“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges
Well it is! And that paradise is Katie’s Abode, Hartola, the pet friendly homestay near Mukteshwar.
When we decided that our retirement plan would be to have a small home in the mountains that would be open for guests too, our first goal was to set up the library. Even before the first brick had reached the site, we had already added scores and scores of hand-selected books to our old collection.
We made several trips to the Daryaganj book market and spent almost the entire Sunday selecting classics, tear jerkers, murder-mysteries, coffee-table books, travel guides and whatever else caught our attention.
I think we don’t say this enough but we’ve been blessed with some of the most supportive friends. When they came to know about our plans, they started parting with their private collections and our library kept growing. So it’s not a surprise that we have two copies of Gone with the Wind, The Kite Runner, etc.
Our friends would sometimes tease us saying that the house was yet to be completed, but the library was ready! But our motive to create a rich repository of books was to encourage guests to shun swiping the screen and instead resort to turning the page. After all, the wise man didn’t say, ‘something very magical can happen when your read a good book,’ for nothing.
I still remember we used to frequent a homestay in Nainital only because they had a good collection of books. Every time we would go, the host would have added more books to his library. He himself was a voracious reader.
Meantime the location of our Uttarakhand homestay is such that the pleasure of reading a book becomes manifold owing to its fantastic climate and serene atmosphere. Read a book under the apple tree with your feet pointing towards the sun, or beside the fireplace with a hot cup of beverage, or even lying down on the bed in your room under the blanket – the only distraction could be the sight of the mesmerising mountains all around.
Here, a really apt dialogue by novelist Roald Dahl, from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind – which guests coming to Katie’s Abode, Hartola can ponder upon:
‘So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.‘
Come to our home and fall in love with books again!!