Wednesday, September 06, 2006


In a remote corner of the 'Giggles' bookstore sits a delightful lady called Nalini Chettur. Shes totally isolated from the negativity flowing in the world around her, as she sits there, indulging her first and only true love - books. When I went to meet her, she was reading Ogden Nash's 'Candy is Dandy' with such thought-provoking verse like:

In the world of Mules
There are no rules.

33 years ago, Nalini started 'Giggles' for a giggle, as she likes to say. Inspired by Helen Hanff's '84, Charing Cross Road', Nalini was offered a space inside the Taj Connemara Hotel. Over the years, the hotel has been shrinking that space and thats how Giggles has ended up becoming the "biggest little book shop" with all of 100 square feet. There are over one lakh titles crammed into its incredible smallness. Books are stacked from floor to ceiling with one narrow sinew that can only indulgently be called the aisle and you have to be pretty little yourself to visit the biggest little bookshop.

Worthies like William Golding, Michael Palin, Ranil Wickremasinghe and Amitav Ghosh are part of the long list of people who have visited her store.

Nalini loves books and goes through every single one that comes to her store. Thats why when she talks about a book she imbues it with a special quality. No computers for her. Her entire inventory is in her head. Her delight in a book is infectious and she immediately arouses your interest and awakens the imagination.

Im having a difficult time trying to capture the charming character of 'Giggles' and its owner - exactly why Nalini thinks not everyone who has a book in them should write. So ill leave it here. But im a sworn Giggler now.


GeekBeyondRedemption said...

Aah, somewhere I can indulge myself silly. I'd better have a couple of difficult to find books to buy when I go there this weekend.

I've always wanted to setup a library, sit near the door, and read every book that passes me by. A 9-to-5 job, with mornings/evenings free for newspapers :-).

I think Nalini Chettur has achieved my dream! Mebbe I'll just ask to be her assistant.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Yes Geek, Nalini has lived out every book lovers dream. If she doesnt have your books you can place an order with her. Her efficient assistant Venkatesh will have them delivered, complete with a little 'Giggles' sticker at the back.

Revanta said...

An appropriate Ogden Nashery for a journalist's blog :

I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

Chennai chatter said...

THnks a ton for the info. It comes in exactly at a time i m desperate for books and have a nice one month to spend in chnai..

Actually i saw the stuff on NDTV, and I forgot the have been beaking my head over the name and location of the shop...never tot u wd blog abt it and make my day!

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi RB,

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker.

Hi Chennai Chatter - Glad I made someones day! We journalists rarely rarely do that. I liked your blog.

rajesh said...

al, nice story.

it is nice story of one person's true for books and perhaps, unsaid struggles to keep it going.

not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their beloved.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Rajesh - Thanks.

Sathej said...

Hello Alaphia,
Back to your blog after a long time.Missed the story on NDTV.
Never heard of such a book shop here in Chennai.Must check it out as soon as posible.Thanks a lot.You have truly made another person's day as well.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Wonderful Sathej. You will find Nalini delightful. She is there usually after 3:30 pm. Its open till 8 pm. Closed on Sunday. Hope that helps.

Sathej said...

Hello Alaphia,
Thanks again for that bit of information too.It is gladdening to know that journalists cover such stories too.And by the way,if you remember I am 'bnap', now with a new identity and a blog.