The Cal Carnivale

Made a visit today to what is undoubtedly the largest spectacle (ok, other than Durga Puja and those damn rallies, maybe) this city has to offer. And obviously, for this city famed for its intellectual pursuits, intellegentsia, Bengali Bhadraloks et al, that could only be a book fair. That is notwithstanding the fact that most people who throng the Maidan are in quest of far baser pleasures ( in point, the Food Stall). Yeah, that brings me to one of my favourite topics, food. I really have to hand it over to Calcuttans. They seem to have developed some kind of an inbuilt defence mechanism, completely immunue to almost everything under the sun. They way all the street food was being devoured amidst all that dust, had to be seen to be believed. Really, its way too dusty at Maidan, especialy when it has such multitudes trampling all over it. Perhaps, things shall take a turn for the better from next year when reportedly the venue is being shifted to someplace of E.M. Bypass.
I have never really been a big fan (or even a small fan) of book fairs. Why on earth should I go and jostle to have a look at books in all that dirt and dust, when I can do that easily in the air-conditioned comfort of Oxford and Landmark. And anyway, you’re likely to get more of a discount at the College Street bookstores or even the Family Book Shop. Still, there was no way I could’ve returned empty-handed from this place.
Got Banville’s Revolutions Trilogy and Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Banville is a guy have a read a lot about and the three novels are supposed to be his best works. Ergo, my choice. Eco, on the other hand, after my experience with his previous work, was more in the nature of a calculated gamble. Perhaps, all that arcana would be easier to tolerate if the novel itself was steeped in an era where all that arcanity actually counted for something. Foucault’s Pendulum, with its abrupt leaps from contemporary to medieval climes did not have this element. I expect Name of the Rose, touted as it is, as a taut Renaissance mystery to have it.


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