Book Fair debate
| A TALK TO REMEMBER: I attended the (Kolkata Literary Meet) session with Jhumpa Lahiri and it was an enriching and enlightening experience. The moderator’s role merits special mention. Rudrangshu Mukherjee kept the questions crisp and short, thereby allowing Jhumpa ample time to answer thoughtfully; it was so unlike some other sessions where moderators in their enthusiasm took away time from the speakers! For her part, Jhumpa spoke from her heart, carefully choosing her responses but never was her reply evasively short or curt. All in all a wonderful session.
I go to the Book Fair for the books of course (Why do you or don’t visit the Book Fair? February 11). I cannot imagine any other place with so many books spread over acres. For a book lover, that in itself is a source of great joy. Bookstores and online portals are convenient options but walking into various stalls at the Book Fair, browsing through the shelves, buying books and above all the smell of books all around is a unique experience altogether. As for the distance and conveyance, I am a resident of Behala and going home from Milan Mela is indeed a bit of a problem. But that doesn’t deter the bibiliophile spirit in me from visiting the Book Fair each and every year.
I have been a regular at the Book Fair since 1988 and always visit stalls and buy books. Our city is the city of book lovers. Those who visit the fair for food do not realise the value of books.
Faculty member, Scottish Church College
There is a difference between quantity and quality. I went to the fair to browse books but all around me I found rubbish and stench, left behind by visitors intent on food and fun. My first stop was theme pavilion, where I was behind 30 people. My next stop (the Ramakrishna Mission stall) was, however, empty. My third and final stop was the Rupa stall where I picked up 15 books, mostly on management and leadership.
I have been in Calcutta for three years and visited the Book Fair in its last two editions.The only reason I pulled out this time is because of the shift of the Kolkata Literary Meet.That was indeed a special feature.
BCom, final year, Goenka College of Commerce
I do not go to the Book Fair for the dust.
Book Fair is, and always will be, a carnival. Indeed, I have been habituated with this ambience since my adolescence. What is the harm if a million people throng the fair instead of a mall or a park to spend an afternoon? Anyway, the stalls at the fair are too crowded to browse with ease. Also, it is not always possible to buy many books at a time. So, I often visit the stalls and jot down the names of books, which I buy from College Street throughout the year.
I have stopped visiting the Book Fair, primarily because parking is a tremendous problem. The Book Fair has become an “eating joint” and a place for audition for radio jockies.
College Street may always be there but the annual festival of books will always be special. Being a bookworm, I have been visiting the boi mela since my childhood and this year has been no exception. Apart from buying books, I also rocked the book fair, singing some classic numbers of Hemanta and Pancham. The primary attraction of visiting the Book Fair is always books, books and books!! But,when you get tired, you will need a bite and some refreshment and I see no harm in that.
Footfall has increased at the Book Fair but at the cost of genuine book lovers.The ambience and sanctity of the Book Fair can be improved only by introducing an entry fee, keeping food stalls away and barring entertainment.
Prasanta Kumar Karmakar,
Being a bookworm it fills me with a sense of delight to visit the Book Fair every year. But I agree that this year people seemed more inclined towards food than books.
I visit the Book Fair to see the rush of book lovers. But nowadays few seem to read.
If the Book Fair ground has turned into a place for food and fun, who is to blame for that? The people? I would like to ask the organisers why they have arranged for food stalls and TV and live musical programmes at a book fair? Do those have any role to play at a book fair, apart from entertaining and drawing crowds? The focus has shifted away from books because the organisers have provided many distractions and diversions for people. It is like telling a student to sit and study while browsing TV channels and switching on the music system in the same room. A serious student would prefer to stay away from that room. If the organisers wish to make the Book Fair, apart from a place for book sales, an enjoyable hangout, and the food stalls and musical performances to be more crowd-pullers, isn’t their wish fulfilled? Then why blame and make fun of the crowd “gorging” on food, and leaving the Book Fair with food packets instead of books?
Jayanti Ghosh Dastidar,
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