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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

in kolkata boi mela as a participant

I still remember my first association with this gigantic event.

It was in 1993 that a couple of my friends and I decided to participate in the fair and not go there just as a visitor.

When we sent our request for allotment of a stall, we were apprehensive – it had been given to understand that, due to limited number of stalls, these were allotted based on recommendations. However, our allotment came almost immediately without involvement of any third party. Probably the novelty of getting a Bengali publisher from outside Bengal to participate in the fair was the deciding factor for the Committee.

All of us were into writing and, being Bengalis, we naturally honed our skills in little magazines that we produced ourselves. We used to stay in Maharastra and, Bengali printing facilities outside Bengal was unheard of in those days. Therefore, one of us who had a good handwriting would transcribe the matter on to cyclostyling stencils from which we would take prints, then bind them into book form and distribute them among friends. In return, we would collect some subscription to cover expenses. The periodicity of these magazines was ‘as and when ready!!’ We always had a stream of writers waiting to see their names in print. We continued such literary pursuits until one day a friend came and informed that Bengali language font could be arranged and we could print our magazines right here in Maharastra. It was something revolutionary. We immediately sat down to work out the pros and cons, especially of the Finances involved. If we were really able to get this off the ground, we would be considered as pioneers in the field, we would be able to nurture a lot of hidden talent. The gentleman who we were banking upon agreed to include Bengali fonts along with his own Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati fonts. Thereby, we would have to share only one fourth the cost of the complete package. We agreed to pool our resources and arrange to procure the package.

Then came the difficult part of learning something that was totally alien to us.

We were no typists and our knowledge of computers was also very limited. But, undaunted, we accepted the challenge, learnt how to type the language characters, how to compose a page, how to edit them, how to introduce special effects – and then, one fine day, we released our magazine in the market. We had a ready local market and, to cover expenses, we relied upon advertisements of our local patrons.

Thus, in 1992, we entered the print market and, with a couple of issues of the magazine under our belt, we got the inspiration to move on to something bigger, something we never thought could materialize.

We decided to publish books – Bengali books from, of all places, Nasik.

(to be continued…..)


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