Book Shops: Gone With the Wind

Posted on December 24, 2006
Filed Under >Darwaish, Books, Economy & Development
42 Comments
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Guest Post by Darwaish

Mall road is one of my favorite areas of Lahore and I have some wonderful childhood memories associated with it. There is no other road like it which we all love here in Lahore, probably because it’s so close to the heart of the old city.

Yesterday while driving around the mall road, I decided to look for a book shop and buy 3 books which were long pending in one of my wish-list. So driving slowly, I started to recall the old books shops where I used to buy books with my father when I was a little kid. To my great surprise and shock, I could only find Maqbool Academy which is located in famous Diyal Singh Mansion and Feroz Sons. All the other old book shops were either closed or they had changed their line of business.

First, I couldn’t believe that all those lovely book shops I once loved are really gone one by one but then I realized it had to happen, keeping in mind the ever dwindling lack of interest in reading book in our society. General public has lost interest in book reading and for sellers it is no longer a profitable business.

There used to be atleast 10 book shops at Mall Road only just 8 or 10 years ago but only TWO exist now.

For example, there used to be one small book shop near Regal Cinema gate inside the small lane (I forgot its name), where there are two flower vendors now. Also there was the Imperial Book Depot and across from Regal used to be the Classic Book House. Then across from Cathedral and High court was Russian Book House.

But my favorite was a small book shop at Regal, just on the left of Shireen Mehal. I think its name was Mirza Book Agency and not only they used to have the best ever collection of children’s edition of famous novels but also The Hardy Boys and every other comic collection. I still remember my father got me a pocket sized version of Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities from there long long time ago. This shop not only sold old books at low, affordable prices but they had a special taste in Urdu literature. The owner of that shop introduced me to some of the finest writers of Urdu literature and I can’t thank him enough for doing that (if only I can find him now).

Yes, Feroz Sons were there too but they were never in my good book atleast. First I never had so much money to spend when I was a kid and Feroz Sons were very expansive, still are I think. Second, I don’t know why but I loved old books. I guess old books smell different :). So I always ended up at my favorite shop at Regal or Maqbool Academy and hey Bible Society had a lot to offer. But for me the best of them was Maqbool Academy because I could make use of 50% discount scheme by National Book Foundation which was huge relief for people like me. I don’t know if this scheme still exists.

I also recall people who would sell old books from defunct British collections, on a rug in the mud. My cousin once forced me to buy George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying for Rs. 10 which he then took with him to England. All gone. But I have seen a few such people in Anarkali and Bible Society even now.

Its a pity that, for whatever reasons, people have stopped reading books over the years. I don’t know if I am quoting right or not but I think it was in To Kill a Mockingbird that someone said in some connection with reading, “One doesn’t learn how to breatheâ€Â?.

Darwaish blogs on his own blog la vie en rose and also contributes to Metroblog Lahore, where a version of this post first appeared.

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42 responses to “Book Shops: Gone With the Wind”

  1. gazi gulam nabi says:

    We have published a poetry book titled “Zindagi Aik Darya Hai” which is written in Urdu language. The Hindi translation of the same has also been done and is also included in the same book. The life story of the author of this book is also written in English and Urdu language, in which how common men of 21st Century became a poet who is businessman by profession and have some political background also. When fundamentalism, communalism and terrorism was everywhere in the atmosphere and under these circumstances how a person manages and continues his efforts to give the message of peace and universal brotherhood through his poetry.

    This book has been appreciated by the people from all walks of life at both national and international level and different agencies of the country has purchased the same book for educational institution. Our cultural ministry and HRD ministry of India have ordered this book for school education, higher education and for different libraries of the country.
    This book contains the reflection of Sufism and contours of spirituality and narrowness of the politics.

    We as (Tarana Manzil) appeals to national and international book exporters and all the world government educational agencies to purchase the same book, so that our message of peace and universal brotherhood will reach to the masses. We want to appeal the national and international media to please cooperate us in our mission of peace and betterment of the world society.

    Zehan ko kholkar dekh, Aasman kahan par hai,
    Aa dekh sitaroon ki bulandi kahan par hai,
    Aa rahi tu wahan fasanay jahan khatum hotay nahin,
    Sab kuch khatum hoga yahan, mera nishan baki hai

    Our forthcoming Publications are
    1. Phool Khila Kashmir Ka (Urdu Language)
    2. Voice of Kashmir (English)
    3. Chaier Kiyazi Gouw (Kashmiri)

    Gazi Glam Nabi Kashmiri
    Poet & Writer

    Add: C- 122 Raju Park Khanpur New Delhi –62,INDIA
    Ph: 9311334792.01129915122
    E-mail: taranamanzil@yahoo.com

  2. MEHMOOD HUSSAIN says:

    READING OF BOOKS IS A GOOD HABIT, NO NATION CAN
    DEVELOP WHERE BOOK READING CULTURE NOT REMAINS, BOOKS INSPIRE THE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM FOR GOOD IDEAS LEADS A PATH TOWARDS
    HONESTY, FRIENDSHIP, UNDERSTANDING,

    IN THIS SENSE, GOOD LIBRARY PAY A LEADING ROLL
    FOR OUR YOUNG GENERATION TO GO AHEAD,
    I APPEAL TO OUR RICH FAMILIES, THOSE WHO ENOUGH FUNDS AVAILABLE, PLEASE ESTABLISH SOME LIBRARIES, WHERE STUDENTS AND OTHER SHOULD COME, SIT AND READ BOOKS,MAGZINES FOR SHARPEN OF MINDS AND KNOWLEDGE,
    MEHMOOD HUSSAIN,
    mehmoodfaiz@yahoo.com

  3. payaam says:

    i love mr.books because it’s got a variety of books and magazines,oh also since it’s in islamabad club too,it’s super fun to shop after brunch!

  4. Hi There,

    This website is a good effort for book exchange provided people use it, here you donoate books, sell your old books….

  5. Jamshed says:

    As for Feroze Sons,they were doing a great job in the 1970s.They had published translations of so many classics including Gulliver’s Travels,Robinson Cruso,Oliver Twist etc etc.They also had many very good Pakistani writers writing for children.They also published Dastan e Amir Hamza and Tilism e Hoshruba in language that could be understood by kids.
    Now it seems they have confined themselves mostly to the publication of text books.Sad.

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