The Daryaganj Sunday book market in Old Delhi is one where all book lovers should go. It is a market that stretches along the long footpath alongside the main road and boasts of books of all varieties from- medical and engineering guide books and sample papers, dictionaries, story and drawing books for children, travel and cookery books to fiction and non-fiction titles for all generations. The books sold here are all primarily second hand and thus available at far more cheaper prices when compared to the market outside. The market is full of youngsters who come here from near and far to look for books at an amazingly discounted price. At a time where online shopping has become the trend and bookstores are losing their importance on the map of the city, the Sunday book market at Daryaganj brings back hope alongside the smell of nostalgia. Not very far from here is one of the largest mosques of the country Jama Masjid. It is a structure that speaks of grandeur and beauty and invokes among all a deep sense of spiritual quest. The lanes of Old Delhi take us through the depths of nostalgia and remind us of a world that seems to have disappeared in time.
The long footpath stretch is full of books of all kinds. There is a book for all kind of readers in this market from fiction and non-fiction to textbooks, dictionaries and sample papers for competitive examinations. The hustle-bustle, the noise of the nearby traffic, the overcrowded streets and the shouts of the shopkeepers give this place an amazing character of its own. It is neither sophisticated nor polished and perhaps this is what makes it so special and organic.
Karl Marx rightly pointed out that capitalism has the power of turning everything into its exact opposite. Books in this market are sold at many shops just like vegetables on a local vendor’s cart. The price of these books is often as absurd as Rs 100/- for a kilogram. For those of us for whom books have been an eternal first love, signboards such as this cause pain but perhaps such is the cultural milieu of our times that not much difference is seen between books and potatoes.
The Sunday market is indeed also a space for much socialisation and interaction among people. Like with all open market spaces in the country this market too induces a sense of festivity and celebration among the people. Food stalls, clothes, shoes and bags are also sold alongside books. No wonder that people look forward to this market.
Not very far from the place where the book market is held every Sunday is one of the largest mosques of India- the Jama Masjid. This gigantic and expanded structure was built in 1656 by Emperor ShahJahan. It is built in traditional Islamic architecture and boasts of grandeur and beauty. Many people continue to come here to feel the peaceful vibrations of this holy site.
Amidst the visiting crowds and the chaos of the city we spot a beautiful miracle of God. A little boy guides his younger sister on the way to the mosque with utmost care and love. In their companionship and the bond of mutual trust we discover the beauty of life itself.
The Jama Masjid on a winter morning offers enough spiritual warm and the glory of the sunshine around makes this place a sought after destination for devotees and tourists alike.
Old Delhi is indeed a journey through the nostalgic memory lanes of time. It is at once the centre of activity and vibrancy but at the same time it provides a moment for contemplation, for meditative remembrance of the almighty. As we come to the end of this essay, we recall the spirit that every believer represents and that is about pure love and the quest for truth. This indeed is the need of our time and as we walk out of these lanes we thank it for giving us this important lesson.