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Delhiwale: To Shakespeare, with love

Bhaskar Ghose is a books guy, a proper Shakespeare walla who has read all the plays and all the sonnets. His Mayur Vihar I apartment has nearly a thousand books all arranged without any order.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2017 12:02 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Bhaskar Ghose first read the entire Shakespeare collection during his holidays in the hill town of Nainital. He was just 17. He is now in his 70s and Shakespeare is still a passion.
Bhaskar Ghose first read the entire Shakespeare collection during his holidays in the hill town of Nainital. He was just 17. He is now in his 70s and Shakespeare is still a passion.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

We know Bhaskar Ghose as that TV guy. He was the director general of Doordarshan (and his daughter and son-in-law are famous TV journalists). But he is also a book guy. And not any book guy — a proper Shakespeare walla who has read all the plays and all the sonnets. He has even read Cymbeline (who reads Cymbeline!)

We are at the retired bureaucrat’s apartment in Mayur Vihar I. The house is crowded with writers and poets (one room is filled with mystery thrillers… oh no, we’d sworn not to mention it.)

Mr Ghose’s study looks neat and the complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica looks fresh. But peer closely at the bookracks and you shall see a madness to the method. The room has probably a thousand books, all arranged without any order. Anthony Burgess is clinging tight to Khushwant Singh and Rabindranath Tagore is with AS Byatt. The TS Eliot hardbound is a delight to watch and hold. One beautifully yellowing hardback is a Wallace Stevens. Sadly, silverfish has damaged the book. The first page has a handwritten inscription: Bhaskar Ghose St Stephen’s College, 1955.

And there’s the bard — the Complete Works is impossible to ignore. This large Oxford Shakespeare was bought in Oxford itself by Ravi Dayal. The late editor had later gifted it to Mr Ghose, his dear friend.

Mr Ghose first read the entire Shakespeare collection during his holidays in the hill town of Nainital. He was just 17. He is now in his 70s and while Shakespeare is still a passion, the heart is too big to contain just one writer. The man professes love for a famous drawing-room novelist. “Jane (Austen) is like my devi,” he says. A house help brings us a plate of dainty sandwiches that we eat in a very non-dainty fashion. We leave Mr Ghose with his Shakespeare. Later that evening, we receive a message from him. He is unable to find his precious TS Eliot.