First the directions. Turn left from Russel Street (off Park Street) on to the busy Middleton Street, walk a bit and you will come across a wall on your left, with a mounted glass case full of books and prints. It grabs your attention, this touch of quirk and good taste on such a noisy, chaotic road. There's nothing there, no sign or poster, to advertise what this showcase of books is all about. You have to go in through the gate beside it. Walk to the end of the path, and you will see a wooden handpainted door (tall people will have to duck in) with a sign above that says 'Earthcare Books'.
Inside, the floor is red oxide, the bamboo and rattan furniture lends the space a cosy feel. Books are stocked according to theme in separate areas with arched entry points. Each section has specialised books, fiction and (mostly) non-fiction, on history and philosophy, women and gender, adivasi issues, conservation, architecture, ecology, nature, tree species in cities, snakes, reptiles and other wildlife, health, and much more. On the wall above are framed black and white photos of Kolkata, taken by Thomas Patrick Kiernan who has been capturing the city since the 1990s.
It’s a quiet space, perfect for long browsing sessions; sometimes the staff will offer you a hot cup of chai in a bhaar (clay cup). Take your time browsing, most people say they have never been here without making a wonderful discovery. Every wall is stacked. And you will come across some gems, books you never would have otherwise found and which are not sold in mainstream bookstores.
If you cannot make it to Kolkata, do check out their website. They can also send you the books by courier or Speed Post. And Kolkata folks, you can add yourself to their mailing list because they often host interesting talks, music events, as well as workshops on urban gardening.
Address: 10 Middleton Street, Kolkata 700071.
Tel: + 91 33 22296551 / 22276190.