Crossword bookstore opened in Kemps Corner when I was in middle school. Since then, trips to Bombay became exponentially more fun, because I knew I’d get to spend hours browsing through the sunny, peaceful store. I could walk there from my dadi’s (old) place and contentedly sit among books and read. Back then, I didn’t have much else to do.
Before Crossword, there was (and still is) Strand, my cousin Krupa’s favorite, and Oxford, another one she likes. I agree with her that those two bookstores have an excellent selection. But in Strand is there is barely any room to browse and no room to sit; the store is cramped, the rows are narrow and luxurious sunlight doesn’t pour through the windows as it does in Crossword. Oxford is a nice bookstore, but it’s at Churchgate, which is a little far from me. Also, upstairs in Crossword is Café Moshe, a cute Mediterranean cafe that beats the Starbucks-Barnes and Noble pair.
Crossword is a chain, with locations throughout India now, though I think the Bombay store was the first one to open. Its selection has definitely improved over the years. True, sometimes I get incredibly frustrated that they don’t have a particular book that is a classic, or a best seller, or just plain famous; and I get annoyed that books are definitely NOT arranged in alphabetical order; and some of their sections are kind of weird- the section on homes and interior decorating is enormous, but the poetry section is tiny. However, going to Crossword is kind of like visiting Bombay: I know I’ll be frustrated at times, but I’ll ultimately leave with a bunch of good memories.
This time, I added the following books to my collection:
Train to Pakistan, by Kushwant Singh
Just finished this book and loved it.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver
Clear Light of Day, by Anita Desai
Bitter Sweets, by Roopa Farooki
Other Colours, by Orhan Pamuk
Animal’s People, by Indra Sinha
A Matter of Taste: The Penguin Book of Indian Writing on Food
Above Average, by Amitabha Bagchi
Selected Short Stories of Saadat Manto
The HarperCollins Collection of Urdu Short Stories
A couple days ago, after gallivanting around town with my mother and dadi, we went to Moshe in Crossword for afternoon coffee. (Jetlag is hitting me particularly badly this time and I become intensely sleepy around 4 pm, and intensely awake around 4 am. It kind of sucks because by the time I adjust, I’ll be heading back to the States.) My mom tells me that everyone in India drinks instant coffee; it’s what I’ve been consuming every morning even though it fails to wake me up. However, Moshe at Crossword serves real coffee; it is strong and satisfying and I wish I could drink it every morning. We ordered coffee, tea, and two slices of pie.
On the left is the prune apricot pie. In a pie, prunes soften and release their deep, winey flavors. They are addictively good when paired with the milder apricot that takes some of the edge off. This pie, with its buttery crumble and flowery, almond scented crust was like a sweet sandwich of joy.
The pear tart was a little boring. Cinnamon, pears, almonds, blah blah blah.
Moshe also serves sandwiches, salads, and soups; you can buy your bagels, breadsticks, and bread loaves from the cafe.