My travels is all about... My views on random places of interest, persons, things, events & issues etc,.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan


(On Vijayawada's 28th Annual Book Festival 2017)


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On the banks of River Krishna, in the district named after the river, lies the business capital of Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada - The city of Victory). This Railway Junction is famous for it's scorching heat and it's motivated, active citizenry. Although devoid of any old world charm (Chennai), benevolent cosmopolitan culture (Bengaluru), historically secular traditions (Hyderabad), the city has it's potential. It is raising, albeit slowly and sadly, a long way to go! In here, the Karl Marx Road (Eluru Road) runs almost parallel to the Mahatma Gandhi Road (Bandar Road), a stark remainder of the times when people briefly flirted with Socialism and Communism. The Kanakadurga temple atop Indrakeeladri hill, the Prakasam Barrage and a violent near past with the dual dark undertones of Caste and Politics make up this engrossing place!    

It is in this city, on the sprawling Swaraj Maidan (PWD Grounds), that every year (usually 1st-11th January) an annual book festival is conducted by the Vijayawada Book Festival Society. Year 2017 marks the 28th edition of this event, a visit after 4 years! A Plethora of subjects and view points represented by 235 stalls, regular intra-festival meetings and panel discussions mark the multi-day event. In the era of Kindle and Internet, books do hold a space, although diminishing. The scent of a new-bound paper, the dynamics of turning a page, the idea of being and feeling, an irresistible and irrational urge to read and write - some vices are, as yet, not recognized as such!  

Judging by number of footfalls and stalls, there is a year-on year decline. But, few things are beyond statistics. A husband coaxing his wife to read Maxim Gorky's 'Mother', an excited village boy seeking any book for English communication skills finally happy with 'Word Power Made Easy', aspirants of government jobs scrambling for competitive books (AP Group exams are around the corner), a lady sharply scanning English novels for run-away prices, youth thronging stalls of Spirituality and Religion (emulating their role model, Swami Vivekananda), a visible treat for a Bibliophile with a range to choose from Telugu and English. The list of authors, as always is impressively diverse - from the regularly respected Agatha Christie, Fyodr Dostoevsky, Gabriel Marquez, George Orwell, Munshi Premchand, Sri Sri to the shockingly well received Adolf Hitler, Mao ze Dong.                

The publishing houses embraced technology - PayTM, Card Reading Devices and Net Banking -a welcome step this year. The world's greatest book fairs (Frankfurt, New Delhi etc) combine a liberal celebration of freedom of speech and expression with a local flavor. For Vijayawada's book festival, the key issue, is to never lose track of it's patrons - the middle class. Discussions are welcome, but discounts matter. Or, as my father once jokingly advised after I ranted about the prices of  an old Frederick Forsyth novel there - make a list, try second hand at another place, the Lenin Center. May their pockets be deep, who delve into reading! To me personally, after Blossoms Book Store (Church Street, Bengaluru), these "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan" shall remain a favorite.
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References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - 28th Annual Book Festival, Swaraj Maidan, (PWD Grounds), Vijayawada - 520002, Krishna, Andhra Pradesh
On -9th of January, 2017

2. Subject - 28th Annual Book Festival, Vijayawada - "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan"
The Vijayawada Book Festival Society organised the 28th Annual Vijayawada Book Festival at Swaraj Maidan from 1st till 11th of January, 2017. During my brief stay at Vijayawada, I was a regular visitor, but this time it was after a gap of 4 years. Lively discussions on varied topics (this time on Demonitization, Water Conservation etc), Greed and Need filled hunt for books, mark these 11 days.
I do earnestly wish that one day, the society would start a permenant website too, so that I could happily tag-link them here! 
Please click - The City of Vijayawada

3. Picture -28th Annual Book Festival, Vijayawada - "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan"
Book Festival Entrance from the Mahatma Gandhi Road (Bander Road)