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Bookstore of yore

The capital city, Panaji houses numerous bookstores, but Singbal’s Book House is one that cannot be missed for its unique identity and collection of books. NT BUZZ gets details on one of the oldest and biggest bookstores

RAMANDEEP KAUR

Opposite the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is Singbal’s Book House that caters to the needs of diverse customers. The bookstore was opened in the year 1936 by Kashinath Singbal. Thereafter it was managed by his son, late Subhash Singbal. It is now run by Subhash’s son Ajit and daughter-in-law, Roma.  And although the store was renovated about eight years ago it has still retained its well-known structure.

The book house, located on the corner of the eye-catching blue and white heritage building, also made an appearance, a fleeting one at that, in the movie ‘Bourne Supremacy,’ when actor Matt Damon walked past it. Singbal’s well-stocked and quaint interiors have a warm and inviting ambience. For residents of the city, a visit there is akin to taking a walk down memory lane, owing to the fact that the store is inextricably woven into the lives of almost every student in the vicinity and beyond. For them, the beginning of every academic year, from school through college, was spent battling crowds of customers, all waiting impatiently for their shopping list of textbooks.

Before, the store had only educational and Portuguese books but it now provides a wide range of books like fiction and nonfiction, magazines, novels, children’s books, educational textbooks, guides, engineering books, etc. “These general books cater to most of the customers. The Portuguese books are not published anymore so we do not sell them,” informs Roma.

She adds that they increased the variety of books as the government began providing free textbooks for students up to class 8. “We had to add more general books in addition to our school textbooks and guides,” says Roma. Although the books required by students of the Goa Board are supplied from within the State, suppliers from Mumbai, Pune and Delhi visit the store to take book orders.

Customers range from school children to adults and also include tourists.

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