Memories of a bustling Sidewalk

Set in the densely populated Daryaganj in old Delhi is the weekly Sunday book Market. It is in close proximity to the Jama Masjid, in the heart of the old city of “Shahjahanabad” built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan . Amidst the hustle and bustle of this historical place the culture of knowledge, information and reading survives.

As one starts walking in to Daryaganj on a Sunday, a vast expanse meets the eye. Its an expanse of books. Books on every surface. Stacked against the wall, on the ground. In every shape, size, colour imaginable. Welcome to the weekly book market.

As one starts walking in to Daryaganj on a Sunday, a vast expanse meets the eye. Its an expanse of books. Books on every surface. Stacked against the wall, on the ground. In every shape, size, colour imaginable. Welcome to the weekly book market.

The Daryaganj market has been a haven for book lovers, readers, students, academicians alike. Books from all possible subjects, topics and range could be found here. The market deals in second hand, old and used books. One can find an old used book here for one fourth of its normal price. This makes it a well frequented place by people from all ages, specially students, as they get real good bargains on the books, saving precious pocket money.

Rare encyclopaedias, picture books, fiction, literature, poetry, guides, reference books, you name it they have it. This Sunday market has people coming in not only from Delhi alone, but from neighbouring states as well. Daryaganj serves as the major supplier of books and stationary in north India.

9 year old Ravi assists his elder brother every Sunday. He steals in a nap in the afternoon hours as the crowd lessens and thins down.

Being regular and friendly to the booksellers helps a lot. Says Sumit 23, a student of Political science who has been frequenting this market for the past 4 years. “When I don’t find the book I need I ask the shopkeepers to find them. They gladly do. This way they are assured that I’ll come back buy and it. It saves me the trouble of looking for it.”

Catering to almost everyone. All tastes. And preferences. Come have your pick.

Every Sunday lot of people come to Daryaganj to hunt for rare old books. Many of the old books have now gone out of print. The old copies keep surfacing here as they get sold. Many magazines are not even being printed. They can be found here.

In the densely populated area every unlikely gap, be it an alley, an unused doorway, an empty staircase, all of these serve as spaces to set shop on a Sunday. Optimum utilisation of space.

Mahesh 24, earns around 1000 to 3000 Rs per Sunday. He has been using the same space outside this shop, on the pavement from the past 3 years . He pays a rent of 400 Rs to the shop owner. He then has to reinvest the money to refurbish his collection of books for next Sunday

Asif . 11 has been setting this stall with his father for the past two years . He eventually will join his father full time and take over the business. He already has learnt the ropes of this trade.

A multitude of parallel markets function on this sidewalk. Apples and oranges sharing space with the books. Bilal bhai sells both with equal panache and ease.

Recent as well as old issues of international magazines and journals can be found here easily, for 1/3rd the price. Hardayal Singh has the major publications stacked up according to the issue and month they were published in.

Satish Kumar 47, is one of the 200 booksellers who depend on this market for making their living. Every Sunday he opens his shop out on the street. The rest of the week he buy old books and refreshes his stock. “We have to maintain a steady supply of books, to meet the demands of the people, that’s a tough job”, he says.

Every Sunday morning when the shutters on the shops remain shut the pavement comes alive. A thriving business flourishes here. The sidewalk becomes the hub of all commercial activity, providing sustenance to many. However this market is not authorised. A threat of evacuation or removal keeps looming ahead. Six weeks back the local police had not allowed the books to be displayed, citing reasons of “traffic congestion” and “anti-social” activity. Looks like this hub of knowledge might lose itself in bureaucratic and administrative hassles.

Daryaganj has served for many years the sole provider of affordable books to generations of students. Till today it is the one stop for books. Adequate steps should be taken to conserve this market and continue its legacy. Otherwise the future crop of students will never be able to use this facility. A heritage and tradition of an early morning Sunday trip to buy books will be lost forever.

Even in today’s world of digital media and internet, where even books are read on the computer, its encouraging to see places like Daryaganj still flourishing and providing knowledge and information to the readers, young and old alike.

Rising high


~ by ektaamalik on December 10, 2009.

One Response to “Memories of a bustling Sidewalk”

  1. Hi
    Is it possible if i want to use one of the pics on a book cover of a book about Daryaganj Bookshops ?

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