If you are a booklover and in Delhi in the month of September, don’t forget to visit the Delhi Book Fair held every year at Pragati Maidan. This is also a Stationery Fair, so not only publishers and booksellers have their wares laid out in the stalls of the exhibition ground, there are several suppliers and manufactures of stationery products also on the same floor vying for attention of the visitors.
How to Go:
Well, the best way, for me, is of course taking the Metro Rail run by DMRC. Because of its huge network, it’s easily accessible from many parts of the city, and Pragati Maidan is a metro station as well, which is located just next to the exhibition ground. You can always take your car, but parking in most places in Delhi is a huge headache. But if you still feel like taking the car, I have a better route to offer, which is how I reached the book fair. Take your car to Connaught Place, and park in the DLF Multi Level Carpark on the Baba Kharag Singh Marg. This is a brand new swanky car park, bang in the middle of the city, and for the initial days, parking here is free!! Since this year’s fair is over today, and most likely you will be making an attempt to visit it next year, I am guessing you have to pay tour parking charges though. If you are parked there, then all you have to do is take an auto rickshaw to Pragati Vihar form the car park, which is quite close by.
What to buy:
Well, books of course. But other than that, you can also buy magazines, various kinds of stationeries, memory storage devices, and this year there was a welcome addition of eBooks. And yes, each exhibition hall also has a cafe, where you can grab a bite and take that welcome break between the long walk you are sure to take, if you are as keen a booklover as I am.
What did I buy? Well, as a Bengali, I was mesmerised by the Vishwabharati stall selling Rabindranath Tagore’s books in both English and Bengali, so I picked up the last piece of Tagore’s Gitanjali, the collection of poems that had won him a Nobel Prize for Literature, way back in 1019. That has been the highlight of my purchase in this year’s event.
The Book Fair:
I love the book fairs. May be because I am originally from Kolkata, and in Kolkata, we have a tradition of visiting the annual Kolkata Book Fair every year, for more than once. I am very nostalgic about the walks I had between the stalls of the booksellers, and the narrow shelves of each stall stacking hordes of both old and new books. When I am in a book fair, it’s my temple of worship, I can walk miles without a thought for my shoe pinching me, or I have to elbow my way into my favourite stalls to browse through the books. Touching the books; being oblivious to people around you and opening a book to read the introduction; managing to brace yourself against the jostle of the surrounding crowds and still feel the calmness, which otherwise only a prayer can give; and feeling as if you have conquered the high mountains when you finally manage to make a purchase; yes, I love each and every step of this journey.
This Year’s Special:
This year I took my 11 year old daughter to the fair, and it gave me such pleasure when she too found that joy which I do at these places. She went almost berserk, looking at books, touching them, cribbing to me because she is thinking I am not buying her enough books! There is nothing so beautiful than seeing the interest in books in your child. So I just let her buy almost anything she put her hands into. Oh yes, she bought a couple of graphic books from campfire, adding to her earlier collection. Campfire is doing a great job of making graphic books out of biographies, and literary works. It is a good way to introduce my child to a new world. Yes, this year’s fair was indeed special.
So if you have missed it this year, do visit next year to let the booklover in you do a tango.