A fair is usually gathering of people from all walks of life. In such a gathering there is no discrimination between class, creed & caste. Men, women and children congregate to exchange views, to contemplate issues, regarding the particular fair in which they assemble. We come across industrial fair, trade fair, Lexpo and the like throughout the seasons, particularly in winter. Amongst popular ones, the bookfair in Kolkata has stepped into its 31st year with glory and success. The 'Kolkata Book Fair' was held at the Kolkata Maidan despite strong protest from the lovers of greenery, environmentalists and army. The gaiety and the festive mood prevailed from the initial day to the last bringing the Kolkata crowd, the booklovers and the lovers of harmony and integration. The KBF is, in fact, the fourteenth 'parvana' (festival) of Bengal. I have attempted to catch a few glimpses of the last bookfair in its variegated moods.
1 Indeed, it is an ocean of humanity. The crowd, the populace, the gathering in the bookfair far outreaches the assemblage in any other fair held in Kolkata. Are they all booklovers who hop from one stall to the other in search of new title? Are not same of them gay-makers, the teenagers for instance?
2 What an enthusiasm at the discovery of unconventional and brand-new publications?
3 Defying the electronic media, the internet and the cyber-world, the tiny-tots pour over children's volume, inhaling their fresh smell, appreciating their get-up.
4 What does the hermit come in here for? Specific stalls have also been designed for satiating the thirst of these visionaries.
5 The musical chorus of the young group captivates the passing crowd of the KBF. It is a time-pass for those who do not necessarily flock on the ground to have a taste of known and unknown titles.
6 Indian, Chinese, Moghlai and all types of beverages feed the hungry and the thirsty even in a fair called 'Bookfair'.
7 'Men in yellow' for the 'green fair'. The organizers are perhaps not oblivious of their assigned duty, the duty to keep the fair ground clean.
8 The moneyed and the deprived- the fair is meant for one and all. Chottu, Champa, Sushanta- they have their regular jaunts in search of coins for their livelihood. Let them have their share, while the pursuit of learning continues.
The politicians, bureaucrats, environmentalists and the army are in favour of a permanent shade for the KBF near E.M. Bypass. We the passionate lovers of books find no substitute of the venue. Let the debate continue, while we look forward to enjoy, celebrate and to photograph the activities of the KBF on the same ground, same path that have been trod upon for the last thirsty-one years.

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