Ever since I can remember, I have sought consolation inside bookshops. Rows upon rows of books, all of them available to open anywhere and read and a space that, ideally, holds nothing but books, have been my easiest escape from reality. Even if there are other people in the bookshop at the same time as me, they don’t want to talk, either.

After moving to Delhi from Kolkata, two specific bookshops offered me this sanctuary. The first was the now-defunct Bookworm in Connaught Place, and the second was, well, The Bookshop, in Khan Market and later, in just the sleepy market of Jor Bagh. Back then, these shops were refuges from the relentless aggression and rudeness that I – everyone – encountered on the streets of Delhi.

But when the pandemic pushed us into our holes, where was I to go? Strangely, I found comfort on, of all places, Instagram, where book-lovers around the world posted the warmest photographs of book lairs.

Bookshops, libraries, living rooms, even digital creations – all of these filled my phone every evening with images—and imagined smells and textures and words – of worlds of books, and nothing but books. In moments they transported me outside time, outside the Covid-hit present, to somewhere else, with no anxieties, not even the one of having to leave home.

Read all the articles in the Comfort zone series here.