Travel is a luxury many of us may not be able to afford at all times, but a book is a treasure that can avail us that luxury at any given point of time. The Calcutta Book Fair initially held at Park Circus Maidan, and now hosted on the Milan Mela grounds opposite Science City on EM Bypass, is a paradise for all those book lovers who travel miles and years into time through their pages. I personally love book fairs more than any other because evading the charm of books is something I am far from mastering even now.
The Calcutta Book Fair takes place on a grand scale annually during the winter months of January or February. The fair is not just a golden opportunity for prints and publishers to hike their sales and for writers to launch their works, but also for amateurs in the field of writing, painting, sculpturing and the likes to hold their prowess up for display. Over a hundred publishing houses and prints, renowned and local, put up stalls at the Book Fair which takes place for over a week or so.
Now one may ask that in the age of e-books and digitization, online delivery via Amazon and Flipkart, when the entire experience of book purchase has gone through a sea change, how does the idea of a mammoth book fair like this not become redundant. Well, for a book lover like me, the experience of going through books from across the world and choosing them with my own hands braving a million others just like me gives an unfathomable high, something that the internet can never provide. It’s equivalent to watching (or maybe touching) my favourite movie star in person than watching him on the screen. The Calcutta Book Fair truly captures the pulse of the city as the footfall has probably doubled in the last ten years, defying the rules of modern age technological revolution.
One of the most interesting things about the Calcutta Book Fair is its consistency in surprising its loyal followers by introducing them to a strand of the literature and culture of a new nation every year. What is popularly known as the “Theme country” every year at the fair, the chosen country is the centre of attraction in the book fair with a chain of stalls dedicated to its literature, music and heritage.
If you’re looking for an uncommon Japanese book unavailable anywhere even on the internet, you might just want to visit the Calcutta Book Fair, it’s totally worth it. The magnanimous nature of this fair may not allow you to scout all the book shops you want to on a single day, since maneuvering your way through all the bustle and managing to find that one stall you’re looking for is indeed a task. Hence at least two or three trips to this extravaganza is recommended to not just the first timers, but also the veterans. Not to forget the attractive discounts and rebates offered by most publishers, the book fair is the ultimate destination on a winter afternoon in Calcutta.
Cost breakup – variable. Or should I say, priceless!
Contributed by Arshia Dhar
A Priceless (Af)fair