Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Small Spark

"Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting."
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I was humbled to recently attend Asia's largest book fair, a most significant element of Calcutta's past and present. The Calcutta Book Fair, when Spouse and I arrived on the scene, was seething with avaricious readers on the hunt for a rare paperback, a comic from their distant childhood or the latest bestseller.
It was a chaotic, complex gathering, worthy of the vast space it occupied, and a genuine haven both of literature and of food: the familiar scent of crisp paper wafted from one direction while the aroma of the latter threatened to veer me off the path of words and into a world of perpetual eating.
"Let's begin with the books," I said to Spouse, but I said it with an uncertain quiver in my voice because I also longed to examine the edible sustenance as soon as possible.
I would have been content to remain at that tantalising juncture for any number of weeks, or at least until the much-anticipated festival drew to a close.
Over our indecisive heads a loudspeaker was dispensing thundering information about the event but offered no sage advice on whether the books or the food ought to be delved into first.
"Please be careful when lighting cigarettes," the speaker suggested in an emphatic, sincere voice that cemented the gravity of the warning, "because one small spark can usher in terrible danger."
There and then, wedged awkwardly between thousands of people, thoroughly absorbing the adventuresome scene I found myself in- a moment which was bordering on the surreal- I knew I was in a place like no other.


Pappy said...

One small spark from man, one huge bonfire for mankind. I don't think that was the exact quote. Sounds like you had a great time. Pappy

julochka said...

a place like no other indeed. for me, india is the strangest combination of total chaos and stifling bureaucracy...but it's always, always, always colorful and interesting.

Anonymous said...

I love booksales and fairs. Here in Calgary we have two large ones every year and lots of excellent used book stores.

Have you ever been to Powell's in Portland, Oregon. Huge place.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm enjoying these stories so much - and I long, long! - to be at that book fair. It sounds absolutely stupendous.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Texican, good words, very clever ;)

Julie, it was definitely interesting. Lots of chaos but at least to my eye it seemed to work for the people there, especially the drivers. They have their system I suppose.

Steve, I haven't been to that bookfair- they're fascinating even if it's just to browse about and watch other people looking at books. We had to limit what we bought there for purposes of luggage weight, so we couldn't go as wild with book buying as we would have liked.

Courtney, I'm glad you like them :) It was a fabulous place to be in, and to watch people. Lots of writing material!

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