Located in the belly button of Hauz Khas village, towards the bottom end of its labyrinthine roads, Yodakin offers 400 sq. ft of alternative, independent and interesting titles in music, books and movies. Whether you are looking for eco-friendly activity books for tweens, CDs of alternative rock bands or esoteric art magazines, this is the place to go.
The store is founder Arpita Das’ solution to the problem of alternative books getting lost in large bookstores. Das runs Yoda Press, an independent publishing house that focuses on urban studies, sexuality and gender, among other subjects. “Large bookstores are all about brand visibility and independent publications like ours were absolutely lost there,” says Das. “They only promote books that are mass market and often published by large multinational publishing houses.”
Books are arranged according to the publishers. This helps customers get an idea of each of these publishers’ lists and areas of interest. So you can browse through titles from Katha, Blaft, Ravi Dayal and Westland, among others. For those whose interests lie left of centre, there are several LeftWord titles.
Lounge loves the periodicals section that has some interesting and well-produced titles such as Gallerie, the orange interiors and the cool bohemian vibe. And Lounge really loves the children’s section. If, like most parents, you are looking for an alternative to Princesses and Poohs, this is the place to go. Yodakin is also the only place in Delhi where you can buy Daily Dump, an eco-friendly set of books and activities for pre-teens.
The music section is equally eclectic—with Blue Frog CDs rubbing shoulders with Underscore, the label of Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan. “They have an important list called living music from the past which really is excellent music pulled out of the archives. Their CD on Marathi Natya Sangeet was picked up recently by a Japanese music aficionado. So the matching of the music and the kind of customer we have has been interesting,” Das says.
Alternative: Das started Yodakin as a retail space for Yoda books. Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Yodakin is also developing its world movie collection. Other than Palador and Shemaroo’s lists in world cinema, the store also sells Indian documentaries in the Under Construction label. If you are looking for DVDs of Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal movies, you will be able to find them here, too. The store managers are clued in, they know their music and books and you are not met with a blank stare when you enquire about something.
“Hauz Khas was a safety net,” Das says. “This place is full of eccentrics, so I thought we won’t stick out. Now, we realize that this is very much the catchment area for a store like this. A band of loyal and avid readers have now attached themselves to this place. That’s helped tremendously.”