Far from the maddening crowds of Mumbai, I have come to the peaceful Mcleod Ganj in mid-October. An important suburb of Dharamshala, it is also known as, “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” due to the numerous Tibetans inhabiting it. Portraying the colourful culture of the Tibetans, the pleasantly cool Mcleod Ganj, also houses numerous bookshops. Indeed, a book lover must pay a visit to Mcleod Ganj bookshops. However, I have been really attracted by one bookshop named – BookWorm. Based near the Mcleod Ganj Square, it is easily accessible to everyone. I saw many foreigners frequenting it and buying quite a few books. They seemed pretty fascinated by the unique Tibetan stories.
BookWorm encases several books, right from Classics, Children’s Fiction, Crime, Romance, History, Tibetan Culture and Education. Also, it keeps Cambridge English Grammar books, poetry volumes, and various books to learn French, English, the Standard Tibetan and Hindi. I rummaged through the books and many caught my attention- A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton, Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney, The Mystery Of The Burnt Cottage by Enid Blyton and Two States by Chetan Bhagat. What an eclectic mix, I must say!
BookWorm is a family shop owned by Mr Lhasang Tsering and his family. He writes poems and shares it with everyone by printing them on varied coloured bookmarks. Some of his poems that touched my heart are – Tibet With My Eyes, Why Tibet? and Thank You India. They are a part of his poetry collection – From Tomorrow and Other Poems. You may also enjoy reading his other books – Ocean of Melody, Wondering, Hold On, Three Nevers and Random.
He is quite famous in the Tibetan Community for his works as well as thoughts for a free Tibet. He shares, “… India gave Buddhism to Tibet — the life-force of Tibetan life and culture. Today India has rendered crucial assistance and helped to save Tibetan religion and culture.” His son, Legdup Tsering is an avid reader. He recommends worthy books to his friends, family, customers and the talented children of Mcleod Ganj.
Though tiny, BookWorm engulfs a huge world of different stories. One book – The Tibetan Folk Tales by A. L. Shelton, particularly lures me and I quickly buy it. I hope that after reading it, I shall look at life in a different way.
The Lhasa Dialect, also known as the Standard Tibetan is majorly spoken in Central Tibet and by the Tibetan Exiles. The lay Tibetan Literature stems from their rich ancient tradition. It includes short stories, poetry, epics, mime, dance scripts, plays and a lot more. It has a massive collection of work mostly translated in to various Western languages. With a history of 1300 years, the most famous category of Tibetan Literature away from Tibet are the epic stories, especially the Epic of King Gesar.
A poor reading habit amongst the Tibetans as well as the people of Mcleod Ganj stirred the idea of creating this Mcleod Ganj bookshop in Mr Lhasang Tsering. His son is all praise for the father, “Opening the bookstore has never been a challenge for my father. It is his love for reading that he wishes to share with everyone. The tourists readily buy plenty of books to read while travelling. The locals, too, are very nice and supportive in spreading the word about BookWorm”.
BookWorm has another branch in Manali run by Tenzin Sherab, cousin to Legdup Tsering. This intellectual family aspires to gift a healthy reading habit in every place possible. If you visit Mcleod Ganj or Manali, then, do visit this Mcleod Ganj Bookshop. From BookWorm, I am sure you will take back a lot more than just books and stories!
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