My daughter exclaimed, “Mamma, they have infinity number of books”. I managed to nod at her. For I too was zapped seeing the sea of books in front of me — stashed in every nook and corner, corridor, staircase, floor-to-ceiling shelves, in every available space. The owner, who had overheard my daughter’s delighted observation, told us that the children’s section was upstairs. We took the stairs, and let me warn you, you will forget the names of authors, books as you start rummaging through the store. I did. Books books everywhere, there was this momentary loss of sense. I dug out an English translation of Bibhutibhushan’s Bandapadhayay’s ‘Aparijito’, the second part of Satyajit Ray’s famous Apu Triology. Wow!! Next I find a compilation of Mahesh Dattani’s (famous theatre playwright) plays. A Matthew Arnold lay side by side a Salman Rushdie. I was paralysed in delight. Jayant brought me back to terra firma – Stop gaping. Pick a few books for the house. We have just an hour and a half here. Oh yes, we had a flight to catch, meandering past Bangalore’s infamous rush-hour traffic. And so I cleared my mind and started off with a purpose – First, books for my little one and then a few for myself.
Which books can you get at the Blossom Book House in Bangalore? Any. I mean any book under the sun!! Any section can deluge you — Children books, Crime, Romance, Western, Indian, Poetry, Gardening, Classics, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Religious, Course Books . We went to the children section and were stupefied by the number of books we saw there. Name the author and it was there. I picked only those books for Ridi which we “will definitely not get at Crossword in Mumbai”. All this while, she sat in one corner, glancing through or reading a book that had caught her fancy.
And for us? The sky was the limit!! Literally. I picked up Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest (Man Booker nominated ‘The Lowland’), Ernest Hemmingway, a book on Jorasanko (Tagore’s family home in West Bengal), amongst others. An elderly man was looking for a book on computer programming. Amidst their excited chatter, a bunch of college students scouted the shelves for the books ‘worth buying/reading’. I smiled to myself. At least they were here. Books aren’t dying. Not yet. And certainly not if bookstores like Blossom Book House can thwart the lure of easy retail money, and keep alive the tradition of buying and reading books.
Facts about Blossom Book House:
• Where is Blossom Book House in Bangalore? For those who haven’t heard of it, Blossom Book House is a 3-floor book store located in the heart of Bangalore’s thriving retail destination, Church Street (just off the famous M.G Road).
• Who runs Blossom Book House? Mayi Gowda. He is an Electrical Engineer by qualification. Mayi Gowda used to sell books in the streets while still a student. Bitten by the book bug (and bitten real bad), he opened Blossom Book House about 13 years ago. Growing it slowly but surely, Blossom has blossomed from a 100 sq.ft store to a 3-floor, 4000 sq.ft store!!
• Do you get second-hand books in Blossom Book House? The bookstore sells both new and second-hand books. The second-hand books are in great condition and you can buy them for a steal here. Better still, there are some rare books waiting to be unearthed.
A 3-floor book-store is rare to find in today’s world of retail pandemonium and obsessive mall culture. No, book stores do not make business sense anymore. Further killed by e-reading and online shopping, Mayi Gowda must be really a driven man to own a bookstore that size which can easily give him greater ROI if selling lifestyle products. He admitted that online portals have dented his sales somewhat, but added that those are on new releases. Old books, and Blossom is the King!! What is even more heartening, this enterprising man has also taken the plunge to sell book online — www.blossombookhouse.com. A smiling, visibly shy man, Gowda definitely is the never-say-die guy.
Heart-warming, reassuring and inspiring, you come out of Blossom Book House loaded with books and richer in the soul.