“What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore, it knows it's not foolin' a soul.” – Neil Gaiman.
March 14, 2019 marked the beginning of the first long weekend of this year. Being a resident of Mohammadpur means there really aren't a great many activities to participate in over these weekend periods. Thankfully however, a bookstore named Charcha was hosting their Spring Boi Goli Fair.
The event was scheduled for four days starting Thursday, and had more than enough attractions to keep a booklover occupied throughout the course of this break.
On the first day of the event, Charcha had started off strong by setting up multiple discount piles of books. Motivated by the desire for good deals, I embarked on the adventure of finding this mystical place called Charcha.
Finding the bookstore was an adventure on its own, even with Google Maps. But that just adds to the mysticism of the store itself.
Upon finding the store it seemed reminiscent of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, hidden away in a little alley, unnoticed to most. The journey to finding the store in itself feels like a quest, and once you enter the shop, housed on the ground floor of an old building, you're greeted to a beautiful site of shelves and books all around.
First and foremost, a little insight into the shop, Charcha is both a book shop and a publisher. They have their own line of books and graphic novels published under the Charcha publishing house.
The ambience within the store is brilliant, and is similar to that of Batighar. There is an extra bit of added coziness because the shop is much smaller in scale, and has little stools strewn all over for you to sit in and read.
The collection of books is vast, and I even found a few copies of Franz Kafka's The Burrow and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis which aren't normally easy books to find.
On Friday I arrived a bit later in the day, and decided to go sit in the open air seating arrangement outside, I took a copy of Haruki Murakami's Birthday Girl to keep me company. As evening slowly descended, the crowd kept growing, livening up the place.
Later that night, the band Orfred played a fantastic set of songs for everyone in the shop. The video is up on their Facebook page, and I'd definitely suggest watching it to get an idea of the environment of the shop.
The next day, Charcha hosted a talk with Fakrul Chowdhury, writer of 50 Shades of Grey in Tehran (a poetry book published by Charcha). Chowdhury discussed the importance of poetry and literature as a whole in our society.
On Sunday, the fair ended with a screening of 12 Angry Men. The crowd on that evening was a beautiful sight to behold. Seeing so many lovers of literature and art in one place was heartwarming.
Stationery stores are abundant in number, but they rarely have the personal touch of an actual bookstore. Charcha fills that gap by being the cozy little bookstore that you only read about in stories.
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