Five types of people, in case you were wondering. While I may lament the denigration of society in Delhi, the city still has loads of readers. A good number of them showed up in Pragati Maidan on Sunday. The National Book Fair, an annual event where the bigwigs of the book publishing world set up stalls, is on till August 31.
The Persuasive Dealer: “Pick any for Rs 100! Harry Potter, Dan Brown, 50 Shades of Grey, Mills & Boons…Errm, that’s just one yellow page Madam…” Wait longer and the fungus-eaten page may crumble even as you look. But, to be fair, this is quite the loot if you are looking for a cheap truckful of bestsellers, classics and children’s books. It’s just that I associate book fairs with rare, special books we can’t buy on Flipkart or off the street.
The New Writer: “I have written that book, in case you are interested.” It isn’t always I meet an author and listen to a first-hand synopsis of her book. Quite interesting it can be to browse through fresh writing on subjects as diverse as religion, motivation and suspense to good old romance. You will need to be a good selector, of course.
The Ambitious Parent: “The next door kid can play the piano!” “Hush, I heard she is secretly preparing for the civil services.” Last time I heard, the kid was in Grade 3. While over ambition is another story, I was impressed by the hordes of parents stocking up on children’s books – stories, hobbies, learning software. If you are looking for those, you won’t be disappointed. I was especially thrilled to see lots of young kids, some accompanied by grandparents. Little eyes that lit up at the sight of big, colourful titles.
The Book Lover: First the bad news – the stalls are fewer than I have known them to be in previous years. You may also dislike the picnicking crowd that has made a cafeteria out of the carpet, despite the fact that the Pragati Maidan Food Court is well stocked, reasonably priced and right across from the exhibition. This aside, the fair is a good place to get books to your heart’s content – the genres are plenty; there are good discount deals. The air-conditioned halls and books everywhere you look is a welcome respite from the grime and heat of Delhi in its current state. While you’re at it, you can also check out the stationery collection up at one of the halls. The “Literature in Cinema” theme is a bit of a setback – other than a poster display area and a few stalls selling books on Bollywood, I didn’t find too much of this.
The Strollers: Notwithstanding the size of the city, couples in Delhi often run short of dating ideas. Some of these decide to give the fair a try. Slowly they walk hand in hand, whispering sweet nothings in the face of the crowd accumulating behind them. The fair could be a series of vacant rooms for all they care. Of course, the foodies landed up as well, gorging on the burgers and sandwiches, smelling up the place faster than the AC could neutralize things.
I am hoping you will tell me about the people you meet when you go book-shopping at the fair. Remember to be wary of Wrackspurts.