With the International Kolkata Book Fair having kicked off, it was time for us to pay our annual visit. It is a tradition of sorts for people in Kolkata – a quintessential part of the blink-and-you-miss winter here. You don’t question why – you just go!
The fair had lost some of its sheen when back in 2006 it was shifted out of the Maidan – which was the perennial fair grounds of the city back then. But going by the recent figures, which positions it as the book fair with the greatest footfall in the world – the fair surely seems to have regained some of its lost glory! So the Milan Mela Ground doesn’t seem to be a bad spot after all!
We purposefully avoided the weekends – when only the foolhardy would dare venture into those grounds (seems there is no dearth of such people in the city). We like to browse through the stalls in peace, with no one nudging and shoving us around, having had enough of that during Durga Puja and Christmas last year.
The grounds were pretty crowded, but the book stalls relatively empty, and the sellers vociferously voiced their dissatisfaction, “worst sales this year”. Which lead us to question- what are these people here for then? A little looking around revealed some answers.
- The Food Court: Strange though it may sound for the uninitiated- the food court is the primary attraction of at least half of the visitors to the fair. From biriyani to chaats, it serves all. You just need to snatch a chair, or a place on the railing, and you are good to go.
- The Adda: Yes, that’s still there, though detractors would say otherwise. And that’s why you collect plenty of pamphlets while entering the fair- to be used as protection for your butt, when you sit down on the not so healthy grounds! Add to it some flavoured/ herbal teas, and you are battle ready for the next few hours.
- Sharp Shooters: The guys with the bulging DSLRs in their bags. The fair offers plenty of prospects for some aantel photography- to be shown off in facebook or in blogs like ours.
- Add to Wishlist: That’s what the new breed of tech savvy bookies like me do at the fair these days. Browse through books, compare their prices on Amazon/Flipkart and add them to our ‘wish-list’. To be ordered when we get the money in our wallets, or hefty discounts on the products- or both.
- Portrait: Book fair has gained popularity off late as the place to be, if you want to get yourself etched on canvas. It takes hardly an hour, and some patience to sit still- and you are done!
- And why only books? There are lots of other things on offer too. Hand painted bottles, tee shirts, trinkets, Jute Bags- lots to lure the book-hating-food-hating populace as well!
- And if nothing- just go for the feel of being one in 2 million (that’s the official footfall this year)!
And here is what we managed after four hours at the grounds (other than another blog entry):
(Archya, in his own words, is the trying-to-be-global bangali babu, who is attempting to carve out a niche for himself in blogosphere, having had mixed results in Medicine Practice. In short, a struggling artist.
For his other articles on Blong…Shong, Click Here)