Rare Booksellers in the Press - A Tribute to Madhava Rao, One of those Antiquarian Booksellers Who Preferred no Publicity
“When I first chanced on Madhava Rao’s bookshop, I got the shock of my life. It was the very picture of an antiquarian bookstore. Bibliophiles in India will know how truly rare it is to find a rare books shop in this country. I was thrilled beyond words and, when I had finished slavering over the books (restored and shelved with impeccable care), exclaimed that I just had to write about his marvellous antiquarian bookshop, which was two rooms on the terrace of his house in Basavanagudi. With equal intensity, he forbade me to write about him or his East-West Bookshop. He was content, he said, with a customer base drawn from word-of-mouth. “I don’t like too many people coming here,” he added.
As I got ready to leave, he suspected I might sneak in a little piece on him after all and made me promise that I would not write anything. “But when can I write about your bookshop, then?” I asked, not fully believing that I had to remain silent about what seemed like one of the most remarkable bookstores in India — one that turned out to be right under my very nose, in the city I lived in. He replied, “When I finally close the bookshop.”
Bangalore’s most famous antiquarian bookseller, Madhava Rao, died on March 3, 2013, at the age of 78. Throughout his life, he preferred to have NO publicity, although he ran one of the most beautiful – and typical – rare book stores worldwide.
Now Pradeep Sebastian has portrayed this amazing bookseller, his shop, and his legacy in The Hindu: