Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book (Af) Fair !!

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My tryst with books is probably as old as I am, but in quaint small town Shimla where I grew up in the 80s and 90s there were just two good bookstores and the others were basically stationers calling themselves booksellers.

Whenever my father traveled work to Delhi or bigger cities he would get me books. In those days Russian translated tales and abridged English classics were all I got. The only good library around was a State Library but access to children was limited.

I first saw a proper book fair much later in life in Chandigarh and even then though the first urge used to be to make the best bargain in the limited budget I had as a student, what I loved most was the vision and smell of books.

Ever since I moved to the NCR in 2004 I have attended every edition of the World Book Fair in Delhi, barring one or two. So why do I got to book fairs?

I have started asking myself this question more often now, since I also have a child now who seems to have inherited the same passion.

Surprisingly in this age and time too when there are thousands of books available for easy access in a device like the Amazon Kindle, paper books have still not lost their charm or appeal.

So what drives me to books, specifically book fairs and the most special annual pilgrimage of all the World Book Fair in Delhi?

Well firstly book fairs are not just buying and selling of books but an experience of a fascinating world of languages and cultures via literature and the printed word. I use the word PILGRIMAGE often for them because the reasons remain mostly the same that used to be for spiritual pilgrimages for pilgrims. The tangible presence of so many books- their smell, vision, touch is a succor for my reader soul.

I feel some kind of redemption for all my other economic and worldly vices by spending time, attention and money on books.

One of my favorite tactile activities other than cuddling and kissing loved ones is diving into a pile of old books and smelling them, literally inhaling them,feeling the flavors of several decades on their paper skins and reaching a readerorgasm !

What are your reasons for loving or hating books?

Have you ever fallen in live with book fairs?


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