Death of a landmark.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla regrets to inflict further heartache to the city’s book lovers, especially those with a fondness for independently-owned bookstores.
Within a week of the announcement of the closure of the deliciously eclectic Fact & Fiction Booksellers, I announce to you the very quiet demise of the historic ED Galgotia & Sons Booksellers. The B-Block landmark in the colonial-era Connaught Place closed down a few weeks ago. The other evening I saw only the empty shelves, with the discount notices still pasted on them. The cash counter was unlit. The small statues of gods were immersed in darkness. A mobile phone charger was still plugged to an electrical switch.
Talking on condition of anonymity, a person said that the owner, Radha Krishna Galgotia, finally succumbed to the persuasions of the shop’s landlord. The store stood next to New Book Depot, which shut down in 2012.
The bookstore had lately bifurcated into two portions. The section run by one of the two Galgotia brothers, which sold ‘general’ books, is the one that has shut down. The other section stocked with books on obsolete computer programming languages is still open. My source told me that it too is to soon die.
The initials in the shop’s name stood for a man called Etendra Dayal. His son, Bhagwat, started the shop in 1933. At one point the bookshop also served tea, coffee and tomato soup. Actually the shop’s closure should not come as a surprise. Its standards had deteriorated in the last few years. The shelves were filled with the same old dusty stock. New books were barely spotted. Gradually, however, it seemed that the bookshop would continue to be terminally ill and yet be alive.
In her book Perpetual City: A Short Biography of Delhi, author Malviaka Singh wrote: “During the fifties and the sixties, Connaught Place, the grand pillared shopping arcade, housed the best of India. Many of the familiar shops that were all the rage at the time have disappeared, but the thought of them and their stunning products, brings forth a strange kind of yearning. Glamour was where many of my generation bought saris for their trousseau; when avocados were unheard of in Delhi, they could be found at Oriental Fruit Mart as were the amazing bullseye sugar sweets; Harnarain Gopinath had mind-boggling assortment of sherbets, murabbas and pickles; the lone bookstore was Galgotias….”
It is not unusual to come across secondhand books in Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazaar with ‘ED Galgotia & Sons Booksellers’ stamped on the title page.
We’ll always have amazon.com
3. (Radha Krishna Galgotia, wife, Gunjan, and daughter, Pooja)
4. (Old times)
7. (Old times)