Acquaintance With Letters

Preserving books and the spirit of reading in dimly lit corners

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on May 10, 2011

Few months back, my father told me about a bookstore in a surprising place for a books store such as that one. As I found my way in a dimly lit alley where I could only see shops of bulky law books I found the bookstore. It was already closed for the day. But as my brother and I were expressing our disappointment of having found the bookstore and not been able to explore it, just when we were making our way back, the sales person who too was ready to hop on his bicycle to call it a day inquired if we were interested to go inside the bookstore, we said yes and with unexpected excitement that he showed, he unlocked the doors of a bookstore that I am certain will be edged in my memory for a long, long time. The things I was absolutely oblivious to were what I think about at several times now.

It is an independent bookstore and goes by the name Rupayana. Not only is it a place where books are treated with the kind of respect they deserve but also a place immensely satisfying for a reader and a book-lover. I say satisfying because they are well-kept and maintained in a way that it is hard to keep one from appreciating it.After couple of visits to that bookstore I started to browse similar independent bookstores around the world that are still operating or once did on the internet. And to my delight I found several of the kind.

The independent bookstores offer writers and readers place, atmosphere and almost always the companionship and help of the bookstore staff. These bookstores have an air which is unique to them which has a sense of history to it and a story to tell. Because such bookstores are not there just to sell books, they are there to offer you a place where you can read and celebrate books. That’s where the integral difference between Commercial and Independent-bookstores-with-a-heart lies, Independent bookstores celebrate books and do not compromise respect for books at any cost.

Like all good things, these Independent bookstores too have to face hurdles and obstacles due to which several have been forced to close down. But nevertheless they exist and I believe almost everywhere, we just need to search and explore because there are always enough people to admire things like these and have the courage and strength to see that they exist. While I was reading about Independent bookstores around the world a lot of them have been forced to close down because of financial reasons but as evidence that people care about such things I scrolled through hundreds of articles in the protest of such closures.

Whilst these bookstores manage survival, I never fail to recognise the efforts that are put in to make and keep up such a haven for book lovers. I will find it hard to find even more to believe that a person with utter disregard for books can create such a place. Only when a person is truly in love with books and knows the value attached to reading can she or he create it in the first place. Like many people who crave for a books stacked together to be read and a collection of books that is discussed and highly thought of, some of them have the resources and courage to open a bookstore, one with a soul.

Opening and maintaining a bookstore, any bookstore for that matter requires funds and lots of them. Therefore not many Independent bookstores have risen to worldwide fame.  But who needs fame and money when you have satisfaction of preserving books in the best of their spirits and encouraging reading as a blissful habit? But there are inevitable situations which arise without worldwide fame and funds which certainly are hard hitting and real and uproot the very existence of Independent bookstores causing them to close down. One such bookstore among the hundreds that have had similar fate I read about was based in San Francisco called ‘Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books’. The name forced a smile on my face followed by sadness that a bookstore with such a name had to be closed down.

Such harsh fate that these Independent bookstores have met and the realisation of their importance forced me to ponder on them. Even though we have found replacements and substitutes for almost everything, we must not fail to realise the importance that such Independent bookstores have on us and the impact they have on our personalities. After all we are human beings not robots, we do not need books alone to extract knowledge, we need the inspiration to read them and be in an environment where we can create a haven in our minds to respect and acknowledge them. And that is what these Independent bookstores around the world offer, they inspire us to read for pleasure and work and while we do that, they silently keep the spirit of books alive.

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The Jane Austen that she was…

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on March 4, 2011

Jane Austen is a beautiful writer and I mean this in the most complex and simple ways possible. What she wrote is of course studied by great people, intellectuals who analyze all intents that she would have had writing. A lot has been written on her writing and her characters. They have been studied and scrutinized all to come to a successful pass from most.

At the end of the film, Becoming Jane, a simple sentence says it all and yet less about Jane Austen.

‘In her short life Jane Austen wrote six of the greatest novels in the English Language.’

But what never fails to amaze me is the character of Jane Austen herself, a woman, a heroine of her life. While looking back on the times that she started writing, writing itself was considered a sad habit for a woman. Let alone any kind of inspiration, it was most of the times condemned. She wrote and she wrote tirelessly not to the amusement of anyone, but little did the society knew back then and she herself that she would be read in the many years to come and forever after that to the amusement of the most.

The kind of rebellion that she must have done back then, changing the order as she did is unimaginable to me. Today in the 21st century women face so many problems other than just being accepted and read, when the notion that women can and do write is established, I find it extraordinarily difficult to accept and imagine the kind of problems women writers would have had to face then, when the idea of women writing was absurd. She aspired to become a writer when she had nothing motivating to guide and support her. She sought to be independent when women being lady-likely were dependent on men (not that the scenario has changed everywhere) was norm.

Her passion for happiness is well reflected in her writing, happiness that she did not meet in her life while she dealt on her being an author earlier in her life.

She became an underlying inspiration to all women that wanted to write or wrote that not all is dependent on the society that you live in. You can bring change; you can transform the rules and finally revolutionize what you distinguish as right. Her extraordinary writing has already asserted her acceptance and success in the society, society that has changed in the span of 200 years that have elapsed since she breathed last. But what I am most amused at is that she lived and lived the way that she did. Because only when she lived the way she did, she is a motivation to the infinite women transcending time, boundaries and of course professions.

Had she not been stubborn enough in the most passionate way, she might have moved on and listened to the society that is ever ready to dominate and dictate you with its traditions and own-approved standards. She might have not written at all and this thought is impossible to accept for me, not only because there would be one less woman author in the world today but because there would be definitely one less reason for women to be proud of themselves.

And so as awestruck and motivated that I find myself every time I read about Jane Austen, I can never be more thankful for her being herself and writing, come what may!

Jane Austen

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