Photo gallery: Old Delhi book fair is no page turner
The Ramlila Maidan in old Delhi is a reasonably eventful place. That’s what made the National Book Fair stand out; it was practically abandoned. On the second day of the event, there were fewer book stalls, unoccupied slots, and few enough visitors that you could count them on your fingertips. Then there was one organiser bellowing into his mobile phone about a lack of adequate power, and bored stall owners like this man:
Stall owners I spoke to said the show disappointed them in part because there was a lack of publicity. Another said that the location in Old Delhi wasn’t a good idea. But I managed to get shots of visitors:
As I went from stall to stall, I realised the collection on display was dated. Look at the picture below of a stall offering rock-bottom prices for books that are available at the nearest hawker near my house or at the Sunday Daryaganj book market.
Pardon me for sounding biased, but I found the idea of a Delhi cop browsing a book extraordinary. Perhaps the cops had a lot of free time at their disposal because of the thin turnout. Or maybe bookworms don’t fit the criminal profile.
A single food stall offering a Bihari snack – ‘litti chokha’ – delicious, but not enough to attract the crowds.
A Hindustani classical recital by Pandit Channulal Mishra, though two hours behind schedule, livened up the sombre event. As Mishra invoked the gods at the start of his performance, I heard the muezzin’s voice from the mosque next door. A literary day turned into a musical evening.