Once upon a time, there was a book festival that grew more rousing and fun every year, and would bring together authors, exhibitors and book lovers from nearly everywhere!
Well, you know what I am writing about, don’t you? My wife, one-year-old son, myself and my Mother-in-law had an excellent weekend. We all had been to the Book fair which started on Nov.10 (it’s on till the 19th at the Palace Grounds here). My son was really happy to see so many books, people and ample space for him to walk around. He added quite a few books (those thick-paged ones which are shaped like a cute puppy, fish and so on). I got a couple of real treasures, apart from other books. One is titled GANDHI, which has some never-seen-before photographs. And the other is a book on DV Gundappa, brought out during his birth centenary. Great catch, I felt! My wife and M-I-L also made some good purchases.
A friendly advice to all book-lovers to start with: you better have a good breakfast before you head for the book fest. It takes some energy to walk in and out of nearly 300 bookstalls with close to 10 lakh books on display. All of us were drained out at the end of the day. Although we wanted to stay for a few more hours (we went at 11 in the morning and came home at 6 pm), our legs were really paining. But if you have the staying powers and the rare knack of zeroing in on what you want despite distractions, you are sure to stumble upon some rare gems here. The fest holds a massive collection of books of various publications from India and overseas.
The festival has been organized by Bangalore Booksellers and Publishers Association. (BBPA started the annual book fair in 2003, to inculcate book reading habit among the youth and provide a forum for various publications across the country to promote their books). You can visit the fair between 11 a.m and 8 p.m. everyday. Tickets are Rs.20/- per head.
You will, of course, have to do far less wading through if you are interested in children’s books or books on self-help, computers, management, spirituality and so on. There are books in these categories as far as eyes can see and these are the books that top the sales charts.
A big draw at the fair are language books, especially Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. You will find established Kannada publishers such as Manohara Granthamala and Nava Karnataka besides more recent ones such as Abhinava, Sanchaya and C.V.G. Publications which have been bringing out some exciting books. The Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara has several tables and there are some rare ones here such as ‘Dheemantha’, a collection of beautiful articles, brought out during DVG’s birth centenary.
In fact, the entire fair is an interesting space that brings together (though not by conscious design) various ideological streams under one roof. There are stalls by Rashtrotthana Parishat, Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mutt, Iskcon and some Christian institutions even as there is a stall by Shanthi Prakashana (which specialises in books on Islam).
Some of the reputed publishers such as Oxford University Press, Macmillan and Cambridge University have also put up their stalls. I loved Murthy’s Select Bookshop stall, The Hindu stall, IBH and NBT stalls, to name a few. At the stall on Stammering Cure, I saw many youngsters buying the book on how to face interviews. The good news for bookworms is that most stalls offer a discount.
The Bangalore Book Fair has added a very regional touch by hosting a good many number of stalls selling regional language books, fiction and non-fiction. There are at least half a dozen stalls selling Tamil books, a few of Malayalam, Telugu, Sanskrit and many Kannada book stalls. The regional language books give a good variety this time.
There were many stalls selling CD-ROMS and video CDs for kids which had popular rhymes and stories in an animated form. But I feel reading books is better for kids from an early age because when children become good readers in the early years, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond. Also, reading books helps kids improve their imagination power.
My son really enjoyed being at the book fest. He handled many books and it was a sight to see him walk from one stall to another. At The Hindu stall, a guy jokingly asked him, “Which paper do you read” and was flabbergasted to hear “Hindu” from my son. At another stall, an old man held a book and asked my son, “What is this, kid?” and when my son told “Book’, the old chap felt happy that my son atleast knew what it was.
During late afternoon, we had lunch at the food stalls. There was a Dr.Rajkumar Rangamandira (Stage) which was set up adjacent to the food stalls. There were many kids dancing to the tunes of popular patriotic and folk songs. We enjoyed seeing the enthusiastic kids dance. I went to the organiser and asked him if I could sing a song in memory of Dr. Rajkumar. He agreed and handed over the mike after making a short announcement. I sang Elladaru Iru Enthadaru Iru (written by Kuvempu). It was my tribute to Annavru during Suvarna Karnataka celebrations.
After lunch, we resumed our ‘Find-and-Search’ activity, browsing and seeing through the rest of the stalls. By late evening, my son was feeling sleepy. And we were also physically tired. At the end of the day, when we finally went home, we had hands full of books, eyes full of wonder, and a mind full of ideas! And I am sure all those at the book fest fell in love with the written word in their own special ways!