Saturday, February 04, 2006

Language Barrier

I went to Calcutta Book Fair along with Junglee(aka Amit Gupta) today. It was a nice collection of books but most of the stalls were of Bong books. So we just looked at some stalls with English titles.

The prices of most of the books was mindboggling. I mean I couldn't find many books below Rs300. Even the books that we never thought could have existed were highly priced. I just bought 100 yrs of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez and Hind Swaraj by M K Gandhi. Junglee didn't buy any.

Then we saw a stall with Hindi books. We were lucky to sneak in because it was closing as it was already 8:00 pm. As we begin to flip through books, we noticed a strange thing. The prices were all below Rs 100. And there were some poetry books of Mathilisharan Gupt for just Rs 10. Now we wonder why was there this language barieer. And mind u these were not books by some unknown writer but famous Hindi writers like Premchand and Dharamveer Bharti.

Immediately our thoughts shifted towards poor state of Hindi Literature. I dont mean to say that Hindi Lit is the best or anything but it definitely cann't be that bad as to so much difference. Most of us have not read any Hindi Lit after Class X. I still remember some poems and stories from my Hindi textbooks, but after going to IIT it was English everywhere. Everytime.

I bought Gunaahon Ke Devta by Dharamveer Bharti and Junglee bought 2 Premchand classics, Anandmath and 2 poetry books. And the total was somewhere around Rs 250. Equal to 100 Yrs of solitude. And believe me there were ppl who were sulking(bargaining) on that also. The same ppl who would have been ready to pay thrice the price for some arbit English stuff without any fuss.

Again I m cribbing without giving any possible soln. After starting the blog I have become more of a cribber and less of problem solver. But I cann't solve this problem also.

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Anonymous Amit said...

Nice one :)

I dont agree with 2 things:
I]ppl who were bargaining for the hindi books were not those who wud readily buy english ones at higher prices..they looked more like school teachers or hindi speaking ppl who dont read hi-fi english authors

II]Secondly i think those hindi books cost less coz
1)they were very old books..more than 100 yrs(new authors will cost more..though mebbe not 300+)) more royalty to authors
2)they were from local publishers (agreed not the best paper/print quality either..but my purpose was served).. english publishers either charge exorbitantly in dollars
or even in EEE (eastern economy editions) charge relatively more.

But a gud thing abt well priced books is..the authors also get paid more. Premchand and others had to live in abject poverty.
But then wouldn't a wider book-reading population be better in today's TV and internet dominated world?

(btw..apart frm high cost, i didnt buy any English books bcos they r more readily available in our college library/ internet/ Crossword stores than Hindi classics :) )

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read here

4:27 PM  
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8:18 AM  

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