Social activist, Ishmael Samad, has caught the eyes of book lovers with his unorthodox stall located along the Manzanilla stretch.
Standing alongside some one-dozen other stalls selling fruits and other produce, Samad’s “Book Junkie” offers a different kind of commerce from what one would expect to find at the roadside.
Speaking to Guardian Media in front of the stall in Manzanilla on Sunday, Samad said not only was it a book store, but it’s also a library and book club.
“You can come and buy books if you wish, if you want to come and spend the whole day reading—that’s fine, no charge,” he said.
The “cabin,” as he calls it, is populated with books he’s collected over the years and at yard and book sales. They range from “theology, philosophy, history, politics, you name it. There’s something for you.”
Some books which he believes are special or important are reserved for the library and aren’t for sale.
“Books are your best friends and the people who come here, we all have one thing in common—we love reading books,” he said.
Samad said he was grateful for the public’s response to his initiative, and after receiving over a dozen visitors on Saturday, he was able to raise enough money to pay his first month’s rent of $200. He hopes that one day the stall would become a national institution but in the meantime, he said: “…this is an opportunity for me to pass on my love for books to my fellow Trinis, especially the young generation.”
He also plans to acquire another “cabin” so he can have one dedicated to the store and the other to house the library and book club.
But why Manzanilla?
Samad initially tried to set up his shop in the Sangre Grande market but was declined. He then turned to streets in Sangre Grande but was told by police he would only be able to operate after 5 pm. And that’s when he stumbled upon the “cabin” in Manzanilla.
“And you know something, this is an exceedingly-beautiful part of Trinidad,” he said.
Samad describes the area, more specifically Kernahan Village, as his second home; falling in love with it after visiting the area for bird watching in October last year.
Every weekend he has made the journey from Sangre Grande to visit since then.