A question. Have you spent in one day more than your monthly expenses on rent, water, electricity, food, and clothes put together? If so, on what? Answering my own question, well, I have. Pray on what you ask? On what else, but books!
A small request before I go on and on about this rather addictive experience. Please don't label me an intellectual snob. I put this before you not to show off, but rather to share this very pleasant experience with you. Moving on, allow me to welcome all you ignorant masses to the thrills of the 13th Annual Delhi Book Fair. Spread over four halls of the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, it is the most compelling place to loose your mind and loosen your wallet. Books to the left of me, books to the right; here I was, very pleasantly stuck in the middle. Accompanied by none other that his Lordship, Sir Ajit (B.Tech, O.B.E, F.R.C.S and Supreme Commander of all Universe), I travelled the halls purchasing books left, right and any other direction.
Sweet, sweet print!
In the second stall we visited, I found in two volumes, the complete history, works, criticisms, and descriptions of the one and only Salvador Dali. And the asking price, only Rs. 1700. Not a problem. In the next stall I find rare works on the histories of Sikkim and Bhutan. In the next stall, an excellent collection of Ruskin Bond's travel writings. Well, you can easily picture my delight as I stumble from store to store laden with my heavy purchases. Along the halls I find an entire stall dedicated to the Gnanapeet awardees. Nirmal Verma's "Lal tin ki chath" is added to the growing booty.
Turn the corner and what do I see? A book on the architectural splendor present in Chandini Chowk. And I kid you not, this book, this seminal book has been written by the Member of Parliament of Chandini Chowk. This book is replete with beautiful pictures of really awe inspiring buildings in present day Shahjahanabad. What a lucky constituency to have such an MP. It just makes you fall in love with the old Dilli. As I walk along, books on the histories of Kabul and Kandahar get added to the already heavy booty. Butterball by Guy de Maupassant, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and the collected food writings by Vir Sanghvi just to add the finishing touches. I am a child in a chocolate factory.
Better bargains than your local grocer
The one reason I refused to go vegetable shopping when I was in Bangalore is because I can't bargain to save my life. I never bothered to pick up the art (as brilliantly displayed by Vivek S at the Palika Bazaar), preferring to quietly pay up the asking price. Bargaining for your vegetables is one thing. But, bargaining for a Certification Examination? That too is now possible. For it has been done.
Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine by the name of Vaibhav D. Mild mannered techie by day. Feared bargain hunter by night. For he has taken the process of bargaining from a passing skill to the level of the darkest of arts. His mere presence sends many a shop to pull down their Sale signs. And his claim to fame? He has successfully bargained to reduce the price of the SCJP examination by Rs 2100.
For the uninitiated, SCJP stands for Sun Certified Java Programmer, a certification examination offered by Sun Microsystems. Their asking price for the examination? Rs 7200. And the price he paid? Rs 5100. Like I said, a dark dark art. Imagine what I would do with a dark art like that. Today the Delhi Book Fair, tomorrow the world! No on can stop me!
No, must not reveal evil plans to take over the world...