The thing I love most about living in Delhi is that you can set out to drive / walk in any direction and discover something new and interesting in the first 20 minutes. The other day, I had carried trash to the dumpster in our neighbourhood which is next to a Mosque and accidentally read an ASI sign that claimed it was roughly 600 years old. Another time, a walk after lunch in Hauz Khas introduced us to the weekly drumming ritual that happens at the Deer park. So last week, when we decided to take a detour from the ring road into what looked like a bustling neighbourhood opposite the IIT, I was half expecting to see a lost treasure or Jurassic Park or some such. Instead, we drove into a cute little market, complete with a bakery selling warm rolls, the customary florist (Yes, every market in the city has to have one. Ironical, for a city known more for its anger!), a friendly looking liquor store (more on that in a bit) and a quaint little book store!
Besides the name and the fact that they home-deliver books and kathi rolls (I am trying my best to not crack the cliched ‘food for thought’ type joke here. Please acknowledge!), why Spell & Bound grabs your attention is how they have chosen to display their books. The ground floor floors you with their selection of ‘must reads’ (which I am happy to announce, does not have any Chetan Bhagat. So it is safe to bring your kids), which have been carefully picked to appeal to the curious, more than the commercial. Of course my love for the place grew exponentially when I saw a shelf dedicated just for Indian cricket. Again, no cliched Hayden or Akhtar autobiographies, but the more timeless stuff. The basement completes the wow, with a stunning shelf just for hard bound leather classics and a train shelf that is likely to make children fall in love with reading, more than any hot English teacher ever could. The customary anti-war cookie tin was also spotted.
The best part of the store though, was yet to come. After packing off my loot, which should see me through a month or so, the attendant gave me the best and the worst possible news. The ‘best’ was their loyalty card, which was just that – a card. Just the name of the store printed and no fancy number embossed on it. Show it the next time you drop in and get a 10% off. Nothing complicated (take that Lifestyle!!) and precisely how a loyalty card should be. The ‘worst’ was, half way during the chat he revealed that the store was owned by a relative of Robert Vadera. I had half a mind to flee, or to burn the place down (more of the latter), but then sensing my discomfort through by contorted eyebrows, he quickly added ‘very very distant relative, sir’.
Giving the family the benefit of doubt, we left the place and walked back into the market, spotted the liquor store and walked towards it, half expecting an ASI sign saying it was 1200 years old. But it turned out to be even better -they had ‘Leffe’ and ‘VB’ in stock! Yeh Dilli hai mere yaar 😉