Monday, February 01, 2010

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

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City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

The newspaper readers' club

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In these iPad times of 24X7 news channels and streaming video sites, when the death of the newspaper is considered a certainty, a small bookless library in Daryaganj is doing well with its reading room full of those supposedly dying entities.

“We have 19 dailies in Hindi, English and Urdu,” says Mohammad Alam, the attendant at Hardayal Municipal Public Library. Situated on the perennially clogged Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Marg, close to Golcha theater, about a hundred readers come here daily. “We also subscribe to 25 magazines, but most people prefer newspapers,” says Mr Alam.

The bare library has no sofa, lounger or air-conditioner. This is just a large airy room with one exhaust fan, three low-hung ceiling fans, four tube-lights, eight tables and a couple of benches. A picture of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, hangs on one wall. The traffic noise comes in through the open door and a large window, but the library retains its library-like quietness.

Most are regulars. “I come here daily,” says Muhammad Shamim, who describes himself as an unemployed youth forced to iron clothes for a living. While Mr Shamim’s family does get a paper at their house in the nearby Dilli Gate, he comes to the library for its variety. “I watch the news channels, but you can never focus on the news on TV,” he says. “You keep surfing to see bits of films and songs playing on the other channels. Here, I’m able to follow the news with full concentration for at least half an hour.”

Trooping in with a helmet, Sandeep Mishra, a sales representative for a mineral water company, starts scrounging for his favourite Hindi daily. And then he settles down on a bench. “I love newspapers,” he says. “They give you fuller stories (than TV). The opinions by experts and the thoughtful editorials enrich you.” Mr Mishra’s work makes him ride around central Delhi, and for his daily news break, he faithfully stops by this library.

Twenty years later, if newspapers really die, this precious library could then be turned into a heritage property.

Fee Free Time 8am-8pm, Sunday closed Where Netaji Subhash Marg, near Golcha Cinema, Daryaganj

Newspapers can't be replaced?

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

Headline browsing

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

Daily dope

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

Mr Mishra with his daily and helmet

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

Spolit for choices

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

Here's the entrance

City Secret - Hardayal Municipal Public Library, Daryaganj

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