It was a nostalgic day to recall their rendezvous with books at the iconic Manneys Booksellers on Camp,one of the oldest bookstores in the city. On Wednesday evening,it held its last meet with its loyal customers.
Several booklovers thronged the store to bid final adieu to a place that epitomised the erstwhile culture of Poona and was the first choice for books. It has been an excellent source of books. The visinity was also a hub for youngsters back then. I met my friends over coffee at the Indian Coffee House,snacks at Dorabjees followed by a movie at the Westend and then some shopping at Manneys Booksellers, said V N Rao,retired bank manager.
Rao had been frequenting Manneys for over four decades now. Teacher Delia Maria had come to Pune 20 years back to study. I remember the right corner of the store that was the hub for booklovers like us. It had the best references for Womens Studies and Sociology. Mani (the owner) would give us a tall stool to help us lose ourselves in books, she said. The loyal customers bid farewell to the best book shop in town. “I am not sad. It is time to close it down and welcome the new. But no Flipkart or Amazon will be able to fill the vaccum,” said activist Sujit Patwardhan.
For Radhika Wadia from Porbandar,coming to Pune meant visiting Manneys the very first day she reached the city. I had a standing account and it feels nostalgic to buy my last book from Manneys today. I closed my account today, she said.
The 68-year old proprietor of the bookstore,Manik Mani,said,It is overwhelming to see people express what Manneys meant to them. We created readers out of young kids and that was perhaps the best part of running a bookstore loved by all, said Mani who would only attend his kid customers and help them choose books to read. Satish Khot,a frequent at the Manneys since 1963,recalled his daily bicycle rides to the bookstore. I would hire a bicycle and ride for two hours from Khadkee to reach Manneys, said Khot whose first purchase was an Ernest Hemingway classic.The evening ended with singing of Auld Lang Syne,the classic Scottish tune sung to welcome the new.