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Santa Claus from a Delhi Bookstore

Once upon a time, when my Santa Claus came from a Delhi Bookstore.

Hi, I am Hetvi. I have grown up reading books. Thanks to my family, who thought it was a great idea to gift me books on any and every occasion. Needless to say, I developed an immense love for the written word and keep on finding ways to spend more time in the world of books.

Behind the Delhi Bookstore

At Vadodara, where I live, we don’t have many local bookstores to help us with discovering new books other than Crossword and some handpicked local stores. That is one of the reasons I turn to the internet, mainly Instagram. There is an entire ocean of the literary world, waiting to be discovered.

In one such discovery, I found the Instagram page of The Bookshop, a Delhi Bookstore. They have a great Instagram page, occasionally host super creative AMA, and recommend amazing books to read.

Due to the pandemic, there was no way I could visit a physical bookstore in the last two years. However, this page was giving me the experience of walking around in the bookstore and choosing a book. 

Delhi Bookstore
The Book Lounge at the Himalayan Writing Retreat, Satkhol

One day while scrolling through their Instagram page, I discovered that this Delhi Bookstore delivers books across India. I was super elated. The year was almost ending, and we all know how it felt when 2020 ended. It almost felt like a new life. So, I decided to gift myself some books and thought of getting them from The Bookshop. 

Now, if you are a book nerd like me, you would know that choosing which books to buy, is a very difficult task. Although, I do believe strongly that the right book finds you at the right time.

Virtual Visit to a Delhi Bookstore

Soon I sent a message to the Instagram page of this Delhi bookstore to enquire whether they would be able to deliver books to my home. In 24 hours, I got the response, where they offered me these options:

1) I can share the list of the books I want, and they would ship those to me. 

2) I could browse through their Instagram feed, and choose their recommendations from there. 

3) They offer personalized curations. All I need to do is to share a brief note about myself, and my reading preferences. They will curate and send me books. 

I was in the mood for some surprises and so I went with the third option. I wrote a short note on what I do, what I like, and how my relationship is with words being a writer—and emailed them. To add more excitement, I asked them to not share the curated list with me and just ship them to me. I shared with them the budget with what amount of money I planned to spend, and my address- that’s it. 

The Homecoming from the Delhi Bookstore

In less than a week, I received a neatly packed consignment with no unnecessary cardboard boxes. There were 4 different books in it, a few bookmarks and a handwritten postcard. In the package, I could feel t was so carefully packed, with a human touch, which we don’t get to normally experience these days.

Delhi Bookstore
The package I received from The Bookshop, Jor Bagh (C) Hetvi Chatufale

Someone at the bookshop actually spent time – going through each sentence I shared over email, going around in the shop, checking out thousands of books they have there, and picking just a few; just to make me happy, just so I could have a fulfilling experience. They could have just shared a few bestselling books, and I would believe them—but it was very apparent that someone had made that much effort to make one person happy.

Delhi Bookstore
The handwritten postcard from The Bookshop (C) Hetvi Chatufale

In my email, I mentioned my favourite book, which was about a cat. They had not only noticed this but also made sure to send me some cat-themed bookmarks. Only someone who has immense love for stories and the written word could even think that. The four books— exactly the kind of stories I wanted to read, the kind of stories I was looking for. 

Shopping at a Delhi Bookstore from Gujarat

The entire experience made me realize why Amazon and Flipkart would never ever be able to replace the physical bookshops. Bookshops are run by the people who breathe, live and love books. They are so committed to the world of the written word, you can feel it in their every gesture. I have never visited this Delhi bookstore, but I plan to.

I introduce this Delhi Bookstore to people as if I have been there. Because it feels like I have been there. The Bookshop became my Santa that year!


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Read the story behind the Bookstores Project by Himalayan Writing Retreat HERE.


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