A portal to another dimension.
A gateway to a different world.
Chapter 101 might blend among a line of “mall shops” in Gurgaon (Gurugram) in a rather nonchalant manner, but all you have to do is open its doors to realize that this is a place where the magic happens.
Most bookshops are the same. They give a sense of belonging to many of us. It’s an addiction, the need to take a little peek, flip a few pages, maybe smell one when no one is looking. It’s a hit that excites us when we get it and tortures us when we don’t.
The anticipation that is ignited the moment you decide to visit a bookshop, or come across it, remains at its peak from the instance you enter, till the time you reach home. With the physical presence of a book(s) in your hand, adding to the sense of jubilation, it continues till the time you finally begin reading it, and then the story takes over your emotions.
Chapter 101 is homely. It’s like walking into a den or a study, very English in nature with the wooden racks along the walls, the tiled floor graced with a couple of rugs to give that extra bit of coziness, and a faux brick wall opposite to a green coloured one in-between it all. In places, there are comfortably large chairs to sink in and a few potted plants that break the monotony, along with the various book spines, to an otherwise very brown space.
Space is at a premium in this city and yet care has been taken not to overpopulate the bookstore with books, even though one wouldn’t mind that. Everything it seems has its home where it gets all the attention it deserves. Even legends like Dylan, Lennon, and Armstrong can be found lounging around, albeit in a more two-dimensional state, spread across this small area.
There’s obvious passion involved, in the way the “room” has been meticulously designed and of course in the collection of books that are the whole reason behind it all. Chapter 101 is moody, a bookshop that walks its own path, slightly snobbish, but rightly so.
A small desk near the entrance occupies the otherwise open design of the room, nothing else to come between you and the books. Low volume Jazz fills the air with its melodies, yet it’s quiet as if I’m in a library, an old English library – although it doesn’t smell like one, thankfully. I’m no longer in Gurgaon it seems. The presence of a mall or this city that we love yet hate is a forgotten memory.
It’s the books, and only the books that matter in the end, and they too are “different.” Chapter 101 curates their books with uttermost care. You won’t find the usual suspects here. The Classics to have been represented in the form of individual, more vibrant and colourful editions. And then there’s so much more; a book on Hiroshima, one about the history of the famed Parisian bookshop Shakespeare & Company – my two next buys for sure whenever I visit again. And then I come across names like Jhumpa Lahiri, Margaret Atwood, and Diane Williams, slowly moving from one section to another discovering one book title after another, books I’d never known existed.
A glass front Almirah on one side houses some first editions. I’m too scared to even hold them. I do make my way to the little part of the shop where I can help yourself to a hot drink, a cookie, or even reading glasses. How charming.
The books at Chapter 101 are slightly expensive, partly because they might not easily be available, and secondly, being an independent bookstore, you’ve got very little to fall back on.
But, here’s the thing, it makes me very happy whenever I come across a physical bookshop in this day and age. And if it’s an independent one, all the better, especially when it shows the kind of love, passion, and care like Chapter 101 does by being selective and actually making it more than just a business. They deserve to be written about, and I don’t mind the prices too much.
Now, I’ve done my part (which includes giving them my business), so it’s your turn to head on out and visit Chapter 101. If you’re elsewhere in the world, then find the closest independent bookshop and go visit it. Switch off your phone, browse through their collection, have a conversation with the proprietor, and in the end, spend some money buying those wonderful things called books. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
101D, 1st Floor, Golf Course Road,
DLF City, Phase 5, Sector 53,
Gurugram, Haryana 122009