions and bean bags strewn around making the place warm, inviting and trendy all at once. Kitabi Chai is a cafe, book-exchange joint, library and bookstore all rolled into one. I’m so looking forward to the children’s exams to be over so I can go there and just hang.

Click here to read about another gorgeous bookstore, this one in Gurgaon.

For the love of books

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I am happy to welcome on my blog Shalini Baisiwala. Today she shares with you the memory of a warm and wonderful place – a dream bookstore she chanced upon. Tuck in and read on. Do scroll down to know more about her.

“You see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places.” ― Jen Campbell, the Bookshop Book

Hello readers! I am thrilled to be here on my favourite book reviewer’s blog. I will of course be talking about books as I love them to death. I love collecting books and not just reading them. I have been struggling to get my mom to relinquish my stash of childhood books to me for years now. But she is “saving” them for my nephew who BTW has shown no interest in reading yet. Sigh!!! I miss my set of classics, Enid Blytons and Nancy Drews.

As an avid book lover, I am guilty of stopping in book stores just to soothe my eyes and soul. I have more often than not picked up books based on how pretty the cover was. Hardbound books are far more difficult to resist, though yes the pricing does break the heart and (pocket). You see book stores for me are what jewellery stores are to most women. Though I covet visiting them, I have off late started avoiding them as I binge shop there. So you could accuse me of cheating with online ones to order my books. 😉
But the other day, while waiting in the mall for a friend for a coffee date, I happened to notice this really quiet corner with a tall imposing door and a signboard declaring it to be Chapter 101.

Curious, I ventured inside and was instantly apparated to a Diagon alley-esque bookstore of magical proportions.

Dark panelled wood, comfortable armchairs, and shelves upon shelves of hard bound books in gorgeous hues with artistically calligraphed letterings. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming, even as the manger behind a desk smiled knowingly. The hard bound ones were a siren’s call for me (and I did end up buying two of them.)

Walking past the first set of shelves, I noticed a tea tray with coffee/tea amenities and a note saying “Help yourself”. Mystified I queried the manager and he said it’s for patrons who wish for a quiet read here. That’s when I realised that the leather bound armchairs were not for decoration but were generous reading corners, replete with a book stand and a floor lamp. (I have been meaning to go and read here one day…. Hasn’t happened yet)

Large framed posters of music icons from the vintage era dominated some of the walls even as genuine collector’s editions (some first editions) peeked from the handsome wooden shelves. Soft jazz renditions crooned over the perfectly aligned music system, setting the tone for the perfect vintage feel!

The books here are an eclectic mix and one finds Murakami rubbing shoulder with Ernest Hemmingway and Margret Atwood with great élan. I am in love with the editions of classics that were on display here. The comic section boasts some amazing stuff too. (Be prepared to shell out far more for a book here than anywhere else).

The owner of this bookstore started it out not to make a buck but to genuinely invest in his passion of collecting books into a hobby. It’s a rare spot in the overtly commercial markets today where real estate prices demand a profitable venture to justify the existence and sustainability of businesses. Yet the owner put in his own money and is keen to share his book collection with passionate book worms.

If you are ever in this nook of the world, I would urge you to stop by this charming vintage book store just for the love of reading and collecting books. I guarantee you won’t come away disappointed.

Do you have a favourite book store? Won’t you share with me what’s it like? I would love to know more of such hallowed book spaces.

Here is a post by me on my favourite book reviewers that I feel might interest an avid bookworm like yourself.

Meet Shalzmojo

An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.
This post is part of the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo

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