“You are never too old, too wacky, too wild
to pick up a book and read to a child!”
This quote by Dr. Seuss, one of the world’s most favorite authors, definitely lights up my day. Or, as Walt Disney said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and best of all you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”
For every bibliophile in Delhi, the New Delhi World Book Fair is a five-star experience that comes as a fruitful perk of living in the capital. The NDWBF is being held for the past 40 years, organized by the National Book Trust, India. It is co-organized by the India Trade Promotion Organization. A good fraction of the publishing houses from the literary world participate in the event.
The theme selected for this year was Indigenous Voices – Mapping India’s Folk and Tribal Literature. The focus was on the lesser known heritage of the country; the indigenous, the unexplored. The guest country was France. Visitors could meet famous French authors, indulge in delicious French cuisines and watch screenings of French films. It was an exhibit with élan, truly. With 2,400 stalls and 1,119 participants, including those from 15 foreign countries, visitors could satisfy their own individual tastes in different halls, browse through any and every kind of category you can imagine, look up authors from all walks of life and in a large number of regional languages and shop for eBooks also. The children and youth pavilions were especially very appealing and well-equipped for their target audience.
A major attraction was also the Haute Book Art display in hall 7E – beautifully designed and thoughtfully imagined. The Eiffel Tower, The Light of Life, and The Imaginative School Bag, were also exceptionally commendable. So was the fact that a conscious effort had been made to attract the youth and children’s attention to the printed word. A vast variety of books, stalls, activities and media signified that the children of India (or Delhi, at least) do read. A refreshing thought, surely.
The handloom and silk exhibited were also held at the same venue. The stalls were pleasant, the products valuable, if expensive, and the aura was a pleasant reminder of the beautiful effort made by the thousands of unsung heroes who work hard to give every clothe the correct embroidery, every effect the right shade, every thread in place, every design just right. The handloom and silk exhibits were definitely a major plus.
Theoretically the book fair was supposed to be a pleasant event. If you visited the exhibits, though, you might agree that the experience was slightly marred by a few glitches.
Being open to the general public for six days only, meant one weekendonly. Chances are, you visited the fair on the Saturday or Sunday too, which means you would understand what I mean when I say the fair was packed. And do I really need to mention the phrase ‘parking woes’? I thank the brains and the hearts behind the Delhi Metro for the umpteenth time. I know that with foreign exhibitors and the huge amount of expenditure and all the technicalities involved, six days is a reasonable (and perhaps maximally affordable) time for a World Book Fair, but as a young visitor recently confided in me, “I went on the weekend, and I’m sure everyone else did, too. They were all there the day I went.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally happy to realize that the ‘diminishing interests of people towards books’ is just a myth.
I would have been grateful, though;
1 …if the cafeteria had not been so cramped.
2 … if the men standing behind the stalls had time to actually listen to what we wanted to buy instead of simply thrusting out a Coke at our hands and repeating “5 rupye khulle” over and over.
3…if I’d been giventhe opportunity to choose which ice-cream I wanted to eat without getting my feet trampled by a restless queue.
4…and lastly, if the queue at the NBT cash counter had been moving faster.
I’m glad, however, that my parents got a great opportunity to browse books in their beloved Urdu language. Books in regional languages and categories from Arts to Zoology could be found aplenty which is appreciable. I believe everyone can be motivated to read if he finds the right book for himself. Rapid modernization, globalization, urbanization (whatever you want to call it) cannot change the traditionally established fact: books are our best friends. And what better way to start this faithful friendship than to visit a fair of good reads, surely.
For, quoting an Urdu proverb, knowledge is such a sea that the deeper you explore, the more glorious pearls you discover.
[this is a guest post by Sana Fatma. A BHMS student, staying in delhi, and like the characters in her writings, she too tries to find happiness in the simpler things in life.]
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