There were people all around. The headcount was adding more and more to the footfalls as the evening was getting even more luminous with every nook and corner bathed in the decorated light.
I was mapping the roads crisscrossing the halls and the aisles crisscrossing the stalls and pavilions. I was enjoying every moment of my company while walking along the flow of knowledge.
Yes, flow of knowledge, as I was able to locate some significant works I can say I had been looking for. It was all being done at a leisurely pace, sitting with the collectibles, exploring more of them, and finally taking a decision enriching me and my personal collection.
Yes, I was in the World Book Fair of Delhi. It was the penultimate day of the Pragati Maidan book fest when I decided that I needed to be there. For some years, this one has been a regular and, this year, too, I was thinking to visit it since it began but, somehow, it wasn’t being worked out. Online availability of the world’s best written works with good discounts and quick delivery on offer was, I can say, one major factor behind it.
But what was pulling me was the rustic charm of feeling the books while sitting in the camaraderie of the countless of them.
I began with the hall having all the major publishers of the Hindi language. Now I can say my reading of the Hindi literature has been very infrequent. I have read Premchand but I want to read more.
I had thought to begin with the best works of satire. I was looking for ‘Raag Darbari’ and Harishankar Parsai and Sharad Joshi’s books. I had tried to locate ‘Raag Darbari’ but couldn’t reach to the shops in Delhi selling it. I found it in the book fair. Luckily, I found the whole satire collection of Harishankar Parsai and Sharad Joshi in the ‘Bhartiya Gyanpeeth’ pavilion, but equally unluckily, I could not buy as I was short of cash and the pavilion had no facility to accept the payment done through cards.
After that hall, my whole afternoon and the evening was spent in the halls numbered one to six, with mostly English language publishers from India and abroad. They had all the major publishers like Penguin, Roli Books, Sage, Oxford, Cambridge, Hachette, Harper Collins, Harvard Business Review Press, Random House, etc., with every category of literary work.
Big stalls, small stalls, aesthetically carved pavilions, thematically lit angles with books and books all around – so good a sight to have it was.
It was so engrossing, away from the negative reporting of this edition of the book fair and thankfully, equally confusing, for it was so full of worthy options that picking some out of the cosmos was going to be a time-taking, and so an interesting exercise. When I emerged out to this world again after some engaging hours, my collection was already richer by almost 15 books, from Claudine Le Tourneur d'lson's 'Hira Mandi' to the translated works of Saadat Hasan Manto; from Diana L. Eck's 'Banaras, City of Light' to the Sage's anthology on intercultural communication.
One special mention here about the Sage Publications pavilion. Sage is probably the most serious global publisher of the communication and media books and I found four of my interest there and that, too, at 40 per cent discount. Now I don’t remember some major publisher like Sage giving this much of flat discount on every title. Cheers.
The World Book Fair - it was good to be there. J