06 September 2009

Booked

Following a disturbing discussion in German class on how the internet is dulling creativity, critical thinking and reading habits, I marched into the Delhi Book fair at Pragati Maidan with immense vigor. The long walk in the sun till we got to Hall 12A was not as much of a dampener as it could have been, and the sudden gust of cool AC breeze at the entrance only reassured me further. Inside was a gargantuan red-carpeted paradise for book lovers, though with its share of a rather uncouth crowd. I was a little disarmed to see that a huge square space in the middle of the hall was being used as a picnic spot with families sitting cross-legged with tiffins and all. Not that I minded it particularly (there were enough books to make up for it all) but the aroma of pickles pervaded the whole experience. Ah well.

I went with two particular books in mind—a graphic Bible recommended by Babbitty on Friday, and an English translation of the Quran recommended by my German teacher an hour previously. For the rest I intended to be surprised. Imagine my reaction when I found the Qu'ran sitting happily in one of the first stalls I visited—and priced at a meager twenty five rupees! The first purchase was made.

Then followed a long long row of stalls that had nothing at all to do with books (where dad and I did buy a couple of things nonetheless, including the most adorable pink visiting card holder! Not that I have any cards to put in it, but who cares). I also saw a very long line of people crowding a particular counter so I curiously went to see what the fuss was all about. They were trying out a pencil.

Just as I was beginning to be disillusioned by the sudden paucity of books, along came salvation—rows upon rows upon rows of books being sold off at the flat price of a hundred bucks. Obviously this is where I spent most of my time, ending with a stack of books taller than me that I was impatiently ordered to select from. Grim task, that, but I managed it, ending with a German book on India that I might be able to read in a few hundred years, a book on the Stasis that I’m extremely thrilled about, and something resembling a chick-lit read that I suspect will be very useful in days to come.

Along came Penguin. We went, we saw, we did not conquer buy. Off to hall 11 then, we thought, finding no decent place to rest or grab a bite. The graphic Bible sustained me. Munching on my brownie, I decided that I admittedly did not have the energy to roam the hall anymore, and a phone call informed me that I was in the wrong hall anyway. We elbowed our way back to 12A, to Penguin once again, to the table in the center that I had confidently informed dad earlier would have nothing worth buying. It took mere seconds to locate the hallowed book, several dozen minutes to pay and then it was finally over.

Jeez, no wonder I’m tired.

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