I visited the 24th Patna Book Fair at its new venue, the newly-built commodious Gyan Bhawan on 8th December with an element of curiosity aroused by the change - a shift from the dusty outdoors expanse of Gandhi Maidan to an indoors Convention Hall.
If the venue change was to spread more Gyan, it disappointed. There were fewer book stalls, fewer discounts on books and the entry fee double that of previous editions. There was a lot more of glitter indoors, but the fizz was missing.
No food stalls meant the colour and ring of millennials 'dating', Indian style, was not on display. Nor were scenes of mommies screeching, scampering trying to rein in their romping Dennis the Menace's in the dusty expanse of a Gandhi Maidan where past 'pustak melas' were held. Gone too was the hustle and bustle of a throng boosted in no small measure by Gandhi Maidan regulars who found better visuals within the mela enclosure than the sterile monotonous landscape of a vast maidan. They did not buy but 'built' up a mela ambience that we so love. Also, didn't see many school kids.
It was indeed a staid business affair. You went if you were a serious student or a parent of one, or, worse, oldies who like to look their age by being seen looking for Vedas and Puranas or such books. True to form, I saw one behind me buying an abridged version of ShivPurana (it runs into 832 pages, one wonders how voluminous the full text would be) and a collection of Kabir's dohas. At least, there was no disappointment there for him, there was no dearth of such books in the stalls.
To sum up, good 'Exhibition', but no 'Mela' !
A R Mishra, Patrakar Nagar, Patna.