Tuesday, 15 January 2013

It's raining books here...

Dr. Ganesh, browsing through the CUP Collection on display at the Chennai Book Fair

The 36th Chennai Book Fair got off to a grand start on 11 January 2013 at the YMCA Physical Education College Grounds, and the Fair was formally inaugurated by the School Education Minister. This year saw a shift in venue from St. George’s School grounds, (as the traffic police had refused permission here owing to Metro Rail work), and the first day saw teething problems as regards parking and other basic amenities. Security men were in a tizzy frantically trying to control the crowd that went berserk towards evening owing to poor traffic management and the apathy of the security wards.

The sprawling campus was being spruced up on day ONE, and to facilitate effective business, RBI had erected a stall for people to get 5 Re/10 Re coins in bulk quantity, apart from sensitising people about identifying fake currency. This year saw an increase of more than a hundred stalls, which speaks to the burgeoning bibliophile base in Chennai, the education capital of India. A majority of the stalls catered to the Tamil audience followed closely by English, which could boast of 127 stalls. Tamil celebrity stalls include ones by Ananda Vikatan (which saw a remarkable influx of avid readers), Osho, JK, etc. English stalls displayed great variety, and Cambridge University Press attracted the maximum visitors. British Council gave away membership with attractive offers, and it was a runaway success for them. OUP books, Orient Blackswan, JAICO etc were some of the other publishers who had a good number of customers flocking by the dozen.
Although private stalls were alluring and conducive to visitors, the stalls put up by the government (I don’t want to name them here) had a typical apathetic air around them. Books were soiled beyond redemption, and the benchmark for assessing them was by the bandicoot droppings which faithfully adorned each of the ‘ancient’ books on display. It’s time the government had a relook at their agenda before putting up such ‘bandicoot dropping’ book stalls on display for the public.

This year, Literature students have a lot to smile about!

Jingle all the way to the book fair and grab your pick before it’s too late!

As the saying goes, “A book too can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness”!

And, yes it was indeed a pleasant surprise to see people of all ages from six to sixty walking in to grab their pick of the day. Some school children were seen immersed in a pile of books, not mindful of listening to the call of their parents to move on..! 

Indeed, to conclude in the words of Virginia Woolf, “When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading”.

Even so be it!

No comments:

Post a Comment