Textbooks, the newest literature

NEET and TET are the new literature the book lovers’ paradise in Kolkata is thriving on. For the uninitiated, NEET is National Eligibility and Entrance Test and TET is Teachers’ Eligibility Test. While the former is a national test, the latter is a state-level menace, capable enough to shoot the book lover inside you at sight, if you are in College Street.

If you think of embarking on a nostalgic walk through College Street, smelling of intellect borrowed from books, movies or your childhood memories, utter a small prayer before braving the new world of latest edition on the latest curriculum of the best TET/NEET/WBCS books.

The success rate in these exams does not stand anywhere near the sales figures of these books. No wonder, every book store has an enviable collection of those books. And those which do not have these books must have school textbooks or reference books. Otherwise, what’s the use of standing tall, or even medium in the booklovers erm… textbook lovers’ den?

College Street (Prestigious colleges dot both the sides of the street) was always a place of cacophony. So yesterday when I was forced to look at the best and latest NEET books on the store by an eager shopkeeper, I was not rankled. Instead I was enjoying the fact that I do not come across a non-NEET person, albeit my love and expertise in ‘Science’ subjects. Many of you may not know that it is an entrance test for medical studies.

Talking about cacophony, I remember that during my college days we used to play a foolish game. The bet was one has to walk through a sidewalk of College Street without being hollered at by the booksellers. I never won in that. But yes, I remember the winner rushed with a disgust writ on his face, defiance articulated by his gesture, and he whizzed past the enthusiasm of the sellers.

I had the same feelings yesterday.

If I have a specific book on my mind, then I will enter a bookshop and buy it. For that purpose, there are Flipkart, Amazon and several other virtual book marts. You click, buy and get done with it. You don’t chance upon a book; you don’t come across a translation of a Russian fairytale. Neither do you lay your hands on second-hand classics, first page of which will unmistakably bear the name of the owner.

You will unfold the corner of one page, hover your fingers on the unmindful design the erstwhile owner of the book had rendered on the right side of the page and think what forced him or her to part with such a precious possession.

No, the shiny world of textbooks has little space for explorers.