Pradeep Sebastian pays tribute to “that humble, hole-in-the-wall affair we have come to call the private circulating library”–a very different affair from the American conception of a public library. In the late 1990s, he notes sadly, “circulating libraries went out of circulation”. The article sent the Babu off on his very own nostalgia trip as he recollected the sublime strangeness of discovering Nancy Mitford and Upton Sinclair cheek by jowl with tattered issues of Shankar’s Weekly, Champak and as Sebastian recalls, Korak.

The Babu appreciates Mohammed Wajihuddin’s reproach to those who, in a land devoted to the excessive celebration of anniversaries, have obscured the memory of the poet who gave India Sare Jahaan Se Accha. He is not so sure that Iqbal’s secular credentials need to be stressed so strongly: would the poet’s works have been less worthy of praise without them?