Thursday, May 6, 2010

Used Bookstore in Colombo Sri Lanka - K & S Sales - Old Curiosity Shop - Used Books Colombo Sri Lanka - Used Bookshop Colombo Sri Lanka

used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
What is serendipity?

Just before I got married, I decided I wanted to do a trip around Sri Lanka on my own. I didn't understand exactly why I did but I wanted solitude, maybe to understand myself, maybe to bid my misspent youth a fare thee well, before I took the biggest step of my life.

On my way, I went to my favourite place for buying used books, K & S Sales in Kohuwela (on Dutugemunu St, next to the Police Station, in the same building as MaxMara). It's a gigantic antique/bric-a-brac store, not unlike the ones occupied by mysterious Oriental men in movies like The Gremlins inhabit.

used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
There is hardly room to move amongst the expatriate debris - they buy houseloads from departing foreigners - and just wandering around it is a pleasure in itself. It's like Katamari Damacy collected old stuff around Sri Lanka and rolled in here: used video game systems, LPs, DVDs, statues, home accents, paintings, furniture, and most importantly, books, litter the place.

There amidst the chaos, I found a book, Footsteps by Richard Holmes: the reviews on the back were good - New York Times et al.
used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
I reached Belihuloya in the pitch black and started reading. The book was a biographical travelogue, retracing the solitary journey Robert Louis Stevenson took across Europe before he got married.

Here I was with my Mazda, there RLS was with his donkey. Together, we wandered around our psychic continents. Six days and six districts later, I finished the book by the banks of the Parakrama Samudra at the Polonnaruwa Resthouse.
used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
As a child, I read RLS' illustrated Child's Garden of Verses to pieces. Finding this connection across the centuries with the man whose poetry shaped my childhood reassured me about the changes I was making.

Finding it this way on this journey: that is serendipity.

The books at K&S are in a set of bookshelves at the back. Some are brand new, all are cheap: I've never paid more than LKR 300 for a book and often I pay only LKR 100. Because they are almost completely unordered, you can't look for an author or a title. You buy a book if the reviews on the back are good. Or you like the cover. Either way, it's cheap.
used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
So you pick up a book you've never heard of, by an author you've never read before, that a regular bookstore would never stock and you would never buy full price. When the book becomes a favourite and the trifecta plus one bet pays off, the pleasure is quadrupled.

Used bookstores and exploratory travel have the same sense of risk and reward. Exploring a place you've never been to before or reading a completely unknown book is a gamble. When it pays off, it's a pleasure. And when it doesn't? It never doesn't.
used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
Bookstore Name: K & S Sales
Address: 190 Dutugemunu St, Kohuwela
Phone: +94 11 2 825075

12 comments:

  1. thanks for introducing this amazing place!!! nice article!

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  2. Does anyone know if they have secondhand school books?

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  3. we went there last week. it was awesome! thanks for the post.

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  4. Love your post, and am considering taking a trip like that. Am not on the verge of getting married, more like trying to make up my mind to get out of a marriage. Was inspired by your post. Just want to know if you are male or female. I know that is a weird question, but I am female and wonder if it is possible in this country for a woman to do a trip like this alone. Thanks.

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  5. I'm a guy so my experience may be different. However, I've met many foreign women who've done the trip on their own and my wife has also traveled all over the country for relief work.

    I guess it depends on the place you stay at: I would avoid resthouses but places like Landa House, Halketha - which has a very nice female manager/owner - and Rainforest Edge should be fine...

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  6. Can somebody tell me where is this place exactly?

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  7. I've look for it recently and I think like many other good things, it is gone. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

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  8. hello it is still there. it is very close to the Kohuwela Police Station. On the same side of the road you get a large board with Macmara on it. K&S is just below Macmara show rooms. It is very much there

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  9. K & S is still there. Look for Kohuwela Police Station . It is about 10 yards away. On the same side of the road. There is a clothes shop - Macmara - K&S is in Macmara's basement

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  10. Can somebody tell me whether they're open on Sundays and the time?

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    1. Yes it's open on sundays

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