When my mom was in school, she used to come to Chennai for visits. We did not have any relatives at that time (1960s) and I should think of these visits as purely for seeing the sights as my grandfather had the travel bug all the time. They used to stay in the Nadar Mansion in the Poonamalle High road (even today, this is our family's choice of stay) and go around. One of the things she used to tell us is the grand dinners they used to have in the Hotel Dasaprakash in PH road.
Last saturday, I went to the Chennai book fair. Since I was going alone, wife and kids were in in-laws, I preferred to take my favorite means of transport, the suburban train and bus. So got down at Egmore and had a look at the spire of the St. Andrews church and started walking. I was not really in a mood to wait for a bus and so thought, if I start walking, I might reach the fair quickly and also can walk along the quiet railways quarters area in the PH road. Thats when I saw the Dasaprakash. I've seen it before but this time, it looked derelict and kind of a sad reminder of the days it had seen. There was a old watchman at the post and a few old cars and carriages in the front yard. I couldn't figure whether it is still functioning and was busy contrasting with the newest 'Influence' in the next block which has a fashion store, spa and a stylish restaurant. Somehow, I felt like taking a picture and took one of Dasaprakash. Got a bus near the Dr. Nair road and reached the book fair.
It is kind of irrational for me to see so much crowd in the book fair and there was no parking inside and so it spilled into the road with cars and bikes parking all along with impatient MTC drivers honking their way through. The stalls were as usual too many and the crowd was heavy at the entrance and gets thin as you walk through the stalls. The books that seem to sell are the 'தன்னம்பிக்கை' books and children books. In fact, when I was standing in the Kizhakku stall, there was guy who wanted from me a quick review on the five parts of the 'அள்ள அள்ள பணம்' and I have to tell him I didn't even know such a book exists. Not sure whether he thought I was working in the stall or just looked like a book who needed to read that book.
Doordarshan has reduced the price of the 'Bharat - Ek Khoj' series from an idiotic initial price of 18000Rs (for 18 DVDs) to a nominally irrational 5000Rs. I am still wondering who sets these prices here and whether the aim is to make sure only a few people see such series.
For once, I was able to find what I was searching for in Sahitya Akademi(thats how they spell it) and was happy find the new edition of 'Parva'. CBT and NBT had some good children books and the rest of the stalls were busily selling Dora, dictionaries at a faster rate than any time.
Outside, everything from a blood donation camp to a 'புதுமை கவியரங்கம்' with Mehta as lead was going on and I made it out before it started.
Overall, when I came back and checked the books I've bought, three books on Mahabharata (Parva, உப பாண்டவம், கிருஷ்ணா கிருஷ்ணா). But what I am looking forward to is the writings of E.V. Periyar.
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