Sunday, January 31, 2010

Darkness descends

It was a pleasant evening--neither too hot nor too cold.Lots of people had gathered together for an evening full of fun with their family, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and others....I was present among them with my parents. I was walking with my father scanning the treasures lined along the wall and attempting to pick one of them up when, all of a sudden, the lights went off! Groans and sighs could be heard all around...The Kolkata Book Fair 2010 had once again plunged into darkness...

I am telling the story of yesterday evening when I visited the fair with my parents. We were inside the Rupa and Co. book stall when this unfortunate incident took place. We had read in the papers about the power-cuts at this year's book fair but hadn't expected them to continue even on the fourth day of the fair. It was just horrible and over the next two hours, the authorities couldn't do anything about it. When we had entered the fair, it had been crowded with lakhs of people. But, the crowds started dwindling in the absence of electricity. It was weird to see a book fair without crowds ...

After a while,it wasn't too bad actually. We could go through the books more easily as we weren't jostled by people anymore. A bit of light from the paths outside the stalls prevented them from going pitch black. Aided by that light and the light from our cellphones, we didn't have much problem in seeing the books. We even bought books by the light of the cellphone and there were many others like us! I bought 'Roots' by Alex Haley, 'Letters from a father to his daughter' by Jawaharlal Nehru and 'Great Stories By Nobel Prize Winners.' My father bought 'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri and '101 stories' by Satyajit Ray, while my mother bought 'Jiboner Jal Chhobi'( 'Life's Water-colour') by Pratibha Basu.

But, this doesn't mean that people will be happy to use their cellphones every year. The whole incident was very shameful. Most of the stalls were fully empty and the salesmen were sitting disappointed. The food stalls were the ones making real profits and somehow, in most of the food stalls ,there was no power cut! We also couldn't go around the whole fair. The darkness just ruined our mood. We ended up roaming around a particular lot of stalls, but what more could we expect? I just hope everything returns to normal next year. Its disheartening to see my city losing one of its greatest possessions.


Woodsmoke said...

At least you got a good number of books although I am disappointed you were traipsing through Rupa and Co. After working with them for a whole year, I cannot stop shuddering even now when I think of the horrible work conditions, the exploitative management, and their belief that employees must actually be like little, mute slaves of the employer.
I hope the Book Fair next year is more successful than it was this time.

newsgroups said...

What a bad luck! Good that there weren’t any accidents. I don’t think the book fair will disappear because of this. It might be exchanged by a better organized one, but every-one knows that there are interesting people willing to buy. So it seems to me that sellers keep on coming.
I would say: try to see it light: book-fair-by-candle-light. How does that sound? Maybe a new tradition?

Butterfly said...

Next year onwards,I'll not go to Rupa's stall.:-)

People are crazy about the book fair. So, its not that they or the sellers will stop coming.
I don't suppose though that candlelight is a good idea...It doesn't seem that candlelight will make the fair successful, what with so many people visiting it. I mean, I don't suppose it'll be peaceful...