A bookstore that’s a distraction from the Books

The Ateneo Grand Splendid.

It sounds like the name of a cruise ship. Or some pedigreed Emir-owned Arabian superstallion racehorse.

It’s a bookstore. This bookstore:

Ateneo Grand Splendid

The Ateneo Grand Splendid - Courtesy longhorndave on Flickr

Formerly a 1919-built theater and then cinema, it was turned into a bookstore. Good description from here:

The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café, where you can sit and peruse books you’re considering buying. And though it occupies three floors, there’s not an overwhelming selection — the shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape, and comfortable chairs are scattered throughout.

Note to self: Visit Ateneo Grand Splendid before death.

More reading on reading vaults.

PS: More photos, including the ceiling and balconies: Continue reading

If you’re from Mumbai, Gurgaon is Bizarro World!!

Some background. Bizarro is an enemy of Superman. This is Bizarro:

Simply put, Bizarro is everything that Superman is, in reverse. Superman is a good guy, Bizarro is bad. Bizarro’s emblem is the negative image of Superman’s. Superman is vulnerable to green Kryptonite, Bizarro to blue. Bizarro has “freeze-vision” and flame breath. You get the idea.

I live in Mumbai. I’m right now in Gurgaon on work. For the unaware, Gurgaon is a suburban city of New Delhi, to the south. It lays claim to the highest density of malls and shopping centers in the country, not to mention being a hot spot of office buildings and corporate head offices. I arrived here in “downtown” Gurgaon a few days ago for the first time in over a decade. After several years in Mumbai, saying that Gurgaon is a cultural shock is putting it extremely mildly. Here’s how:

busybodies..not: Mumbai is a busy, bustling city. Nobody ever stands still, forget sitting down. Everyone is always going somewhere, doing something, busy busy busy. Gurgaon, on the other hand appears to have raised idleness to a whole new level. Never have I seen just so many people just hanging around outside absolutely bugger all. Everywhere I turn i just see people, of all economic strata, just hanging around on the street and looking at each other. What am I missing?

tangential point: I know I’m biased after being accustomed to the average mumbaiites efficiency, but even then, Gurgaoners ought to be a lot less lackadaisical.

when darkness falls: In Mumbai, that doesn’t happen. Mumbai has streetlights. In abundance. I haven’t seen a single streetlight in Gurgaon. Anywhere. Now, this is India. We don’t have the world’s bestest infrastructure, and many cities have marked room for improvement on this front. But considering the broad roads and mighty fine building all around Gurgaon, I pretty much assumed there would be some lighting. I assumed wrong.

rain, rain go away: Well, in Gurgaon, it doesn’t. Go anywhere that is. A mild drizzle for an hour, and entire roads are knee-deep in water and almost completely impassable. On that note: today’s front page article in the Times of India is about how nearly a hundred streetlights have short circuited in the rain. Wait. WAIT. This is a drizzle. No way anyone gets to call this rain and get away with it.

drink and be merry: to the exclusion of all else. All I’ve seen of Gurgaon consists of alcohol dispensaries of varying styles and prices. I forgot my nail-clipper back home and it took me 3 hours to find a place that sells one. I’m yet to see a stationery store, a crippling shortage for all schoolkids around here. The convenience and accessibility that us Mumbaiites (especially us bachelors) take for granted is an alien concept here.

It has been barely a week. I haven’t seen much. But I am thoroughly confused by the entire point of this supposed city.

Oh, the crime? Let not go there.

end rant.