Affair: Book fair

The last time I went to the Kolkata book fair was 10 years ago. Since then, I have stayed outside Kolkata, and each year I would come to Kolkata in December, and find it impossible to manage leaves in late January / early February (when Book fair is held each year). Last year, I was here in the city, but circumstances were gloomy this time last year. So, this year, I had to go. After all it's a Kolkatan tradition!

Now, if you don't know already, Kolkata book fair used to be held in the central open area of Kolkata, known as Maidan. But due to environmental reasons, it has been shifted to a new location, which most of us consider as outskirts and 'odd'. But once inside, I don't think the spirit is any different from what it used to be.

It's still full of passionate people moving from one kiosk to another stall, with loads of pamphlets in hand. Still, bunch of college kids hang out together there, tired from all the walking, looking for a place to sit and a sip of water. The 'intellectual' Bong (in Bengali, we call them 'Antel') searching for one particular book in every stall. The small publishers employing someone outside their stall to get people to visit their stall. The odd romeo, with no inclination towards books, but just happy to see all the pretty ladies. The odd announcement for 'little Ruma' who got lost in the fair, and whose parents are waiting outside the official kiosk. The rare foreigner, trying to soak in all the chaos and frenzy. The grumpy parent scolding the disgruntled kid to stop asking for more books. The sketch artist, oblivious to surrounding onlookers, replicating a face on paper. The young jobless lamenting the lack of money to buy all the books he wanted. It's still the same old Kolkata book fair.

It is ironic that the same old Maidan ground was used for a political rally on the last day of book fair; and cooking, eating, littering and all associated acts were performed liberally there. One bus even got smoldered by a gas cylinder burst. Why was the Book fair shifted, again?

Anyway, I bought a few books, and can't wait to read them. Thank heavens, there's such a wonderful tradition here.

18 comments:

Anuradha said...

hey brings back memories of good old days, book fair meant multiple visits since a single visit at the yearly fair wouldn't be sufficient and ofcourse the dusty ground, the smell of fresh popcorn and the books you would take back home..

I am said...

:P :P...the book fair was shifted just so that I can reach it in 5min without having to deal with traffic and pollution :))

I told the Envi. minister to move it...and they accepted..it :P :P, :)

msst..mssst.. :)..i am smiling with satisfaction to see u wonder why it moved as I write :) he he..

On, a lighter which books did u get?
Are there such book fairs anywhere else in the world (I think there was something like this in Russia, but not sure)?

And yes, dinuiyaa badal jayegi but all the traits captured in Calcutta Book Fair shall persist for ever ...

Reeta Skeeter said...

well well..The Book Fair @ Pragati Maidaan in Delhi also has all the same traits :)except that there are a few Antels and a few more foreigners....
But I see you getting all nostalgic about Calcutta Book Fair having visited it after long..
And as Tanu asked....what books did you get..ye kyun ni likha post mein..grr..

~ ॐ ~ said...

Bhai I thought it was Moidan... did I not hear it right when I was there or what?

Waise Dilli Book Fair bhi bahut mast hota hai... Tu kabhi nahin gaya kya Pragati Maidan mein attend karne?

B. O'Hemian said...

@Anu
I know - single visits were never enough :)

@Tanu
Yeah, yeah.. you Salt Lakers...
I am sure there are other book fairs, but not sure about the number of people.
I got a book on birds, The Malgudi collection, one on science & religion, and one on Manhattan project.

@Reets
Delhi book fair - I have never been to... would love to go once, at least. When is it normally held? And yeah, it's really nice and nostalgic to go back to a place which has been part of my growing up.

@Om
Bhai... it's Moidan the way people say it here... but it's really Maidan, like the way you would say it in Hindi. But I am proud of you... I like the way you write "Robindro Shodon" :)

Kanchan said...

I’ve not been to the Kolkata book fair yet but can almost see the people there, smell the smells and soak in the atmosphere going by what you have written. Not to mention the happy anticipation and thrill of buying books. Curling up with a good book is my remedy for everything, and it's not let me down ever :)

B. O'Hemian said...

Cuddling up with a good book IS therapy :)

Reeta Skeeter said...

Err I might be wrong here but as far as I remember in 2008 it was held in August end-September and I think another book fair is organised at the same venue in February also. Shall update you on this as and when...

Anjuli said...

Book Fair...good hai...

I liked your virtual pet :)

Aarbee said...

Have fun reading. :)


And I knew that story. :D

~ ॐ ~ said...

Oh !!!! I thought it was just a ground, and not the only one so people really are not calling a ground or a maidan a maidan... I used to things because its a ground, it has been named Moidan !

phew... confusion...

and I just speak what I hear bro... i loved the way places sound in Kolkata :)

B. O'Hemian said...

@Reets
Cool :)

@Anjuli
Can't keep one at home, so... virtual :)

@RB
I will... you have fun traveling :)

@Om
Confusion... I know! You come here, I will explain the history and geography of the city.

Butterfly said...

What books did you buy?

B. O'Hemian said...

I got a book on common birds in India, The Malgudi collection (Swami and friends, etc), one on science & religion, and Biswasghatak (on Manhattan project) by Narayan Sanyal.

Blunder girl!! said...

Am not a book-worm but i always manage to visit it atleast once... if not to buy books but to see the crowd and 2 hop around with frnds to diff stall.. Where my frnds or cousins..whom so ever i go with .. are stuck in the stalls i spend my time watching the art and the artists.. (Damn they are so talented).I guess to me that is the best thing...

B. O'Hemian said...

Oh, you bet - they are talented!

Rohit Talwar said...

Delhi Book Fair is coming! Delhi Book Fair is coming! Delhi Book Fair is coming!

B. O'Hemian said...

I wish I was there... I wish I was there... I wish I was there.