The beer flowed freely as avid readers browsed through second-hand books at Bandra’s Goa Café on Tuesday night. At Bombay Electric Project’s (BEP’s) Books and Beers Night, part of the Celebrate Bandra festival in partnership with the Hindustan Times, there was plenty to be had on both counts.
The sale of donated books lasted three hours, with a pint or two thrown in. And to the delight of the crowd, a free pint here and there was common.
“We collected around 600 books,” said Kenneth Lobo, one of BEP’s founding members. From John Irving’s The World According to Garp to Yoga for Beginners to a selection of Mills and Boons titles, the books represented the spectrum from the banal to the esoteric.
An energetic pulse animated the candle-lit room that the Café had let out for the sale. Friends chatted around the stalls, some sipped wine, others manoeuvred themselves into acrobatic positions to lunge for books that were out of their reach.
“It’s amazing! People are buying so fast, I barely have enough time to make a note of who is buying what. I’m just hastily counting out the cash,” said Rajeesh Marar, BEP member in charge of the cash counter. They expected to sell at least 50 per cent of their stock, he added.
Most had heard of the event through advertisements, Facebook and newspaper listings. Lobo estimated around 100 people would show up for the event based on Facebook RSVPs.
“We began as a group doing electric music, but we have branched out into other things as well,” said Lobo, whose team also holds poetry slams and music nights.
The Bengali novel Chowringhee by Sankar was the first buy of the evening. The honours went to Bandra resident Pushpa Murjan who parted with Rs 80 for this “value for money” purchase.
The cheapest books were priced as little as Rs 5 while the most expensive were in the Rs 250 bracket.
Vishal Jaiswal, who had his eye on eight books, said: “I donated some books and I’ll also buy some.”
Some made their purchases and veered off towards the bar, as BEP members walked around pricing books, responding to queries and even taking in last-minute donations.
All the money collected from the event will be contributed to the Celebrate Bandra Trust.