If you are currently in Chennai and a person who loves reading books, chances are that you would’ve spent your weekend running around Mount Road. Thanks to the Chennai Book Fair at one end of the Mount Road and the 90% Clearance Sale at Landmarks, Spencers Plaza at the other end, I’m sure even those who use only eBooks these days would’ve been tempted to pick up a few books.

I got to know from a few people in twitter that there was a 90% discount on selected (most) books at Landmark. I had just got back from the Book fair on Saturday, so I made up my mind to visit Landmark on Sunday. It was very important for us was because we knew Landmark was shutting down (for now). So we wanted to make the best use of the books available there, one last time.

When I heard a few months back, that the Landmark outlet at Apex Plaza was closing down, I was surprised. I thought ‘Why would anyone want to close a bookstore which every Chennaite had fond memories of.’ There were many more outlets in the city, but somehow this was one close to my heart as I remember spending very many Sunday afternoons here. My dad, sister and I used to come here and spend hours reading books. After a while we would go to the stationary and buy different types of pens (My dad and sister had a big craze for pens).Then we would go to the Music section. We had the option of listening to music in certain corners and we used to pick up cassettes and CDs. Archies Greeting cards used to be available there, and irrespective of whether we needed them, we used to go through the cards. We would leave after a while only to come back in another week or so and carry out the same ritual.  

This continued for a while till Online Shopping took over. Technology has spared no one, and it did not spare all those people who would come down to Landmark every Sunday. Buying books was just a click away, and it was delivered at our door-step. A little later, we had the option of comparing prices, pre-ordering and paying cash on delivery. It was all way too convenient. And what was once a fun activity, became a time consuming activity (I mean, you had to actually drive all the way there, and then search for books and stand in queues and all that, who has time for that now!)

When I think of all this, I’m not surprised anymore of the management’s decision to shut it down. 

We can always argue about the advantages and disadvantages about online shopping and shopping in person. Different people look for different things and what suits someone might not suit another. So we can never come to a conclusion as to which is better. But for a person like me who grew up reading books and before technology took over completely, these visits to Landmarks used to be more of a family-bonding activity. I will never regret spending many hours reading at these stores or listening to music, or as I had mentioned earlier reading random greeting cards. I wouldn’t call it time-consuming or a waste of time. It was my way of relaxing. I used to look forward to the visits.

Times have changed, people have changed and technology has made (or so it seems) our lives easier. Even in these changing times, it was slightly difficult for us 90s kids to accept the fact that a significant phase of our childhood and the memories tagged to a place was not going to be there anymore. 

I guess it is for this reason that most of us rushed to the stores to take one last look at the place we loved. It was sad to see the empty racks. It was sad to see it eerily silent. Initially it was silent because people did not want to disturb those who were reading. But now it was a very emotional farewell kind of silence. There were a few books, but I missed taking those hardcovers, the smell of the new books and the feel of the brand new pages. I missed reading the blurb and looking at my dad, asking him if we could buy that book. I missed looking at the favorite author’s books in the shelves even though I had a copy. I missed re-reading books, just because I liked reading again. I missed coming across new books and new authors by chance. I missed the times where I would pick up many books and then decided which one or two I would actually have to buy. I missed that feeling where I would tell myself I could come and read the book next time. 

For all I know, there might not be a next time at all.

To all those wonderful memories, to all those wordless memories and to the time spent in that wonderful silence – Thank you for being one of the best memories of my childhood! You will be missed! 

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos