Every once in a while you visit a place that reminds you why travelling is truly an enlightening and enriching experience. My first visit to the World Book Fair in New Delhi was certainly such an experience! From the wonderful and generous hospitality I received from Govinda Berry at Govinda Bookhouse, to watching the booktrade at work in Pragati Maidan; from the parathas at lunch to the after dinner paan, everything was so different to anything I have ever seen or tasted, and yet so familiar too. I’ve eaten ‘Indian’ food in Britain since I was a child, so the food itself was not so much of a surprise. The difference in quality though was enormous. I’ve never eaten such succulent buttered chicken, or such tender seekh kebab in the UK! Parathas were new to me, and although our Indian friends claimed that I had hardly eaten a thing, I think I have put on several kilos in weight! And the paan was truly a delicacy that I will miss in the UK, rounding off an evening with a visit to the paan wala was an experience not to be missed.
We displayed our books in Hall 8 of the World Book Fair, and received a lot of interest from both the Indian booktrade and from librarians and academics. We will be working with our partners in India, in particular Govinda Bookhouse, to make sure that our books are widely available to everyone who wishes to purchase them. I also look forward to discussing future projects with Indian authors. I was struck particularly by the cooperation amongst booksellers to make sure that the customers got the books they wanted, even if this meant taking them to the stall of another bookseller.
I had a fantastic time in India, and I can’t wait to go back again for the next World Book Fair in 2014.