Books and Beyond…
Cultural curry at Village Hauz Khas
For some, Hauz Khas Village, situated in south of New Delhi, is a place with numerous art galleries, upscale boutiques and finest restaurants amidst architectural heritage of medieval history of Delhi Sultanate reign. For others, it may be a tourist-cum-commercial area with aesthetic village feel, which also has lake, water fountains, swans & ducks, manicured green parks, and Islamic monuments. But recently, Smita Dwivedi discovered a new charm of this place for those who love to read and research. Now, the place has gained popularity as a melting pot for readers, writers, authors and book lovers. AABP brings an account of her visit to a few book stores in Hauz Khas Village …with a difference.
A literal village
To start with, here’s a little piece of information… Hauz Khas Village was developed in 1980 with an aim to preserve the remains of Muslim royalty from the 14th to 16th centuries. And since then, it has always remained an upper class commercial area of south Delhi. ‘Hauz Khas’ in Urdu language has been derived from the words ‘Hauz’ meaning ‘water tank’ or lake and ‘Khas’ meaning ‘royal’, together meaning ‘royal tank’.
A peek at Cottage of Arts & Jewels…
Near the monument gate, at the entrance of Cottage of Arts & Jewels, there’s a message, ‘Old Books Downstairs’. With an obvious thought of finding old course books, novels, etc., I moved down to the basement. But these old books were not the usual old ones…they were really old…ancient.
Kusum Jain, owner, Cottage of Arts & Jewels further explained about her passion…which luckily is a gaining profession for her as well. “I started this shop 23 years ago when there were just seven shops in the village. Our vast collection has paintings, books, maps, prints and movie posters of the bygone era. It was always a great going for me as I always found good and great buyers for my collection.”
With a confident gait, she took me around the displayed collection of books, maps, lithographs, manuscripts, movie posters etc. Before going further, I inquired, “How did you manage to collect all these?” to which she replied, “My grandfather was from “Dilli 6”, and so he was in close contact with the British soldiers deployed at the Red Fort. He generally bought things from them and started collecting. And gradually over the years he collected many things. Later, my father also started the same trend. As I grew up, I owned a treasure so I decided to offer it to all those who wish to own.”
Well, I was naturally curious to know who generally visit these kind of book shops and who are the buyers of such books. “Amongst buyers are mostly researchers, scholars, foreigners, embassy professionals, artists, writers, and film makers,” she told. One of her regular visitors is filmmaker and artist Muzzafar Ali of Umrao Jaan fame and his wife Meera. Besides, famous Bollywood actress, Rekha is a good buyer of her old jewels and stones.
The original copies of court judgement during British era was indeed a wonderful piece of preserved literature here. As I picked them to read, she explained, “These are court papers ‘Khata’, which bears the stamp of British Raj, undersigned by the then judge. These are very popular amongst the law professionals. They want to purchase it for any price. They like to keep them as souvenir.”
“Books on miniature painting, collection of ‘Geet Govinda’, complete set of Golconda school books, first edition of Britannica Encyclopedia, and Jaipur portfolio are most sought after literature,” she concluded.