Stories From The Camp: The In-House Library
If you love books, you will surely love the library, Rupert Winchester has curated for you at our Chamba Camp, Thiksey
When I arrived at Chamba Camp, Thiksey, being a bookish sort of a chap, I was excited to see the library. Occupying a corner of reception, I was looking forward to a cavalcade of deep works of reference as well as memoirs, straightforward travel guides and works on the history and culture of the region.
And what did I find? Paperback crime novels, mainly. Plenty of Harlan Coben and James Patterson. No shortage of Girls with Dragon Tattoos. All of them well-thumbed and dog-eared. Not quite the image that TUTC should be projecting.
Having worked as a librarian, edited a literary magazine and run a bookshop, I took it upon myself to set things right. An application was made to senior management for a budget for books. And, lo and behold, I was told to do whatever was necessary to make sure that the camp had a library that was commensurate with the aims and ideals of TUTC. Which meant that I got to go out and spend freely, and make the library a thing of beauty.
Now, there’s nothing I like more than spending other people’s money on books. I could, quite happily, do it all day long. So I went to Leh, which has a couple of surprisingly good bookshops, and cut loose. And now, I’m happy to say, the Chamba Camp, Thiksey has a library it can be proud of, that fits in with the aims and values of TUTC, and that should be a source of almost inexhaustible pleasure and information to all.
We have travel guides (Trekking in Ladakh; Exploring Ladakh), field guides (Concise Flowers of the Himalayas; Birds and Mammals of Ladakh) histories (Ladakh Through the Ages; A History of Kashmir), books on culture, religion, travelogues and the local language (these are popular with our Hindi-speaking staff, who are always looking to improve their customer skills).
One of our most senior and knowledgeable guides has just popped in to check a fact on thirteenth century Buddhist frescoes for a monastery visit this afternoon. The camp naturalist has been busy with a botanical guide, brushing up on the varieties of borage and flox.
And the guests love the photography books, with their huge and exquisite vistas that they’ll see when they go out into Ladakh itself. All in all, the library is now functioning, as a library should; a source of knowledge and entertainment, a repository of information and amazement and beauty, and one that befits TUTC. I’m more than a little proud of it.
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