City Landmark – Midland Bookshop, Shopping Mall, Gurgaon
A link in the chain.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Many snobby Delhiites crib about Gurgaon as a destination with nothing about culture and everything about malls (as if malls were not an integral part of our modern civilisation). One of the popular reasons given to dismiss the place is that it doesn’t have bookstores.
It’s a false accusation. There’s a book store specialising in hardback editions (in a mall!) and there’s a cute bookshop at the railway statio—both have appeared on the pages of this blogsite.
Then there is one of Gurgaon’s oldest surviving bookstores, in one of its oldest surviving malls.
New Midland Book Shop, in the quaintly named Shopping Mall in DLF Phase 1, might ring a bell even to those hardcore Delhiites who have sworn never to cross the border to the Millennium City. Opened in 2004, it is a branch of a chain that has three stores in the national capital, and which is famous (notorious, according to other booksellers) for giving 20 per cent discount.
Managed by Mirza Qhaiser Baig, the shop looks somewhat similar to its sister establishment in Aurobindo Market. There’s the same sort of magazine stall outside, with the bookseller’s counter behind glass doors. The Gurgaon’s Mr Baig is as friendly as the Baig brothers of Delhi, and is equally polite, chatty and yet restrained, with his regular customers. “We were the last Mid Land Bookshop to come up,” he says.
Wandering around the cluttered bookstore, going up and down its book-lined staircase, gives another sense of Gurugram. Here, you experience a less hectic world, thoughtful enough to have space for a rare local bookstore that can thrive by stacking literary fiction. The poetry shelf is amply stocked, a rarity for bookshops these days.
This afternoon, however, the shop is empty. A staffer is mopping the floor in the huge children’s section in the basement. Upstairs, Mr Baig is chatting on the phone. Just behind him is a portrait of the legendary Mirza Yaseen Baig, the man from Hyderabad who moved to Delhi years ago and founded the Midland in the 1970s. The senior Baig rarely comes to this Gurgaon store because of his advanced age. He spends his day quietly, sitting and sleeping outside the shop in Aurobindo Market, probably content with the fact that he has helped all his four sons establish their own bookstores across the Delhi region. In the process, the elderly gentleman has also enabled the Millennium City to hold on to a legacy that adds to its barely perceptible multidimensional character.
A bookshop in the mall