Sunday, June 29, 2008

The musty smells of a treasure chamber..

hmm can't think of a title for this post.. started with the "library smells" but realized that it sounds as if a library smells bad! Which is not what i was trying to say at all..

I went to a library today after ages, and got myself a few books. The first thing that stuck me, was the typical musty smell of books.

Brought back all the memories of the DPL, conveniently located within the apartments perimeters. the first library that started it all. The love of reading. The 10 paise membership and 5 paise fines. The Enid Blyton's, Nancy Drew, graduating to Ellery Queen. the James Hadley chase picked up by mistake, ( yes a book can actually make you want to puke! ) It was the tiny one room library , but it was such a crucial part of growing up from 8 to 14.

We moved houses later, and there were other DPLs. The same nondescript book binding ( was it green? blue ? grey? or just some shade created in the painters mixing palette? ) the prices had increased , ( ah inflation! from 10 paise to 50 paise! ) The library was much bigger, a good few rooms! But then also further from home. Change two buses and walk a bit.

But the smell was the same. The smell of books, old paper. Hope, dreams , fantasy, escape, and occasionally some learning as well!

Then there was a period of library less ness. Books were obtained mostly from friends. studies took over. then work. somewhere along the way book reading diminished. Money was easier to come by than time, or so I told myself. It was easier to pay lip service to the love of books by installing book shelves and buying books. some read, some unread, for months, even years on end. Borrowing from friends continued to be the main source of books. but then, thats mostly a smell less transaction. And it never has the same element of randomness, the thrill of discovery..

But today, after a break of a few years, I got back into a library, and remembered again, just what fun it is to inhale that musty smell, walk down a row of books, pick up an author you've wanted to read, NOT think about whether it is worth buying, and just say, lets try this and see :)

5 comments:

Niranjan said...

Very well written and expressed... brought back memories of your "Colours of Life" article :)

Tess said...

Thanks! "Colours of life", wow, you still remember, I'd forgotten.

ah the 100 word english school essays, what fun was had! And no matter that poor Mrs Aravind and Lahiri mam kept telling us to choose "pollution" , we would still pick "a walk in the park" as the topic! :D

Guruprasad Kini (Guru) said...

The title says it all :). Smell of old books and the kerosene-tinged smell of new ones, ah!
Now I am curious about the fabled "Colours of Life" article.

Tess said...

isn't it just a heady aroma? :)

Sonia said...

Nice article ma'am. I too am curious about the "Colours of life" article.