News!  

You can Contact us at our new Email

Post Remembrance of a old winter, five years past. Read an old post here about beauty in winter
Series: :The Awakening of Silence

Daryaganj(abbreviated as DG else where in the article) is an area on the fringes of 'Purani Dilli' area of New Delhi. Every Sunday, since many decades, its streets from Delite Cinemas on Asif Ali Road through to Delhi Gate, and onward to and beyond Golcha Cinemas, convert themselves into a large chaotic and seemingly unorganized( but looks can be deceptive) market of the strangest kind; its specialty - only Books.

What kind of books can one find here? Used books of any genre can be found being sold at DG - Medical Textbooks, Engineering Textbooks, Course materials, Coaching material for all exams, and to my particular interest - Novels.

I want to focus on exploring Daryaganj as a bibliophile, and one who has interests in reading and collecting - good and difficult literary fiction. I have found many reviews of DG, but they were not meticulously researched in areas such as - on how to go about finding books ; or what kind of price differentials to expect; or whether proper literature can be found there at all? Most bloggers have just given a very superficial and to my dissapointment(?) an over hyped image of what DG can offer realistically. My tastes in reading are the following:
  • Classics & Poetry
  • Literary and Award winning fiction - Novels with some Literary merit. (Not mass marketed bestsellers, which are usually very easy and plenty to choose from in DG)
  • Philosophy ( Western and Indian) & Buddhism
  • Psychology (not pop psych, but by real psychologists and Texts)
  • Post Modernist Novels - Pynchon, Franzen, Delillo, DWF, etc
  • Crime Fiction (mostly Scandinavian crime fiction).
  • Oddities : I'd buy anything by P.G.Wodehouse.  
Given these genres, I shall share my experiences in either finding/not finding what I was looking for  in DG.

Some Hard truths and Busted Myths of Daryaganj, for Litterateurs:
  • Most sellers have no knowledge of authors or books, and so you will be left with no expertise or help in finding a David Foster Wallace novel in a heap of dumped books at every stall.
    • I have found only two vendors with some level of knowledge about books, one is near the Delite cinemas, and the other is the Kuldeep Brothers Stall near the Wine Shop much before Golcha Cinemas.  Both of them have a good collection of books.
  • You cannot go to DG with a list of literature books to buy and end up finding them there. Its not a book store in the usual sense. You may find all the books on your list only if they are merely Grishams or Paulo Coelhos. Most of your buys of literature at DG will be always because of only one fact - you just got lucky! That is it! But we will explore some ways in which I try to play with this luck and found some great buys.  It will seem like no exaggeration when you realize how the supply chain works here. Books here are sourced by vendors from various means - from auctions at railways stations of left behind parcels of publishing houses, distress sales of books from stale orders by publishing houses or distributors,  to used Books shipped to India in a ship's cargo container every month, buying disposed libraries of the dearly departed or those who are leaving the town, to the unusually consistent raddi wala hierarchy of scavenging discarded books.
  • Best deals are not made in the morning, don't end up reaching there before 9am and realizing you reached there before the books came. But there is always a worry that if you reach late, your books might have been brought by some one else, and that is a real issue, so you need to take a call about it. I found that even if i go at closing time, Literature books are usually lying around untouched and i can and often do get much lower prices at Closing time, but it is also a very risky time as you may not find anything as well!
    So the bottom line is: Best deals are made not by the time of your arrival but by your behaviour - if you know how to act aloof and not overly excited about finding a book you were looking for you can seal the best deal. While you are lost in studying the books, the vendors are busy studying your expressions to decide their profit margin from your potential sale. And after expressing over excitement ( people often do it when they go to DG in groups), dont try your lame bargaining style of walking away, cause once a vendor knows you dont just want that book but really need it he knows you will buy it and wont budge even if you dont end up buying. Hes ok if you dont buy it, cause by your excitement he thinks there will be others who will find that book worth buying, so seriously just stop doing silly bargaining tactics with these really shrewd business men.
How to successfully shop at DG: 
  • Its not a one time affair, Go consistently every sunday for at least a month and you will never be disappointed. Make best use of winters, In summers going there is a real pain. Have a list of books to buys, but allow the element of surprise to drive your purchases more. The first time I went to DG with a specific list of books to buy, I ignored all other books, and I went from stall to stall and never found anything I was looking for and i went home, cursing the place. I din't go back for over a year, until i decided to give it another chance. The second time I decided to go, I went there aimlessly, and ended buying some really great literature that shall stay in my collection for ever at unbelievable prices.
  • There are plenty of new vendors who sell books by weight! Before the sablok clinic, there is an entrance to a by-lane alley, this entrance is flanked by a few vendors who sell some really good quality Fiction for 200/Kg and 300/Kg (in the year 2016). They are an absolute steal, don't think twice about buying books on weight, they are always cheaper than other vendors who try to individually (over) price books. Many examples of books I have bought are below.
  • Big Book Bazaar is a permanent shop in DG, it is open all through the week. Try going there first thing to find some books by weight, or go there on a Saturday as well. This shop is too crowded and unorganized on a Sunday. There is also another permanent Book shop quite adjacent to it, it is on the first floor, and has a long narrow corridor flanked by books that can be seen from the street.
Logistics - How to reach there by Public Transport if you are new to Delhi.
Get a Metro to New Delhi on the Yellow route. Come out of the gate that opens upto Kamla Market. Then catch either a bus from the front of Kamla market to get down at Delhi gate. Or more conveniently take the electric rickshaw that leave almost every minute from Kamla Market to Daryaganj for about 10/- Rs.

