I just returned from a week long vacation from Guwahati. I visit it perhaps twice or if I'm lucky, thrice a year. The slow but steady changes in the city, good and bad, strike me on every visit – just as it would any other infrequent visitor. I'll dwell on those some other time, because this entry is for something that I thought would always flourish in Guwahati – the bookshops in Panbazar.
ones selling textbooks. All the others, including those selling Assamese
literature or English fiction/non fiction like Modern Book Depot seem to be
rotting away, literally – the musky smell you get when you enter the latter was enough. Some, like the Advanced Study Centre which I used to
frequent since my schooldays have just disappeared. Why this decadence? Is it
because of rising prices? Don't people read books there anymore? Or is it that
the younger ones are more captivated by the malls shooting up everywhere with
the video game arcades and shiny new eating joints? If somebody labels me as
ancient at this point, I'd like to say to him/her – yes, I am all for the
“ancient” joy of buying and reading books.
Stall (a well known publisher and bookseller of Assamese literature as well as
law books) when an elderly gentleman came asking for a very specific book on the
freedom struggle in Assam. He had the name of the author and the publisher. This
made me realize that the real book lovers are still there. Maybe the younger
ones have been seduced by the shinier toys. What about their parents then? Don't
they want their kids to read? (Am getting real passionate here).
story. I haven't visited it for some years now, but I've heard from my sister.
When I visited it last it had turned into a dumping ground for second hand
booksellers from Delhi. The only stalls worth visiting used to be some of the
Assamese publishing houses and the Bengali publishers from
books by Dinesh Chandra Goswami. None of the bookshops had any of his books –
not a single one. There does not seem to be any single big bookshop where you
can actually browse through the huge troves of Assamese literature. A further sign