Saiha District Library

I’ve not been a fan of browsing in the library through my school and college years. Especially stepping in them for the course reading list essentials! Access codes, reference numbers, classifications , library cards , due dates etc all gave me a headache. Over a period of time , I have visited very few libraries and fewer have I liked. My favorite library experience still remains, the one along with a gifts shop in the middle of market in Sarita Vihar. Last year I found myself at the BCL library and blinded by the colours , blinked thrice to confirm I really was in the library and not at an overdone  playschool! I did not have it in me to browse through the collection and the loss is probably mine. But I guess that’s that.
The absolute stillness in most of these spaces feels artificially infused. However , till I took a shine to the Saiha District Library I didn't think actively of libraries and was contended browsing through bookstores and picking up what I liked.But the rest of all that can be saved for another post. 
Saiha District Library is what claims this post today. Dwarfed by the DC complex on its side , you might not notice this building if you are new to the area. At the entrance , i'd wondered  how they managed to get hold of the location. A serene  view of the hills,elevated by a a view of Kaladan quietly sneaking through the valley below. 
Turn around to get inside the library and you  detect a scent of old books and can almost imagine yellowing  pages on dusty shelves. Well the books are not that old , yellowing yes and a tad dusty. However , all of it just adds up to your sense of adventure and you wonder what is in store.
The area is probably around 500 sq ft exclusive of the office rooms and is lined with wood cupboards, shelves and tables , all of which seem to have a bit of history clinging to them. As I recall ,the only light available is what comes through the windows and lends the space a warm appeal.
I was quickly at home here , for I didn't need to bother about access codes or classifications or even being unnaturally still. The dear man at the counter leaves me free to browse the 20 odd cupboards and arrive at my own method to deal with this madness and I believe that is the best way. For instance, the first two cupboards closest to the counter and at right angles to each other will in all possibility to contain Indian authors writing in English or translation to English from Hindi and Urdu. That bottom three shelves of a lonely looking cupboard will hold together books on Mizoram, Maraland etc, either in English or Mizo (I’m not sure whether Mara books are there on these shelves). But despite all this semi conscious classifications I could browse through any of these cupboards and be surprised by its eclectic content. 
Nimesh and I often do not need to look around for too long. There are very few users of this space and the person at the counter seems to have grown familiar with our tastes. If he's around and there happens to be some book he considers to be of our liking he promptly whips it out of hiding, smiling and saying you may like. Usually , these books relate to wildlife or Mizoram and he's right on target when he thinks we might like to leaf through them.

Intially we were permitted just two books at a time and I found myself visiting the library almost twice a week. To save myself some trouble , I did ask him if I could take more and he gracefully agreed. Our limit has been stretched to five!
Occasionally I peer into the register while he makes his entry and realise that there aren't many who came in since the last time I was there. And probably thats why the board of chinese checkers is so well maintained , it helps the staff to keep boredom at bay. 
This library and the warmth of the person we interact with has been an important part of my experience of Saiha. A bagful of books to carry home without pressures or due dates and fines has strangely made me a bit more particular about being carefull with the books, returning them and resisting the urge of swiping a good even if I know I might not find it outside. 
Thanks to Pu Simon for helping us get access to the library and for the staff at the library for making us comfortable. Maybe someday I'll figure out chinese checkers and join you for a game.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Roshni, Very good. I hope it will help for more development for saiha library.