“Show me your books”, asked my aunt, glancing at the bulging bag that hung from my shoulder. “Hmm… Nevil Shute, Maurice Procter, - what? J. Krishnamurti?” I was embarrassed, as any 20 year-old jobless youth whose achievements till date were a bagful of dreams.
The year was 1977; my aunt was a retired teacher of English for a long time in
My relationship with the British (Council) Library in
In those days when there was no internet, libraries were our windows to the world, other than the movies and documentaries which would always be a couple of years old. And what a world it was! Sight & Sound, Country Life, Punch, Geographical, Autocar, Flight, and a host of other journals and magazines – and the books! I met J Krishnamurti at the BCL, attracted by the title of his book, ‘Commentaries on Living’. In the Eighties and Nineties, all my information on environment and wildlife was provided by BCL. The huge illustrated reference books which I opened reverently, with great awe and humility! The stern librarian, Mr.Parthasarathy, who was an English butler personified! The members kept pin-drop silence. Elders looked down at us bums over their spectacles with disapproval – my perpetual corduroy trousers and cotton kurta was so infra dig!
Years passed – the library acquired computers and videos, as the books diminished. In the late Nineties ( I don’t remember exactly when ) they started culling the number of books by selling them to the public. How many Mondays I have taken leave to wait at the doors of the library – at the stroke of 10 o’clock, make that headlong rush to grab books! Some devised a strategy of coming in groups and pick up the books greedily, rapidly and then at leisure go through them for the final list to purchase.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the culture of the library underwent drastic changes. Youngsters came mostly to browse the web and borrow CDs. Many of the Indian civil services aspirants in
Those who have been members in the British Library of Trivandrum would fondly cherish the memories. It was one of the few places in
******* ** Balachandran V,
photo courtesy: http://moorthyblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/blog-post_07.html