March 5, 2021 9:25:51 pm
Bibliophiles in Mumbai would be happy to learn that popular book shop Kitab Khana near Flora fountain at CST, which was gutted in a fire last December, will reopen to the public on March 11.
Owned by industrialist Samir Somaiya, the shop was established a decade ago with an aim of providing a bookstore with an ambience to encourage good reading habits.
Although Somaiya had the option of renting the 5,000-square feet space out for a massive fee, he chose to open a bookstore and spent lakhs of rupees on its operations and maintenance, including the upkeep of its teak furniture. The bookstore, which was inaugurated on March 2, 2011, also has a cafe on its premises.
Somaiya told The Indian Express, “When travelling across the world, I always felt drawn to bookstores. I visited some beautiful ones which exuded a certain sense of calm the moment you walked in. My wife Amrita and I wanted to create that experience in Mumbai and her father helped bring it to life. The store was inaugurated by my mother on her birthday. She loved reading; even when she was ill and confined to her room, books kept her world open and large. The world of books is wonderful; it sets your imagination free.”
Due to the massive fire in December, the shop suffered losses worth over Rs 2 crore, with over Rs 1 crore spent for its renovation. About 45,000 books worth nearly a crore were damaged in the accident.
Chief Operating officer T Jagat said, “To ensure that such an incident does not occur again, we have installed sprinklers. Further, the kitchen will only be used to store food which is brought from the central kitchen. The bookstore will also provide WiFi.”
The store has a collection of 50,000 books and used to see a daily footfall of 400-odd people. In view of the ongoing pandemic, the shop currently allows about 10 people to sit and read books while maintaining social distance.
“It’s my endeavour to get people to read books and this is my contribution towards the same. We will make the shop exactly the way it used to be,” said Somaiya.
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