My dream : to open a library in my village Darkot (Munsyari)

Hi Kids and friends,

As you know I am from the hills of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. I come from a middle-class trader’s family. In my family, as with many other families of traders, books and knowledge were considered secondary. My father, grandfather were all traders with Tibet and were always on the move from one place to another. So they had little time for school, study, books, etc…

In our village, I still remember the way people respected each other. All families were more or less busy with trading and its related activities. But there came a turning point when everything got changed. It was a war when our neighbouring country China invaded our country in 1962 and Tibet was completely taken over by China and the result was Tibet got closed for Indian traders.

That was a tough time for all of us. But very soon families realised the importance of education. So they started sending their children to schools. One of my grandparents used to read religious books particularly Ramayana, Mahabharata, Kalyan. Sometimes he would call us and show us the pictures of Gods and Goddesses. I was fascinated with those colourful pictures of Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Pandavas and many others. As I grew older and was able to read, he allowed me to read those religious books. That was my first encounter with books other than school books.

I remember having read the story about Arjuna. I was particularly impressed with the way he gave respect to his teacher (Guru) Dronacharya. In fact Guru Dronacharya passed on all his knowledge to Arjuna which made him the greatest archer of his time. Arjuna knew the value of knowledge. It seems Arjuna once said, “In this life everything perishes over a period of time. Whether it be diamond, beauty, gold or even land. Only one thing withstands this destruction. It is knowledge. The more you give the more you get.”

A teacher gives knowledge to students and I consider him the richest person. I think that is the reason a teacher is respected; not for his riches but because he is the source of knowledge.

Apart from teachers, I think Books play a quintessential role in every student’s life. They provide knowledge of the outside world, improving their reading, writing and speaking skills as well as boosting memory and intelligence.

I had not seen any library till I passed my intermediate as there was no library in my village or in Munsyari where my college was located. However, as a student, my first expedition I ever made to a library was to the ‘Durga Sah Municipal library’ in Nainital when I came there for my graduation and post-graduation.

An interesting episode is linked to how the Durga Sah Library came into existence in Nainital. Late Mr. Mohan Lal Sah, an eminent citizen of the town, frequently rued the fact that there was no library in Nainital. He came up with a proposal to establish a library during the municipal corporation meeting in 1933-34. The then chairman, Mr. Busher refused the proposal saying that the Municipal Corporation didn’t have enough budget for such a project. He told the members present in the meeting that building a library would cost about Rs. 5000 which the Municipal Corporation couldn’t afford. The proposal was rejected.

Mr. Mohan Lal Sah offered to donate Rs. 5000 for the project on the condition that the forthcoming library is named after his father Durga Lal Sah. His proposal was accepted and a library was built. This library went on to become one of the best in the whole of North India. Even today, it hosts some very important and rare books.

Thus the work of Shri Mohan Lal Shah brought true colours for the people of Nainital and they still avail the facilities of this Library and take it as the blessings of Shri Mohan Lal Shah.The library was a center of attraction for the locals and tourists alike. People from all parts of the country visited it and savoured the books. The ex-President of India Mr, Varah Giri Venkat Giri was the Governor of UP 1957 and 1960. During his summer stay in Nainital, he would make it a point to visit this library. He was so impressed by the library that he called it a ‘heritage of the hill station.’

When I was in Nainital, I used to visit this library often in the evening. I still remember the cupboards with glass panes of the library so that one could read the titles of the books easily. Newspapers and weeklies were piled up neatly. Tables and chairs were laid for people to sit and read. There was absolute silence. I started reading children’s books and story and history books and used to be absorbed in them until it was dark and time to go to my rented room. Years passed and I did my post graduation. By that time, I had finished reading a good number of books in that library.

One such evening, I was coming back from the library. It was dark and the street lights were blinking. Suddenly an idea came to my mind …how about having a library in Munsyari. But how…? I had no clue. But often I used to think about it but when the question of resources for opening the library came to my mind, I found myself helpless. 

Soon I got a job and got posting at different places. It was a time taking job where I hardly found time even to follow my hobby i.e. reading books, travel, etc. After retirement I settled in Haldwani where I started purchasing and collecting books of my choice. Today I am happy to have a small personal library of more than 160 books in my home at Haldwani.

But my dream of opening a small library in Munsyari is still in the back of my mind. I had read somewhere that there was a great man called Andrew Carnegie in the USA. He was a billionaire who lived a century back. He willed all his wealth not to his children, but to build library buildings in as many villages as possible. I have not seen America, but it seems any library you see in any village in America was invariably built using Andrew Carnegie’s money. ‘I do not know how long I will live, but today I realized how much I love opening a library in my village.

I am not rich like Carnegie, but certainly I have a strong desire to open a library in Darkot, Munsyari. The biggest problem was to get a room for the library. Now our people have built a Kachehry (कचहरी) in Darkote (Munsyari) near Devi Temple, in which there are four rooms and one of the rooms has been provided for the library.

So Kids, I am in the process of opening a library in Darkot, Munsyari. I have already purchased more than 180 books..and few magazines for children, teens, older people and book-lovers…all brand new and choicest ones. Books are both in English and Hindi. I have also purchased two cricket bats and few balls, one volley-ball, a football, chess, carrom. Some of my friends are helping me in this regard. Very soon the library will be operational and I will post a detailed write up on that…I am excited …

If you want to donate some books, please let me know through my email – harishcsingh13@gmail.com

Your donation will go a long way in building a useful, children friendly library.

See you soon with my new post.

Take care.

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