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Thursday, February 22, 2007


This year's Book Fair was not looking like one. It seemed like a normal fair that was unable to draw people to it. I had the opportunity to visit Book Fair 2007 with Gaurav and stayed there from 2.00pm till 9.00pm on Sunday the 18th of Feb, 2007.

The poor infrastructure at Salt Lake Stadium made the fair look lean. Maidan, where the book fair is held every year has its own charm. No other fair grounds can ever have the same charm or copy the charm from maidan. People travel by Metro Rail to visit the book fair at maidan each year which was something people missed a lot this year.

Even the collection of books were less compared to the previous years. Leading publishers were also not seen this year.

Firstly, a fishy stinking smell was coming out from the mud and the sand that was laid before the stalls. The lanes between the stalls were narrow, that made it difficult for the crowd to pass during peak hours. Only one good thing was that there was no puddles here and there that is a common site in Maidan.

Another thing that draws praise is the paper-pickers who picked the papers lying here and ther on the ground. The collected the papers to keep the place clean. They were sponsored by a leading FM Station. (I don't remember the name) . Those paper-pickers did a great job.

The toilet facilities were good for the males, but I saw a great queue in front of the female toilet. Only the authorities knows the actual reason.

The price of food items touched the sky. Cost of any food items was charged twice their normal price. This is a common phenomenon seen in Kolkata nowadays. The food items have become really costly. It is really difficult for the middle class people to afford them. The quality was also lacking.

There were only about 900 book stalls but most of the book stalls were extended around the stadium making most of the people unaware of the stalls there. So many remained aloof of the stalls around the stadium. All the people concentrated on the stalls that were erected behind the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

There was a grass field where couples and lovers haad the good opportunity to sit together and chat their heart out. This grass field was behind the stadium and was secluded from the main fair which made the couples have a good time.

While returning there were absolutely no transport facilities by the transport department and most of the people has to return to the next more (crossing) by walking and catch a bus or a cab from there. As for our case, we had to walk till Beliaghata CIT More to catch an auto to Sealdah. Others had to walk till Phoolbagan or Ultadanga or Chingrighata to catch a bus or auto to their home. The inadequate transport facilities disappointed the enthusiastic crowd.

Next day, I saw on the newspaper that there were about 90,000 footfalls at the book fair on Sunday the 18th of Feb, 2007., which was about 1/9th compared to the normal footfall at the Maidan. Hats off to Rani Rashmoni for gifting the people of Kolkata the Maidan which is both culturally rich and filled with heritage.

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