I have been looking at the simply brilliant books by Tara books and its art galleries. I thought they were very innovative in using the native Indian art forms for story-telling, especially for children. In the meantime, I wrote a business case study on them for CII’s India Innovates series. That is when I came to know of their bookstore in Chennai. And it got added to my to-be-visited list for the next Chennai visit. So this Oct, when I was in Chennai for a business meeting and had just a couple of hours to myself, I walked into the book store at Thiruvaniyur in Chennai.
Tara Books Store, Chennai
Thankfully they have marked themselves very clearly on Google maps. And have put a couple of boards in the lanes leading to them; otherwise, it would be a nightmare to locate them. As I entered the house converted into office cum bookstore cum public space for readings and meetings, the first thing that locked the eyes was the colorful walls and pillars with stories painted on them. Color-laden books were piled up against the white stands in a way that colors stood out even more brightly.
Once I introduced myself, the staff took me around the space. The ground floor is a bookstore, first floor more of meeting space with the artworks from the books splayed on the walls. The top floor is the editorial office where the designers and the editors work from. The narrow spiral staircase that connects the three floors is not devoid of art either. Below the spiral is a neatly painted snake. And in the footsteps, I could see letters E, M etc marked with an arrow sign. I was told these lead you to various parts of the building like editing, meeting, etc. Very interesting!
Standing at this books store was like being in a culture lab. Walls, books, and designs – everything shows you the glimpses of diversity that Indian artisans can create with the same few basic colors. Madhubani, Pithora, Patua, Pattachitra & Bhil arts appear to be talking to each other, letting you draw parallels and differences in them and make you absorb them in a unique way. It is a place that celebrates visual storytelling by not just making stories come alive on their pages, but also by providing better livelihood options to Indian folk artists. They are sending stories from India across the world as their books get translated into many global languages across the world.
Flipped through the books, picked up a couple of books with an urge to buy more…
If you love books and if you have young children, Tara Books store is a highly recommended place on your next visit to Chennai. Visiting the store would be a learning experience in itself.