When anybody hears about a book fair, the first thing he or she can visualise is a fair where bookworms in great numbers gather to buy books of their choice.
But this is not the only case for the ongoing "Ekushey Granthamela" (book fair), which also offers an array of choices to the visitors alongside buying books. The attractions that do not usually come to the fore are no doubt adding dimensions to the festival of books.
And the attractions are so tempting that those are hard to resist, said a group of students of Titumir College whom this correspondent met at the fair. They were waiting for one of their friends to show up so that they could spend some quality time together.
“I bought 'Badshah Namdar' by Humayun Ahmed. We roamed around the fair from stall to stall… had discussion about books. Now, we are resting,” said Nazmul, a student of statistics department of the college.
His friend Asif said, “I was getting bored at home. So I called my friends to pay a visit to the fair. Now here we all are together.”
"We are planning to enjoy the cultural programme in the evening at Mukta Mancha in the Suhrawardy Udyan," he added.
There were couples too who were taking selfies and wandering around the place with euphoria. For whom, the book fair is an opportunity to spend time together.
“I bought Humayun Ahmed's novel for my loved ones,” said Himel, who came to the fair with his counterpart Eva.
Eva said, “We have been staying together the whole day and enjoying each other's company alongside buying books.” There were some couples who had their drawings done by the freelancer artists at the fair. One such artist is Muhammad Niyaz, who has been drawing portraits of the visitors since 2004 in the book fair.
“Couples and children come with their family members to get their faces sketched. The number rises during holidays or any special occasions,” he said.
In addition, a month-long cultural programme marking International Mother Language Day is going on at Mukta Mancha in the Suhrawardy Udyan. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, in association with Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation and Bangladesh Pothonatok Parishad organise the event every year. “People gather here during the book fair to watch our performances. It is also a significant part of the book fair. We mostly stage dramas on the Liberation War,” Said Central Executive Member of the Federation Khandaker Anwar Islam.
Moreover, near the book launching stage in the Suhrawardy Udyan, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) has set up a stall, making people aware of donating blood. They are also testing blood groups free of cost.
Yesterday, a total of 141 books arrived at the fair while a book titled “Raktokto Patabhumi” by a contemporary writer Khandaker Tasmina Rahman was unveiled. The book focuses on building peace in the society through coexistence of different beliefs.
DAILY STAR BOOKS
On the 19th day of the fair, Daily Star Books, stall number 358-59, kept on drawing attention of the young readers.
“A Golden Age” by Tahmima Anam, “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” by Medea Benjamin, “The Guerrilla” (a personal memoir of 1971) by Shahzaman Mozumder, and “Genocide They Wrote” by Inam Ahmed and Shakhawat Liton were most sought after books in the stall. “I am amazed at the collection of books at the stall,” said Urjoshyee, a student of Bir Shreshtha Noor Mohammad Rifles Public School and College. She bought four books from the stall.
Besides, the stall displays Bangla books including “Srestho Rohosso Uponnas” by Rakib Hasan, “Kishor Muktijoddha” by Mostafa Hossain, among others.
Emran Mahfuz, coordinator of Daily Star Books, said a book titled “Sangrami Nari 52 o Ektattor (interview)” edited by Bashar Khan, will arrive at the stall today.
Syed Abul Maksud's “Bangalee Musolmaner Buddhibrittik Bibhrom o Bishwashinota” will be available at the stall soon, he added.