Mansoori Old Bookstore: A Literary Sanctuary in New Delhi’s Jamia Nagar

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Amidst the hustle and bustle of Jamia Nagar, Mohammad Arif’s bookstore stands as a beacon of literary culture and community spirit.

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – In an era where digital media holds sway, Mansoori Old Bookstore emerges as a haven for bibliophiles. Situated near Jamia Millia Islamia in the national capital, this charming establishment offers respite from the local landscape dominated by mutton shops and non-vegetarian stalls.

Mohammad Arif, the esteemed proprietor, proudly declares that his bookstore has “carved a niche in these changing times.”

The bookstore, nestled in Jamia Nagar’s bustling heart, caters to those who relish the tactile pleasure of flipping through pages. Arif, a familiar face at Daryaganj’s Sunday pavement book bazaar for four decades, relocated his extensive collection to Jamia Nagar in 2016. This move aimed to cater to book enthusiasts, ensuring accessibility to rare and costly titles. Arif elucidates: “I aim to empower them. The students who frequent here are my treasure trove.”

For Arif, Mansoori Old Bookstore transcends mere commerce; it embodies sanctuary and a treasure trove. Offering a flat 50% discount on all books, with additional incentives for bulk purchases, Arif has cultivated a devoted clientele. “Many visit the shop to peruse and linger; I welcome them,” he says. This inclusive ethos has transformed the store into a community hub, attracting regulars from diverse backgrounds.

Faizan Muqeem, a 30-year-old English literature PhD scholar, attests to the store’s significance. “Such a shop was a necessity,” he said.

Amir Salam, a 22-year-old student, says Mansoori Old Bookstore is a haven for book lovers and has the potential to redefine Jamia Nagar’s identity.

Arisha Sohel, a book enthusiast, often visits the shop with her friends. “We find books at affordable prices and enjoy spending time here,” she says

The store boasts a repository of over 50,000 books, spanning English and pre-Independence Urdu literature to Hindi texts. Some titles date back a century, reflecting Arif’s meticulous curation across genres —fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature, and political discourse.

Amidst the bustling streets near Jamia metro station, the store stands as a serene oasis, adorned with a plethora of old books, spilling onto the pavement.

Arif’s journey, from the bustling Sunday book bazaar to establishing a permanent abode in Jamia Nagar, underscores his commitment to preserving and promoting literary heritage. The store’s extensive collection encompasses children’s books, poetry, culinary arts, politics, history, culture, and religion, alongside school curriculum and exam materials, catering comprehensively to the community’s needs.

Arif contends that the anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh have rekindled a passion for reading among locals, giving rise to discourse cafes. “My bookstore serves as a stepping stone for young minds, fostering exploration and enlightenment,” he affirms.

As Jamia Nagar evolves, Mansoori Old Bookstore remains a testament to the enduring allure of books and the communities they nurture. “It’s more than a bookstore; it’s an alternate reality — a space for empowerment and discovery,” says Arif.

In an age driven by digital content, Mansoori Old Bookstore offers a cherished link to the tactile and intellectual joys of reading. For Jamia Nagar residents, it transcends commerce, emerging as a cultural landmark and a wellspring of inspiration.

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