S.A. Govindaraju is a Godsend. He is that rarest of people in India - a second-hand bookseller.
His store - well, a windowless garage in the Chennai apartment block where he lives - houses about 5,000 titles, and a huge battalion of print adverts and cuttings. And Govindaraju can put his hands more-or-less instantly on just the thing he's looking for amid the turmoil of his enticingly cramped premises.
As well as posing for a photo, I persuaded the proprietor to talk a little about his love of books and bookselling -
Mr Govindaraju is 82. His career was in personnel management. And he's been selling books from his garage for the past quarter-of-a-century. He told me that he once had a much bigger collection but sold that off in bulk and then started amassing his stock again from scratch.
Most of his titles are paperbacks and in English, embracing fiction, factual, some academic titles, and a few old periodicals - I spotted a copy of that long since disappeared magazine Soviet Woman as well as bound copies of a Theosophical publication (their global HQ is just a mile or two away).
And what did I buy? Well, the first issue of Penguin New Writing from 1940, which has pieces by George Orwell and Mulk Raj Anand, not particularly rare but interesting ,,, and a Penguin appreciation of D.H.Lawrence issued in 1950 to mark the twentieth anniversary of his death ... and an Indian political pamphlet which I will come back to.
The political pamphlet is entitled New Horizons: the role of the Congress Party today in Indian national reconstruction by 'a Congressman'. Take a listen to some brief extracts ...
It sounds very contemporary - those are the sort of complaints you hear about the Congress Party today. But this pamphlet dates back well over half-a-century to 1963 - in that difficult period for Congress between India's defeat in the 1962 border war with China and the death two years later of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
I do hope this blog may persuade you to visit Mr Govindaraju's book store if you are in Chennai. He recommends that you ring or email before coming round - not least so he can give you directions!
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