Bewitched By Books

By Kavya Iyer

The kids at Kolkata found a treasure in books
Photo Credits: Diptanshu Chakravarty

Just mention the words *placement activity* and the kids in Kolkata will jump up and down with excitement! Naturally, this time was no different. We had planned to take them to the oldest, 90-year old heritage bookstore in Kolkata – The Oxford Bookstore. Fifteen students from CMO Boys along with seven MADsters were to tour the bookstore, which housed a plethora of books – some literary masterpieces, and others, novels, short stories and magazines.

As we pulled into Park Street, the kids could not curtail their excitement anymore. To start off, the Managing Director, Mr. Abhishek Kumar, interacted with our kids and explained common terms like buying, selling, footfall and so on. The children listened with rapt attention and I couldn’t help but admire their eagerness to learn.

Then, 3 Oxford Bookstore staff members, Ketaki, Anindita and Ramyanee showed the children around. They taught our kids how to scan the unique bar code given at the back of each book, while actually letting several of them get hands-on experience! The kids scanned the codes of the books which some customers were going to buy. And needless to say, they did it perfectly! After all, our kids are quick learners! Next up, they learnt the tasks of cashing and billing and  were given live demonstrations on how to be courteous to customers and assist them when required.

What intrigued the children the most was how everything was computerized and that they could locate any book they wanted with just the click of a mouse! Then, posing as customers, our kids flaunted off all that they had learnt in their MAD classes, asking for books on Africa and seasons and even Romeo and Juliet!

Finally, an interactive session was held where the kids shared all that they had learnt, the books they liked reading, and their plans to go to Oxford if they were to ever publish a book!

Photographs were taken, and soon, it was time go. One boy, Hasrat, came up to me and whispered into my ears, “Didi, bahut accha laga yahan aake. Bahut kuchh seekha. I want to come here again.” (It felt really good coming here. Learnt a lot. I want to come here again.) And I, I just stood there, at a loss for words. I simply hugged him tight and smiled.

Maybe, a few years from now, if you were to walk into a bookstore and pick up the bestseller, you’d see that it has been written by one of our kids! After all, books transform you into a new world, open up opportunities and widen your imagination. And that is just exactly what we tried to do – make our kids learn, create and dream.


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