Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Fair Affair ...or Not.

The last time I went To the Kolkata Book Fair I was a school going girl , and the fair was held at Maidan. That was the glorious day I laid my hands on my first Jhumpa Lahiri book ...

After that there was this long gap, I became more and more lazy, a literature course ensured multiple trips to college street so going all the way to a dusty ground just to buy books easily available at any store was not a good idea. That's the brilliant reason i gave myself and stayed at home. The fair was uprooted from Maidan ( a move I support, if Maidan is the lung of Kolkata , makes sense to protect it coz an organ transplant is not likely to be easy in case it dies) . The fair migrated to Salt Lake, I still did not go. This year I did. Today.

Everyday I see the traffic police taking bribes, doing nothing to stop the chaos on the roads ,at times i also feel bad when they have to stand for hours at a stretch in inhuman weather conditions, but that's rare, most of the times I am pretty pissed off with them and ready to curse them, today the traffic police as well as the general police are in my good books and likely to stay there for a few days, hours.....whatever! 

The minute I knew I had to cross the road at science city the petrified hedge-hog within my soul shrieked, every busy morning the science city stop is the mother of chaos. Still I went, and the police were more than helpful , people gathered in groups like school kids and crossed the road with the police ( who i guess knew that people would die in dozens if they had not taken such measures), so one headache gone.

At the fair's entrance there was a lady selling masks...."Swine Flu" popped in my head, but then it was a precaution for dust (yeah like every other place in the city is dust-free).... for a second i thought of buying one to see how i looked in them but then thankfully decided against it.

Now the fair lovers everywhere ...BUT. among the many kinds of people who are the types which irritated the hell out me..... ( sorry for generalizing.....but it's just super fun this way !)

1. Jhola-Kurta--Bankrupt type: They are waaaay too intelligent for anything that is on display on the racks, they might pick up a Saki or Camus only to give their most valuable opinion on it to their friend next to them...... while poor short people (read me) strain their necks to have a look at the racks. They often call someone to ask for a book that is perhaps out of print/ not read/does not exist.These people never NEVER buy what they with great avid interest see and discuss and criticize. To sum up A royal pain in the ......neck.

2. Papa Yeh Lele? type: They suddenly realise they have loads and loads and loads of cash lying around, they have no more outfits to buy this season, so they head straight for the fair with mumma and papa . They lay their hands on every Sheldon, Archer, Twilight thing they can and buy them in dozens while proud mumma's and pappa's think in what pitch they will scream on the phone... "arrre patta hain meri beti ne nah 2000 ke books kharide....bahhhhot interest hain usse books mein ....." ......

3. Long Hair Rockstar Type : They have a guitar. They know howto sing. They sing. In the sun. On the Grass. They wear sunglasses with cheap metal rims and think they are looking oh-so-cool. Don't know why. But they Try. Some of them look like hooligans...the book-fair almost becomes a crook-fair.

4. Boi-Mela Dekhte Eshechi type: This is not the Victoria Memorial. Dyakhar kichhu nei. and young boys who are high on  hormones i repeat "dekhar" shottiii "kichu nei".... even the most gorgeous specimens look tired and haggard after the please go to better  places for bird watching. 

A subcategory of this type exists: The happy family.They wake up at 10, wear benarasi saris and blinding salwars head to boi-mela, grace a few stalls with their presence, eat, laugh, shout, say meaningless things, buy a book when they suddenly remember the fair is about that and head home to ask every person they meet on the way "boi-mela gyachen ebar?". 

Another sub-category is  THE gang (read not less than 10 people) of friends who scream, crack jokes, rush here and there....sigh...if only they would do it  all outside the stalls.

5.Couples:  No... the publishers guild don't charge 50 bucks for a cup of coffee, you can sit and chat for hours, for free,......enough said.

PS: I quite enjoyed the visit , have successfully checked out 1/4 of the total no.of stalls...... thanks to crowds, dust and my limited budget...after all there's nothing more painful than seeing racks of books without a penny in the pocket.

Good Night !


Harish said...

i check out the books in a fair and then try to get them from library.. mostly unsuccessfully.

Deepika said...

There was a time i 'used' to visit every book fair to satisfy my reading hunger. One thing i can say my life relies on is reading.. But now i prefer getting e-books. Its less painful to search on a website then in a crowded place.. Also sometimes e-books are available for free. That makes sense. But still a personal library is still thing i like to maintain :)

chatterbox unplugged said...

@ Harish..... yaah libraries are a nuisance at times, I never get what I am looking for.... but we have a cheaper option in kolkata. but i guess roadside second hand shops are there in other cities as well....

@ Deepika....e books ?? well I downloaded many but i get a royal headache when i try to read it on the i believe there's a romance about a paper and a pen ...:) so e books don't work for me...but you are so never miss out on books that way, many of my friends are also comfortable with e books...just that sadly I am not :)


haha.. good observational post butterfly :)

chatterbox unplugged said...

@ Mayank...Thanks but "Butterfly????"

I cannot take that as a compliment from any angle !!!