A sample of the Purchases I made over a month at jaw dropping prices.
I buy only books that have almost no wear and tear by usage, and no marking and have no spotted or heavily faded sheets. These books look like what a new book would look like had it been laying around in my house without use for about a year.

David Foster Wallace - Infinite Jest US edition - 350/- (nearly 75% off)

Basic Writings of Immanuel Kant Modern Library - 100/- (nearly 80% off)

On Utilitarianism - J S Mill - 50/-

Lord of the Rings - Entire set for a jaw dropping 180/- ONLY; In Pristine condition

Thomas Pynchon - V 200/-

Marcel Proust - The entire set of 4 Hard Backs of 'In Search of Lost time' Hard Bound almost New; in mint condition - EveryMan's Library 1200/-  (MRP will be around 3000+ so It was a good deal)


The God of Small Things - Arundati Roy - 60/-

Vikram Seth - An Equal Music - 60/-

Jane Austen - Persuasion Penguin English Library edition - 40/- Brand New  (~70% off)

Alice Munro - Short Stories 50/- (90% off)

Noam Chomsky - Understanding Power - 100/-

Alan Watts - Tao the Watercourse way - 80/-

Tolstoy - The collected short stories - HardBack - 200/-

Tolstoy - Anna Karenina - Penguin Deluxe Edition - brand new award winning Translation - 300/- (was totally worth it!)

Sophocles - Theban plays HardBack - 200/-



Virgil - Aneid - 60/-

The complete Works of Shakespeare; Oxford Hardback (very classy)- 180/-

Links to this post



KIBI organizes a public meditation course every year, in winter at its New Delhi KIBI campus. The Karmapa himself will be teaching a few sessions. This is a perfect venue to learn about the Meditation as taught in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

 Public Meditation Course (PMC) at KIBI, is to be held from the 24th of December 2015 to the 2nd of January 2016. The course will begin with an introduction to the program and celebration dinner on the evening of December 24th, and will finish with a conclusion ceremony on the morning of January 2nd.





Dupsing Rinpoche will continue teaching on Ngondro. This year the focus will be on the practice of Dorje Sempa (Vajrasattva). Every morning there will also be an opportunity to take the Sojong vows with Rinpoche for those who wish to.

Ven. Dupon Nyigyam from Sharminub Retreat Centre in Kathmandu will give us teachings on Shine (Shamatha).

Tentatively, as I am made to understand it: The daily schedule is from 6AM to about 6:30PM with a 3 hour lunch break from 11AM to 2PM. the Meditation sessions (concentration and wisdom) are after 2PM. The Purification practice , refuge and vows sessions are before lunch. Again, please do register and participate. Regards
  
For more Public courses offered by KIBI please visit: http://www.kibi-edu.org/public-courses/


References:
All images and quotes 
are from the KIBI website :
 http://www.kibi-edu.org/