NEW DELHI: There was excitement at Mahila Haat, Sunday, when over 150 booksellers trooped in to set up shop, nine weeks after they were uprooted from Daryaganj.
Yes, they were the same set who dotted the over 2-km stretch at Daryaganj since 1964 and brought pleasure to Delhi book lovers across generations by making available dirt cheap second-hand versions of famous titles with which the capital had grown up with.
There was some nostalgia, some regret, but hope too. The steady morning drizzle had made for a gloomy day, with many of the 276 booksellers ‘keeping away’.
But come afternoon, the steady queue of ‘regular visitors,’ buoyed them up and firmed the hope that ‘all was not lost.’
“We are hopeful that all book lovers who supported us unconditionally over years will engage once again with this treasure trove. There was rain. Yet customers, young and old, came with the same old curiosity and purpose to browse and buy,” Daryaganj Book Bazar president Kamar Syed said.
Syed, however, expressed worry too.“The authorities gave us three locations earlier but none was found feasible. This place certainly has advantages even though we need to make some compromises. What is concerning is that while 150 of us are here, some have been lured away by associations.”
Vendors say, rent is an issue, but for now, they are only looking at the positives. “For one, the new location is an enclosed space which saves the worry of theft. Each vendor has a six by four cubicle to trade and an adjacent park allows customers to relax and unwind,” said Farid Anwar of Fair Book Service.
Vartika Vajpayee, a civil service aspirant, had ‘come to hunt for books with expectations.’ “Unfortunately, the market is still to open wholly.”
Dr SK Malik visiting the book market after 20 years felt the original location had historicity, which alas, is lost.