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The Humble Word
by Ramendra Kumar



A deluge of books, a cornucopia of pictures,  a veritable army of writers, illustrators, critics and a plethora of fans and readers –  the  New Delhi World Book Fair, 2013 offered all this and lots more.

This being my first visit to any World Book Fair, the experience was humbling in a myriad ways.  Though I did visit most of the stalls my area of activity centred around the Children and Youth Pavilion. Aesthetically set up and beautifully laid out this turned out to be the USP of the fair. A unique aspect was the Illustrators’ & Authors’ corner where the sketches of the artists and the books penned by the wordsmiths were showcased much to the delight of the young and the young at heart. All my books were put on display. These included 20 books in English, 13 translations in Indian Languages and 6 in foreign ones.  As the young readers browsed through the books and asked questions, I played the role of a proud mama displaying her kids, to near perfection!!

I had been invited by NBT, India to participate in the release of three of my picture books published by the esteemed publishing house. The books “Boond”, “The Royal Sweeper” and “We’re Different” were launched during the course of the Book Fair. I also had the privilege of chairing a Panel Discussion on “Role of Parents in Promotion of Pleasure Reading”, on 4th afternoon. All the speakers emphasized on the need for reading for enjoyment rather than reading for ‘success’.

Later as I was visiting the various stalls I released how much reading for pleasure is  giving way to reading for enhancing skills, faculties and knowledge. Titles which offered instant success in every field ranging from maths to magic, science to sports, computers to cuisine et al seemed to be pushing elegant prose and  eternal poetry out of the books shelves. This reminded me of my story (Fact and Fiction) published in Bolokids.

On the third day I participated in a “Meet the Author” programme. With children filling up the entire pavilion to the brim, the stage was perfect. I told a couple of stories  and then fielded questions fired by the kids and the adults.  The questions ranged from the process of ideation to the creation of characters.

The piece de resistance of the festival according to me was the “Book Art Installations,” an collaborative exhibition  by NBT, India and College of Art, Delhi.

Installations which caught the imagination were the Idea Bulb, The Guardian Nest, The Eiffel Tower and The Evergreen Pond. My books were on display in these mixed media creations and I was naturally proud to be a part of this unfettered brilliance.

The three days I spent with  books and readers will remain indelibly etched in my mind. It was  a great feeling that in today’s world of sound bytes and pixels the humble Word still retains its place in the minds, hearts and souls.
 

17-Feb-2013
 
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