What can you say about a girl who loves Beatles,Manneys and me?
I once asked her "In what order?"
She replied "Alphabetically :) "
To this date I am not sure if she meant me by my official name (which would make me No.2) or by my nick name (that would make me the third)
Either way I am never number 1 on that list and it bothers me all the time.
(OK - that is enough of shamelessly copying Erich Segal)
Manneys had this beautiful old world charm about it. No frills and fancies! You enter the shop and are lost immediately amongst the books. Its more like the Strand Book Stall at PM Road, Fort, Bombay.
Manneys did not have that antiseptic feel of a Crossword or Landmark. Gargantuan obscene eyesores which also sold books! The last time I entered Landmark at SGS Mall, Pune I had to spend a considerable period of time to locate the corner which had books! The entire area on the ground floor is dedicated to selling watches, leather belts, PC accessories, cameras,wallets,perfume...... (well to be honest they were selling books for kids also in this area.)
Manneys, on the other hand, made you feel that you just sauntered to another room in your home. A rather spacious one, full of books, from floor to ceiling, just the way you always dreamt it.....
The exploring of the shop started with the inevitable flat display of the latest best sellers, "on-sale" books. The moment you crossed this small area (roughly the size of a large dining table) an exciting world opened in front of you. In all the years I went there I could never make out the pattern in which the books were arranged. May be they were not arranged, at all!
It did not matter. Oh! the pleasure of suddenly stumbling on "The Stranger" while searching for "Girl,20"
Of course there was Mr.Mani, much like the other amicable Mr.Shanbhag of Strand, who was always willing to leave his position at the counter and help you out, not that his small team of staff was any less effective. He often threw in his own recommendations too. It was possible to leave a request with him and be assured that your request would be treated with utmost seriousness unlike the plastic smile and commercial insensitivity that had become the norm at other shops.
I am actually looking at the near future, with sheer horror, trembling with fright, where more and more such lovely little establishments will close shop. Later this year I will visit Pune and I dread to think what I would be looking at where the beloved Manneys always stood. This would not be the first time. Years ago I shed a tear when I saw the ugly,moronic arched M of McDonald's where the erstwhile Cafe Excelsior stood, right outside the VT station. The burgers and the fries managed to out muscle the sumptuous Pudding and Brun Maska!!
Its painful to write about Manneys in past tense. My daughter called me this evening and started to cry inconsolably. She gave me this shocker.
I checked out the DNA and read about the imminent closure (March 31st 2012) of this dreamy place. What else can one expect from the perfectionist Mr.Mani. He closes the shop and the account books at the same time!!! Mr.Mani cites the reasons as purely personal, needing to spend time with his grandchildren and daughters.
It does appear sentimentalist and stupid for a 18 year old to actually cry over a bookshop.
Frankly speaking I don't give a damn!
I am proud of you Akshaya
There can not be a better tribute to Manneys!!!!