I don't always bunk my college but this time I did, not that I wanted to hang-out with my friends in a luxury shopping mall or go for a random movie in a nearby theater. My purpose was different, the 37th Kolkata book fair was being held on the Milan Mela Grounds near Science City on E.M.Bypass and I couldn't miss my chance to visit it.
Though I haven't read any quality books other than The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, books always fascinated me. My friends always used to find me either in Crossword or at Starmark fiddling with books if at all we hanged out at City Centre or South City Mall, in the other sense books attracted me. Being the first year of my stay in Kolkata, how could I miss Asia's largest book fair?? I didn't and straight away bunked my college.
My bus stopped at a distance, it won't go any further, the crowd was such that the driver couldn't move his vehicle an inch and I had to get down 500Mts approx. away from the main spot. There was a barricade of bamboos directing the way to the book fair and on the left side were many vendors displaying some old second hand novels and many Bengali books, I didn't knew Bengali. The display continued till I stopped at the main entrance where there was a security check, it had to be, terrorist targeted crowded areas and this happened to be the highly attended book fair where the last years count went to 1.7 million people.
After clearing all the security checks, they checked my bag which was usually had my course books and Revolution 20-20, I made my way into the Book Fair. The view inside was breath-taking. People were moving inside like a swarm of bees, books were the honey of course. There were many ways leading to various stalls of which I picked one which lead me to a strange era, year an era I would call it. The arrangements there didn't look Indian, exploring inside I found a vast collection of Bengali books, brand new at the same time of different length, breadth and width. I looked around and found out that they were Bangladeshi Books. Few moments later I discovered that the Focal theme of this year's Kolkata Book Fair was BANGLADESH, all the books written by the Bangladeshi authors and books displaying their culture, heritage and history were available there. Shuffling, gazing and staring were one of many thing I did there with the unknown-to-me script of those Bangladeshi books.
Moving with the crowd, out of the Bangladeshi theme, I came across the stalls which had books by particular publishers like Tata McGraw Hill, Pan McMillan, Oxford, Penguin and many others of which I made my way into each and every stall keenly observing the neatly arranged books out in the display. The view inside was no less compared to a picturesque landscape, it was a panorama. The smell of those new books was intoxicating like they asked me to come explore them and live them. I was in a whole new sphere of knowledge, books all around me. I still have a vivid memory of the display, like it happened yesterday.
Not all stalls had books in them, there were stalls which promoted several brands like Pailan group which organised a competition to quote a tagline for their company. There were stalls displaying several hand made artifacts, some had gifts while other had both fast and street foods. I was an observer silently exploring the globe with naked eyes. After some two hours of time and a few km walk round the stalls, the Milan Mela Ground is a huge area, I came across a place where I saw three things, food food and food, branded food they were. The famous Ali-Baba biryani, french fries by McCain and much more. I didn't had a penny, only my eyes feasted on them, they got lucky.
A huge book fair taking place in a metro city without media's attraction, not possible. ABP Ananda, Telegraph, Hindustan Times and some other news papers and channels were covering the ongoing happenings in the Book Fair. On my way back, to the exit, I was shrugged by a gorgeous lady in yellow and behind him was a camera man holding his huge video camera trying to capture me with her. She then asked “May I ask you a few questions??” and I readily accepted. Her questions included, what I did, how was my experience here, and last but not the least did I buy any book to which I said “I wish I had enough to buy the whole but presently I don't have enough to buy one.” and walked away slowly out of the Book Fair.
Raviraj Ramavarapu was born and brought up in a small town of Jharkhand called Sahibganj. He is presently aa 1st year English Honours student studying under University of Calcutta and resides in Kolkata.He loves playing volleyball and listen to his favourite bands Linkin Park and Backstreet Boys. He loves to play xbox games, Assassins Creed series being his favourite. Reading novels and writing poems also adds up to his interest lists.