Posts Tagged 'Pune'

BigBooks Library – A Fantastic Online Book Library Service

My obsession with books is not unknown on this blog. I have at times posted yearly updates about the number of books I have read.

This year – my reading was happily boosted by a lovely online library called Bigbooks in Pune. Now that I have moved to Bangalore, I have further realized how sorely I miss it.

BigBooks has fantastic, affordable service is a fact that was further reinforced when I started comparing it with other online book services in different cities. Some other key differences were – 1. Most online rental libraries have plans that have a cap on number of books you can borrow. All the plans in BigBooks library are for unlimited books. 2. Most libraries will charge you a registration fee and a (refundable) security deposit. However, in BigBooks, none of these are required – you just pay for the plan directly – cheapest one starts at 150 bucks a month.  (Try comparing plans and prices here, here and here.)

I learnt from BigBooks FB page and blog –the owner Rahul Maskara had also started this service in the first place because he realized for even a voracious reader as himself that buying so many books was expensive. What does a reader do to quench their appetite of books – thus, a service was borne out of a need.  He quit his corporate job and plunged into getting this start-up (Rashmi Bansal, are you listening?) onboard keeping the affordability in mind.

For just 150 bucks a month, you can read unlimited borrowings of one book at a time (3-month plan is even cheaper). Believe me; I borrowed one book every day, benefitting from their free pick and drop service. Books would be delivered at my house, at my office as per my convenience. I can’t remember an instance when the transaction was dissatisfying. However, greedy to devour their vast collection, I soon graduated to other plans – two books at a time etc.

Most importantly, their collection of books is one of the best. I am a frequent buyer of books – yet I find it hard to spend money on expensive graphic novels. Most libraries’ understanding of graphic novels is restricted to Archie, Tintin and at best, Asterix. Now, BigBooks has graphic novels ranging from manga writer Osamu Tezuka, Neil Gaimon, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Alison Bechdel and so on. All these comic books are expensive and most of the online rental libraries do not have such books in their collection.

Not only that, they have a wonderful recommendation/request system – just add your request and it is taken care of as soon as possible. Almost all my recommendations even though I was a very new customer and had not even made the first payment – were heard– I got to read all the books I wanted, just as owner Rahul kept assuring that I will.

When new books arrive in the genre of your interest, Rahul even calls you to inform and ask – A new book has arrived, do you want to read it? One might be mistaken that I was a special customer, but truth is they were doing that for almost everyone. Most of friends subscribing the service reported that they were informed and provided choice to add that book to their reading list.

BigBooks library is available in two cities – Pune and Bombay. Go ahead and support this wonderful (and extremely useful) start-up. Try out their service and you won’t be disappointed. (They do have a cheap trial plan as well.)

It is very simple to register. Next steps are to create a queue of books you want to read and then select a plan. For any help, you can call Rahul’s number (also, on the BigBooks Website): +919665401232.

P.S – Rahul, you had told me while I was leaving Pune that you plan to take BigBooks to Bangalore. By a quirk of fate, I have landed up in Bangalore instead of Delhi. Please do bring your wonderful library to Bangalore, I promise to be your first customer in the city.

Angels of the Day

…are the auto-wallahs I met today.

Yes, you heard it right. 🙂

Truthfully, most harrowing thing that I have encountered in Pune has been its auto rickshaws.

Some days ago, I was actually stuck with an auto driver, who was taking me round and round the same place, asking directions to random people, taking random turns. I got very scared inwardly since I didn’t know my way to home either and it was about 9 already. I finally ordered him to stop, threw some bills (even though I was still within mile of my source point) and ran away.

Pune auto rickshaws have used every trick in the book to cheat me. They usually tell you incorrect fare, since meter shows only distance covered. Once, they used Bombay or some other place rate card (which had higher rates), lied to me that in the morning newspaper tariffs have been increased, had faulty meter that stopped in between and now they demand unreasonable price. Of course, I have deflected most of them barring once or twice, because I can easily calculate the fare correctly.

So today, when hurriedly paid some bills (usual fare) to the auto wallah and was rushing out to office, he stopped me to hand me some bills back. I gaped in confusion.

He was forty-ish bespectacled Muslim driver with hennaed hair and beard.

He explained, I had paid him more money. And I remembered then that I had flagged auto away from home so obviously it was less fare. Gingerly, I told him, no one ever takes less. He dismissed my observation with curt “Banta nahi to kyun lun.” Loosely meaning, if that is not the deserved cost, why should I take.

I was so touched by this gentleman’s gesture, I blessed him hundred times in my heart. For reinforcing my faith in people. And auto wallahas. 😀 God bless him!

Similarly, on my way back from the malls of my swine-flu city, where I had accompanied a friend to find a nice gift for her husband (What do you gift men, by the way, besides clothes, accessories, wallets, cologne?), I easily found an auto way back. By meter. It is a minor miracle since I live in bit far-end of city; and auto rickshaws refuse to ply at times.

Next time I complain about auto rickshaws, remind me of this post. By the way, is there anything we can do when autowallahs refuse to ply and overcharge? 8)

Swine Flu Diary

I sneezed.

Immediately I checked if my nails were blue and that if I could breathe properly. Now I definitely wasn’t getting fresh air. I was standing in queue at a closeted billing counter of a departmental store. It was definitely hard to breathe fresh air there.

Other than me, everyone wore masks both inside and outside the mall.  Why not, I am in swine flu capital, Pune. I have to check my symptoms at every sneeze or cough, to be sure.

I do carry a scarf these days to cover my mouth like a bandida, but it’s a suffocating feeling.

Interestingly, Pune girls, even before we had heard of swine flu, have been tying headscarves (instead of helmets) while driving as protection against pollution. Their headscarves are unique in that cover their entire face and head except eyes.

Pune Girls Wearing Headscarves

Pune Girls Wearing Headscarves - Pic courtesy Eric Parker's Photo stream

A new Police Commissioner tried to ban headscarves in vain, amidst the hue and cry of Pune girls. So, owing to use of these headscarves I think, Pune girls at least are safe from air-borne swine flu contamination. 🙂

Continue reading ‘Swine Flu Diary’

Delhi to Pune

Life can change in a moment.

Suddenly I decided to pack my bags and move to a different city. Not that sudden though, since I did have about 20 days to prepare. There was not a day when I did not lament about having to leave my city, Delhi. Delhi is home, and leaving home is never so simple.

I entered Pune while it was raining hard. Rains had delayed my flight was by half and hour, it took even longer at the conveyor belt. Flights are sometimes painful experience for me, since I have a peculiar trouble in flight. So delay was certainly unhappy, coupled it was though by yucky in-flight movie: Chandni Chowk to China! More about that later.

Continue reading ‘Delhi to Pune’


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