Market & Shopping

First-Hand Experience: Sunday Book Market at Daryaganj

Everyone who comes to Delhi has probably heard of it. If you haven't then now you will. It is the place to go if you're looking to buy books for a fraction of their price. Whether they're books for your college syllabus, preparation material for the civil exams, coffee table books, old copies of magazines, novels for leisure reading or even note books to doodle in, it's all available here. You get novels here starting from Rs.10 onwards. Yes, Rs.10. That's the average price of a cup of tea from your local chai guy.

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This Sunday special book market opens once a week at the pavements of Asaf Ali Road in Chandini Chowk. They open shop around 10 am till sun down. It was fairly easy to locate in the past but now it's even easier. The newly established Delhi Gate Metro Station has an Exit (no.4) that is situated just in the middle of this pop-up book market. So if you go via metro, you'll have no issue locating this place.

Ideally, it's best to go as early as possible so as to get a first look at what's available. I wasn't the first visitor this past Sunday, but I did manage to get there before 11 am. The sun was already shining like there was no tomorrow and I was glad that I had brains enough to at least wear my cap. With the Sun on my back, I began scouring the river of books that lay ahead of me on the pavement that served as its path.

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Hot. It was hot. I wasn't hoping for it to rain, as that would probably cause the book sellers to close shop to protect their wares but I was hoping for some clouds to give us shade from the glare of the Sun. With droplets of sweat forming at my brows and my tee getting sticky underneath my backpack, I slowly browsed the thousands of books, column by column, in the hunt for a few that would join the ranks of my slowly growing band of novels back home.

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After an hour or so of book hunting, I had managed to find ten novels worthy of joining my amateur collection. Halo: The Fall Of Reach (it's based on a popular video game), The Hobbit (J.R.R.Tokien, 1983 Paperback), The Hobbit (J.R.R.Tokien, 1987 Paperback), The Fellowship Of The Ring (J.R.R.Tokien, Book 1 of the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, 1983 Paperback), The Two Towers (J.R.R.Tokien, Book 2 of the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, year not mentioned, possibly 1980s as well, Paperback),  The Silmarillion (J.R.R.Tokien, 1992 Paperback), The Colour Of Magic (Terry Pratchett, 1989 Paperback), Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton, 1989 Paperback), The Unwaba Revelations (Sumit Basu, Part 3 of the Game World Trilogy) and lastly, my favourite find, Seven Years In Tibet (Heinrich Harrer, 1970 Paperback).

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Most of you would be confused as to why I have purchased two copies of the same book (The Hobbit). Honestly, I've read most of these books in the past but I have a thing for old prints. Maybe it's because of the fact that they were printed in another world, one without the internet or a time when reading was more appreciated.  Also, the Tolkien books of old had better covers with original art, which is lacking in the newer prints. As a bonus this copy of the Silmarillion was a centenary edition hence the special cover. As for the Terry Pratchett, the man is a genius in writing funny. If you haven't read any of his works yet, then I strongly suggest you get into it immediately. Just as Tolkien created the world of Middle Earth where most of his stories take place, Pratchett has created the Discworld (as the name suggests, it's a flat world, just like a disc), where most of his characters go about their ridiculous adventures. Talking about fictional worlds, in the list of purchases is one of Delhi's very own, Sumit Basu. Seems to me that Sumit has taken inspiration from the works of Tolkien in creating his own world where the Gameworld Trilogy occurs. A must read if you're into the fantasy genre. He includes everything from trolls and dwarves to pani puris and rakshasas.

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Halo is a Microsoft exclusive game series that have set records and even has a sort of a cult following (members of Halo fan clubs often refer to themselves as Halo Nation). This series has sold over 65 million copies of their games worldwide, grossing about 3.4 billion dollars. Because of its popularity, it eventually branched into other media such as books, like the one I purchased. They've even made animated movies based on the same. Jurrasic Park is a modern era sci-fi classic, that created waves in Hollywood when they used freakishly realistic robotics in the making of the blockbuster movie. This is one of Micheal Crichton's best works and it deserves to be in every fantasy/sci-fi lovers collection.

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Seven Years In Tibet is one of the greatest travel stories ever told. Heinrich Harrer, a German prisoner of war (during World War II) of the British in India, escapes to Tibet. In this book are the details of his stay in Tibet, in simple clear language, that is direct and humane. I haven't read the book yet, having only read a few reviews and having seen the 1997 version of the movie (Brad Pitt plays the role of Heinrich), I have merely a rough grasp of the story. During his stay in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer manages to win the hearts of the locals and also ends up befriending His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, all this amidst the impending invasion of the Chinese.

10 books. Rs.440. Yes, 440. Most of the books were purchased for Rs.50 while two were bought for Rs.20 each! With finds like these, I guess I'll be going there at least once a month or more often, in a hunt for literary jewels that are yet to be recognised. Also, buying copies of books I've already read may sound like a waste, but it makes for great gifting options, knowing full well that the book I'm gifting is worth reading!

Address: Asaf Ali Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg, Darya Ganj

Metro Station: Delhi Gate

Timing: 10 am till Sun down

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