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Delhiwale: The cherished anonymity of shop number 32

This shop owner is so in love with his wares that we suspect he doesn’t want to sell them at all

delhi Updated: Jan 09, 2018 12:01 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,shop number 32
Stamps Corner, a little shop, number 32 in the basement of Mohan Singh Place, hasn’t been written about anywhere. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Everybody wants publicity.

We are wrong.

The other day we discovered a place you won’t find on Google — until now.

Stamps Corner, a little shop, number 32 in the basement of Mohan Singh Place, hasn’t been written about anywhere. Not many will miss it if it shuts down tomorrow. And yet, it is one of those special landmarks that give a city its character.

But how to write about this place?

The owner doesn’t want to talk. “Please don’t write about me… So far, I have never given an interview, haven’t allowed myself to be profiled, haven’t told anybody of my shop’s history… and now I’m old and I want to keep it that way!”

But we want to sing a song about Stamps Corner — after all, it’s as public as any shop. So we’ll still do it but gently, and we won’t even share the shop’s photos, though we took a few. (We’ll simply show you a scene of the market’s basement.)

The board outside the shop says: “Stamps & Coins for Collection”. Inside, the walls are panelled with dark wood. The furniture includes an old metal almirah and a table with a deliciously worn-out sunmica top. The cabinets are stuffed with files and folders.

Besides showcasing stamps and coins from across the world, the display shelves are also stacked with old letters, pamphlets, souvenirs and books. We wanted to buy an old, fading French postcard, but the owner said it was a part of his private collection.

We were instantly charmed — such a delight to come across a merchant so possessive about his goods that he just doesn’t want to sell them!

Frankly speaking, we didn’t discover the place. We heard of it from a homesick Delhi guy currently in Singapore.

Few weeks ago we got this email from that man, Akshay Chopra, and we see no better way to end our piece than to quote from it: “I used to go to the Stamps Corner 20 years ago during my school days. About five years ago, during one of my trips back home, I decided to check in on the owner. He was still very optimistic about the future of philately but I have never seen anybody else in that store, ever. It feels like his goal is to just sit in his shop and read the newspaper everyday. He talks of stamps the way a businessman talks of commodities and land. Who knows how long he, Stamps Corner — or stamps — will last.”

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 11:00 IST