often referred to as the Boi Para (boi: book, para:
neighbourhood), and sometimes also College Para, is the location
of Kolkata's most renowned academic institutions like Presidency College,
Kolkata University, Kolkata Medical College, the Sanskrit College, Hare
and Hindu School.
Not surprisingly, the book stall owners find ready clientele in this
neighbourhood. Students in search of reference and text books, avid
readers of every genre, book-lovers in hopes of finding a hidden treasure
are more often than not rewarded with a rare find at a throwaway price.
Kolkatans are well-known for their interest in books of all kinds and
many visit this area once in every week, even daily if only to spend
a couple of hours browsing through piles of second hand books displayed
at the stalls and perhaps strike a good bargain. Some stall owners are
very knowledgeable about books and can even tell you immediately whether
a particular book can be found at all.
Renowned writers, intellectuals, artists and other celebrities have
often spent a lot of time hanging out in this area and in the famous
Albert Hall(Coffee House) which is located just opposite the Presidency
College. There are also some old bookshops on the northern end of the
road in the same block as the Coffee House. Indeed it is hard to imagine
College Street without the book stalls. A city wide drive to evict hawkers
operating on the pavements at various places in city a couple of years
ago was carried out successfully. But the Boi Para was, as a matter
of policy, left untouched. No doubt these booksellers enjoy the patronage
of Kolkatans at every level of the society.