Saturday, January 10, 2004

If you are a bibliophile in Chennai, you must surely be aware of the annual book fair held at Quaid E Millet College grounds in January. The fair is conducted by Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) and this year's fair is from 9th - 19th Jan.

The first time I visited the fair was in 1991, when I was in Higher secondary. The intention was noble, to shop lift books:). We were a gang of 4 - Adarsh, Vivek, Raja and myself. It helped that these guys had the rich affluent look unlike me (my friend Anuja says I look like a tapori when dressed neatly). The modus operandi was the classic one, all of us distracting the counter clerk, while one picked up the book. It didn't matter what book it was, we were into it for the thrill. It was Raja Jaivel who did the actual picking. He hid it in his loose pullover which he had worn specifically for this purpose. The suffering publisher was either Orient Longman or Oxford University Press, can't remember.

From 1992 to 2000 I wasn't in Chennai so could not polish my skills in shop lifting. By this time I had also matured enough (my wife doesn't agree) to buy books instead of stealing. In 2001 I spent my money on buying the entire collection of Kalki's novels (Ponniyin Selvan, Parthiban Kanavu, Alai Osai and Sivagamiyin Sabatham). 2002 was a bad year, financially restrained, I just wandered around the fair. In 2003 I bought Thi. Jaa short stories, a poetry book by Abdul Rahman , Letters of Pudumaipiththan and Chettinadu Thaalaatu Paadalgal (Lullabies of Chettinad).

This year I haven't yet decided on what to buy. Will just go there and let the books lead me. The pleasure of a bibliophile in a book fair .....

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