When we first arrived in Abu Dhabi seventeen years ago, there were no bookstores. There was, and still is, “All Prints,” a rambling collection of books, magazines, and stationary. A great place to find a binder, but not a best seller. The closest bookstore was McGrudy’s in Dubai along the Beach Road. A wonderful store with lots of treasures to discover. With a nearby coffee kiosk and ice store, it was a regular part of our Dubai shopping trips. Nowadays you can find many bookstores in Abu Dhabi, including our own branch of McGrudy’s.
There is little wonder that a major part of our shipments to either the US or Nepal this June will be books. Not only do we have the accumulation of 17 years of books collected here, but I still have my copy of “Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects” from my university days. A handy reference when I get those requests “can you identify this?”
“Yes, that’s a bed bug.”
A lot of sifting and sorting coming up: What to toss, what to read, what can’t we give up.
The books we can’t give up tell a story. When I enter the home of a new acquaintance, their bookshelf tells volumes. With us, our collection of guide books define our life experiences: jungles, mountains, England, New Zealand and everything in-between either chronicle our journeys or our desired destinations. As our children sped into adulthood, their authors became ours, a shared family experience going through JK Rowling and George RR Martin. It was fun to see it go the other way too as they too discovered my favorites “A Canticle for Liebowiez”, Asimov and the works of Ray Bradbury. Which of those books will grace our shelves in either California or Nepal? What story will our bookshelf tell our new neighbors and colleagues?
All of this bookshelf nostalgia is being redefined. My digital bookshelf on my iPad is not shared with casual strangers who cross my threshold though I’m sure there’s an app for that. However this book rambling was inspired by the online discovery of a bookstore in Kathmandu called the Quixote’s Cove. Here’s a description from the site:
“The building, in which Quixote’s Cove is located was built in the early 1930s and has a rich history. During the 1930s and 40s, it was used as a catholic church by the Jesuits and was a central but secret convening ground for the Praja Parishad, the first pro-democracy and anti-Rana regime revolutionary party. As a secret gathering ground, the building has witnessed clandestine meetings between some of Nepal’s most prominent political leaders and poets including Ganesh Man Singh and B.P. Koirala along with Martyrs Shukra Raj Shastri and Ganga lal Shrestha. The walls still reverberate with their spirit of freedom and the words of the poet Lekhnath Paudel, who used to recite his poem there regularly, still float in the air. The bookstore shall seek to revive its past in a more public manner and become the convening ground for today’s thinkers and doers.”
No doubt, some new (or old) books from the Quixote’s Cove will grace our bookshelves in the future. Another story to tell.