Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chennai Book Fair - More time, the next time !

In the last 6 years since I returned to India (yes! It is almost 6 years since I R2Id :)), I have seen advertisements/promotions for the Chennai Book Fair, every year. In fact, I have crossed the book
fair venue several times in the past (when the book fair was happening) and I never got a chance to make a visit. 2015 broke the spell ... Thanks to my close friend who visited me on January 10th, 2015.

We were talking about work, family etc., and literally ran out of some productive topics to discuss. We had two easy options at hand... watch television or take a quick nap. The thought of Chennai Book Fair suddenly came to my mind and I bounced it with my friend. He also got excited with the idea. We immediately jumped into my car and traversed our way to YMCA, Nandanam. They had good parking facilities there. The whole place was in "festive" mood - there were sellers of toys for kids, a number of eateries and picnic areas (actually, our people made open space into picnic areas). The entire YMCA ground was filled with people like bees in a hive. There were literary discussions/debates happening in another side of the ground. Chennai Book Fair was much more than just a "Book Fair" for a nominal entry fee of Rs.10.

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We got the tickets and entered the place where the books were displayed for public to purchase. I was taken by surprise when I entered the large venue. There were several 100s of book sellers and several 1000s of books in each shop. I got reminded of the popular phrase from our Tamil literary "Kattradhu Kai Mannalavu... Kallaadhadhu Ulagaluvu" (meaning "What you've learned is as small as the sand in your palm, what you've not learned is as big as the world"). I went to the first book stall and spent some time glancing at the books in the stall. I was amazed by the number of Tamil books at display - covering all the subjects under the earth. I bought some books written by Dr. Irai Anbu from the stall and we moved to the 2nd stall. By the time we covered 15 stalls, we had already spent 2 hours and bought nearly 5 books each. My friend had a return flight in the night and we had to leave the venue soon.

I realized that 2 hours isn't just enough for you to cover the entire book fair. You can easily spend 1 full day at the Chennai Book Fair. I didn't take my wife and daughter to the book fair, this time. I decided that I should take them also along, next time and spend at least 5 hours at the Book Fair. While I was thinking that the number of hours people spend on reading books have diminished, Chennai Book Fair challenged my thinking. I read from the newspapers that Chennai Book Fair had record collections, this year. I learned that on an average, a seller makes 20% of his yearly sale at the Chennai Book Fair. Happy to see that our Chennaiites are continuing to buy and read books. This is definitely a trend to welcome. Happy reading... folks !

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