Sunday, January 30, 2011

Calcutta Book Fair – more than just books, Day 2

The Calcutta Book Fair has always been more than just books. It is an experience hard to express in words. There is a certain something quintessential about Calcutta Book Fair that tugs at my heart and sucks me in. I always end up making nothing less than half a dozen visits every year, promising not to return until next year. Why you ask ? This time to steal words from the magnum opus – Godfather, where Sollozzo says “I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman; blood is a big expense.”. To which I would say “I like books Tom, but they are a big expense !” :)

The fair bring under it’s ambit not just books, but other art forms as well. There are artists, craftsmen, handicrafts, women folks selling and showcasing their appliqué embroidery skills and philatelists to just name a few !

The  portrait artist was momentarily away from his desk (er chair!)270120111256



The artist in the picture is a young man named Dilip Paswan, who now has been coming to the Book Fair for the last 15 years. He now works in the state of Tripura, but comes down to Calcutta every year during the fair. Such are old habits, that never die !

270120111261 This ‘Calcutta’ painting is now one of my prized possessions.

270120111262 Here is a portrait artist in the picture above, who claimed that he chooses who he wishes to portrait or not. Do you hear it ain’t about the money, not always at least. He chooses his customers, not vice-versa. I did not risk asking him for my portrait ! Do the crowd around him, reminds you of Calcutta of yore ?

270120111266 Guess what is everybody in this picture clicking away at?

270120111296 Here is the apple of everyone’s eyes. People just couldn’t get enough of it !

Refreshments anyone ?270120111257

270120111279 270120111283 Handicrafts – jute bags !

270120111285 Applique Embroidery

270120111267 The main walkway at the Boi-Mela

270120111272 Deys Publishing Pavilion !

270120111274 East meets West!


Rest area / Lovers boulevard at fountain of love !


In honor of কবি গুরু !



Above, the lone আনন্দ মার্গী (Ananda Margi) who has meandered away from his booth


Poor man’s Disneyland !


Finally above is the booth for the CPM mouth-piece !

I hope to have rekindled a child like joy of visiting Calcutta Book Fair on your next trip eastward ! If you think I have struck a chord, here is presenting a song that will remind you of your home, your friends, your old flame, and finally your city. Salud !



  1. Thanks so much for the the great write up and the wonderful pictures, Vineet! You certainly have tugged at my heartstrings.... wish I could say "I'm leaving, on a jet plane.." right away to go visit the fair. I loved visiting it when I lived in Cal, when the maidan used to be the venue, and stalls were limited to books and food. Looks like it's manifested itself into a mega event now, though, just like everything else! When we were in Cal last I was astonished to see how big Kali Puja had become (not having been in Cal during the pujas in some 15 odd years), with pandals, lights, music and the works. I remembered it as mostly a puja celebrated in the confines of one's home or in temples. More the merrier, I guess.

  2. Rita, thank you for your kind words.I am glad to have rekindled some emotions in you. Feels like a job well done :). Boi-mela has manifested quite certainly. However, I am glad that we let Maidan be. For the love of it, it certainly is for greater good. Maidan truly are the lungs of the city, which we trample with disdain !

    You are right, by the same token Kali puja has magnified quite a bit.

    Irrelevant may be but sadly though so has the underbelly of the city. Reminds me of Travis Brickle's words from the Martin Scorsese classic "Taxidriver" - All the animals come out at night - whores, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets" !

  3. Yep, Kol Book fair is always refreshing - no matter what ... Thanks Vineet.

  4. @Finetuner, thanks for your appreciation !

  5. Great pics Vineet. Because of the newness of the layout, I could not find any of what you have captured here. Lost patience I guess with the glitz and glamour.

  6. Hey Vineet Arora, Long time, how you been? IndiBlogger is coming back to Kolkata, our favorite city after very long time. Its been 2 years. And we cant wait to see you thereDid you sign up for Kolkata IndiBlogger Meet If you haven't already, do sign up today, Only 200 seats available. Entry is free with loads of fun. Cheers,
    IndiBlogger Team

  7. Hey Vineet,

    We share two things between us. One is our name and secondly love for blogging ! I have already signed up and am looking forward to meet up all of you blokes :)

  8. Long time I miss your blogs. Are you okay?
    I liked your last Durga puja coverage.This time checked and surprised that you are off the net for long.Here are my offering to one of Guru on Blog Narrative at the end of Durga Puja.

    Shub Vijaya

    Goutam Moitra
    Chartered Accountant

  9. Dear Goutam da,

    Thank you for writing to me. Yes, I am ok. It is just that I have been very busy with work and have had no time to write. I am trying to rekindle my passion for blogging. You will see a few posts soon. Thanks for sending me those links, I will check them out and yes a very belated Shubho Bijoya to you as well!

    - nkob!

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  11. Young Angels Book Publishing House is Organises Book fairs in Schools and Book clubs in PTM.Young Angels publisher is also equipped with Kids' Educational Monthly Magazine and have been delivering Kids' Literacy Resources in India Since 2005


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