Have been busy at work since a few days. So, I was mostly absent from blog-planet (except for reading a couple of posts that fellow blog-mates had put out)

MumbaiWallah (MW) had put out a post, asking for information on public libraries in India. I could not think of any such libraries in India.

Later, MW wrote a nice & informative post about “Public Libraries in India“. That was when I thought – of course, the British Council Library in Mumbai – how did I forget !!

Some time back, when I was in school and still trying to get my multiplication tables correct, one of my cousins lived with us for some time. Dave ( name changed here 🙂 ) had just moved to Mumbai, in search of a better job & a better life. Even though Dave was my cousin, he was much older than me. He lived with us until he had adjusted to the city and was able to move into an accomodation on his own.

One of the first things that he did after he got a job at an office near V.T was to become a member of the British Council Library. And then he used to bring home these wonderful books. I found them wonderful because they were neat, clean and hard-bound. They would have this tracking page stuck on the inner cover, with blue rubber-stamped dates indicating when the book was due to be returned. And, I was still very young to actually understand what was in the books, or who the authors were.
Since Dave had to travel in the local train every day to & from work, he would finish reading the books quickly. Within two or three days, he would come home with a different coloured book 🙂
I would only notice the colour change in the book’s cover, whereas he actually would have returned a book and brought a different one home that evening.

Those were my memories of a library, until a few years later, I got my own library membership. The library that I joined was a simple circulating library, opened in a small unused shop, near where I lived. It was started from the charity of a big lot of second-hand books.

And the library mainly worked during the Summer and Diwali vacations, when hordes of school & college students would drop in for quenching their thirst for Enid Blyton, Ian Fleming, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Mills & Boon and even comics like Asterix, Tintin, Superman, Batman, Archies. Those vacations were days of fun – read a book within a day or two, and rush back to the ‘library’ to get started on the next one. Nothing else to worry about, nothing else to do !

Now on to something else that MW had said in the post requesting library information …
“I remember a library (or so it seemed) at the back of a municipal school near the big fish market in Chembur, Mumbai. The state of the building and the location in general did not encourage visitors”

I know exactly what she meant when she said about the location being not so encouraging to visitors 🙂     …     I don’t know if there is (was) a library behind the municipal school. But the big fish market is still there.

I had to walk past this particular ‘location’ whenever I needed to go to the Chembur Railway station. Partly due to my good luck and partly due to my love for travelling in the B.E.S.T buses, I have avoided going to Chembur station to a large extent. But when I did have to go that way, it was always an eye-opening experience.

Ok, before I proceed, would like to say this here. I am a vegetarian by preference. I do like eating my chicken and my sea-food, but I am not a connoisseur of any type of cuisine. I don’t know too much about food – I just eat whatever I get.

My only principle in eating is – I will eat whatever is readily & easily available, as long as it tastes “ok” and as long as its still not moving when brought to my table.

So, if any of you feel that in what I am writing next, I have offended your beliefs or your culture or your food – please understand that it is not so. I am just trying to explain the ‘fun’ of walking on a road where all your human senses are put to a test.

Now coming back to the Chembur Fish Market. On one side is the roadside fish market. A dozen or more vendors displaying and selling all types of fish, to people on their way home from work. Across the road – a poultry shop selling eggs & chicken. And all these people conveniently dump all their waste right there on the side – a rotting, stinking heap. If anyone with a blocked & stuffy nose was to walk that way, he would have his sense of smell back to normal even before you could say the words “Vicks Vaporub” !! 

Further up this road, there would be other not-so-pleasant sights & smells (especially in the mornings !) which I will talk about some other day.

That is enough said about stinking garbage near fish markets. Let me clean up this mess.

Talking about libraries & fish – the next book I take from the library will be “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome. I still remember a story from that book, which I studied in school, in my English class. It was a hilarious account of a trout on display at an Inn and how everyone there was bragging about how they were the ones who had caught it.