Bengal Boi: The home of inked magic  

by Tajnim Imami

Reading is an immersive experience where the words inked on the pages give expression to all our senses. However, finding a space to read is often just as important as the act of reading itself. Bengal Boi is one such place where the stories between the pages make their home. With a cafe, a stationary and an outdoor area for cultural events, the three storied Bengal Boi, a concern of the Bengal foundation, is a book store like no other. Their slogan ‘boi er majhe doob’ perfectly sums up the beauty of this bookworm’s kingdom.

Here, books are not just1I2A8429 neatly arranged according to genre and author. They are displayed face up to showcase the cover made by an artist or a graphic designer with as much love as the author and illuminated by lights like luxury items or priceless paintings at a gallery. With fiction, poetry, short story, classic, historical, political, motivational, photography, cooking and a world of all other kinds of books, the store is a maze of joy and surprise. Bengal Boi extends the courtesy of letting visitors read brand new books off the shelves at the premises. To accommodate the bookworms, the store has tables and chairs almost always occupied by readers of every taste poring over pages of all manners of mystery and solution.   1I2A8458

The sprawling 13,000 sq ft area of this grand bookstore was a renovation project led by architect Tahmida Afroze. The aim was to create a space that embodies the relationship readers have with their books. So, with that in mind, Tahmida and her team set off to connect the two duplex houses on the acquired land and reconstruct the whole place into one giant bookstore that exudes a homely ambiance despite its open, bright and minimalist interior. The narrow alleyway that separated the two buildings have been linked together with wooden bridges and surrounded by glass in some places. The view from the bridge on the third floor gives an interesting look at the life that flows between the floors and around the building. The sight of the coffee shop on the second floor on one side and the bustling street of road 27 of Dhanmandi on the other render a feeling of rush and relaxation at the same time. The two giant vertical gardens verdant with fluttering ferns beautifully adorn the glass enclosed gap between the two old buildings.

The entrance of Bengal Boi greets visitors with a mural by artist Wakilur Rahman. It is a metal carved canvas of books fluttering open with promises to take the readers on a flight of fancy away from the dissonance of life. The ground floor has shelves full of old books where readers may exchange two of their own books for one. The place also arranges cultural events that feature classical and folk performances at the lawn.1I2A8483

On weekend mornings, there is a regular feature called shokaler nasta that serves traditional Bangladeshi breakfast items such as khichuri, luchi, ruti, omlette and bhaji. The cafe on the second floor, called Baranday Coffee, serves some delicious desserts along with coffee and tea. The best part is that a reader may take books into the cafe area to read as well. The balcony leading out of the cafe gives the perfect view of any event taking place at the lawn. The rooftop of Bengal Boi will soon be open for a kebab zone named Chilekothay Kebab.

The third floor, endearingly named Akashkushum, is a wonderland for children full of the most colorful and fantastical books. It has a stationary on one side and holds children’s event every week with art classes, storytelling, magic shows, movies etc. The holes on the walls with cushions resemble little caves that are designed to recreate the cozy crawlspace children like for their moments of reveries. The bright, geometric furniture made for them are just as suitable for parents to spend some quality time with their children.  1I2A8435

A bookstore is not only a place for acquiring books. It is a place that nurtures epiphanies, discoveries and the most otherworldly experiences trapped in words within pages. Bengal Boi is such a place that welcomes visitors with its magical charm and promises to unearth the riddles of mankind and beyond.

 

Bengal Boi will be taking online orders soon at http://www.bengalboi.com/

Open 7 days a week ( 9.00 am- 9:30 pm)

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