I was thinking about this post on January 30th itself, but my Computer surely do had other plans. I'd thought this one to be detailed post but by now I have drained all my juices of literature and will just put out the facts plainly as possibly.
I went to 19th Delhi World Book Fair on the first day itself, ie, January 30th,2010. After a series of yes,no,yes, no at last I was able to make it to the fair on the first day itself, though alone. The Saturday was distressing for me and I do required something good to happened, so even it was 4 PM I decided to keep myself away from experimentation and stick to the basics of book buying, trusted brands, trusted names and back. For the first time in many years I'd kept myself from experimentation. For this I'd reasons, these were, time and money.
I had being going to Book Fair (in Delhi whether National or International) since the year 2001, the year I changed my school and had to travel by bus to reach my new school. Then also, as a student of government school, with trademark violet trousers and white shirt without a tie, I went there alone. Sometimes being looked with suspicion or just as any other ignorance, seldom being treated as a customer unless I picked up a book to purchase. As years passed with uniform giving way to jeans something I found seldom changed. May be I am not smart enough. Anyhow.
For a Bibliophile like me, Book Fair, whether big or small, is like a Kumbh Mela, a must visit for self purification. I enjoy wandering, rather lost, within the books. Though I won't count myself a voracious reader, but still intentionally or unintentionally I end up reading a lot. Many of my friends might call me "pakau" for the "gyan" I usually give out might be result of readings. Coming back to the topic, for last 10 years a lot have changed. Bus has given way to metro, uniform to jeans, and some more cash in pocket. But what has not change, is the venue and organizing.
Though touted as one of the biggest book fairs at least in Asia (my assumption, possibly wrong), organizing still leaves a lot to desire to truly make it something. Creaking hall, littered streets, card board pieces everywhere has become ubiquitous with Pragati Maidan. This time it was even worse, with 3 different fairs being held there at that time, Book fair was tucked away at a different corner, leaving the visitors a lot of ground to cover and a lot of questions to ask to reach there. Though entry was free for school children in uniform accompanied by a teacher during weekdays, I entered there for free, and that too without any security checking. I just flouted a small loophole, entry was free for other two fairs, I entered one of them and then walked onto the Book Fair. I have a reason for this, no body knew where tickets were being sold and officials at the designated gates were asking for it, one of them sent me to a gate only to sent to another gate, then I asked a gentleman about entry and he told me this idea, he'd done the same. And I did. But there holds a lesson for ITPO and NBT, use some brain while scheduling fairs and properly advertise where tickets can be sold. Mere advertising for the event is not enough.
From the Fair I entered it was long walk to the book fair as it was tucked away to another corner. And since I was not thinking about experimentation I decided to stick to my field of books from established names (a decision I don't like to repeat in future but circumstances were such) viz. Law and Fiction. I visited stalls of Lexis Nexis, Universal Law House, Taxmann, Rupa & co (of books not baniyans), Penguin India, Oxford and some others, but these were I spent maximum time (apart from walking around).
Well as I said, organizing was shoddy and many things were still not available to participants and with uneven flooring you just cannot called its international, to my surprise many NBT/ITPO officials were very helpful. They help me located few publishers I was looking for. If NBT/ITPO people are listening there is a lesson for them, while organizing please put things segment wise for example, law at one area, management at another, instead putting them up haphazardly. Though it may not be practically possible every time, but it should be done as far as possible. Secondly enough space must be given to the visitors to actually navigate from one stall to another. And proper maps must be put up at every place at least to give proper directions.
Coming back to the fair itself, since I was alone, I'd little chance of clicking pictures. You can be viewed suspiciously if you are clicking things alone (and if you are in black attire as I was in). Anyhow there I see motley of human emotions, facebook friends meeting for first time in blood and bones, an upcoming writer making a splash with a pretty upcoming reader (read girl) with her mother, dealer complaining lack of service, children asking to many questions, and the hero of the events books and a lot of them. You could easily lost in them.
But I had something in my mind, only few specific things and back and so I did. But I can fairly say the visit, even alone, clearly removed the stress out of the distressing day. I hoped next time I would be able to give more time (usually I visit the fair twice, but this time I am not seeing me doing that) and with better camera (moon was beautiful on Saturday) and hopefully with at least a friend or two to accompany me (condition: mental compatibility about reading otherwise day would become hell with both pulling different strings).
So go on and visit, because it is worth visiting, it is on till February 7th at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, and if you have kids, carry them along, they could have a thousands books to cheer.
Check out my Today's Photo at targetaimshoot.blogspot.com