Trade Fair Entertainment

Is Delhi starved of entertainment?  The number of people who gathered today, a weekday, at Pragati Maidan to visit the India International Trade Fair (IITF) would make one think so.  The number ran to thousands.

A fraction of the visitors at IITF

If you were to observe for some time you would easily notice that most visitors never bought anything much from any stall.  The only stalls that did good trade were those dealing in food items.

I was also a casual visitor who had no serious intention of buying anything.  I was merely curious and today  being a holiday for me I decided to indulge my curiosity.  The realisation that there are too many people like me in Delhi who visit the IITF merely out of curiosity or just for the heck of it did amuse me.  And people are ready to undergo much inconvenience for the sake of such an insubstantial entertainment.

It was entertaining to watch other people, however.  The way they examine certain things which they may have no intention of buying, the way some people bargain with the traders who have come from other countries such as Thailand, Pakistan, Vietnam and South Africa...  I was particularly amused by the way a middle-aged woman managed to get a synthetic flower free from a Thai stall by flattering the charms of the young lady who was managing the sales.

A view of the foreign stalls
Some of the state pavilions are beautifully decorated.

At the entrance to the Kerala pavilion

The Gujarat pavilion
I was also struck by the number of boys who went around scrounging waste bins for plastic bottles and other things which they could sell for a pittance.

A woman collecting plastic from a garbage tank
I found very few things at the IITF that I needed.  Of course, I hadn't gone there to buy anything really.  I learnt much, however.  The greatest lesson, perhaps, is that I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the need for nothing. 


  1. Hello Sir! I was aware about the trade fair but couldn't make to visit it. Can you please tell me is it still on or not? I really want to go there and capture some beautiful stuffs.

    1. Yes, Priti, you still have time till Sunday next. You can expect a huge crowd on weekend, so huge that it will be oppressive.

  2. But then poor Indians are starved of entertainment, what with the authorities hanging a petty rag-doll in a secrecy befitting the end of an Osama!

    Great coverage. I liked the photos of the stalls and State counters. My favourite is the one of the Indian state, the last one, of the industrious woman fishing out plastic water bottles from the trash cart. It's a wonder that with such industry and perseverance we are still at the bottoms of the development chart.

    1. That secret hanging had made the security check at the Fair very strict. I had to empty my pockets entirely before the security personnel. Even my camera was examined by an expert before it was returned to me. Of course, security is vital in a place where thousands of people gather...

      Development is on a narrow track in India. Very few people have been lucky enough to get on to that.

  3. My first one to 'Asia72' when I was a kid started this chain of harassing and harrowing visits comprising some 20 of them on some pretext or the other(I had to go in business hours too when it is comparatively quiet)until I stubbornly said no a few years back!
    Delhites do have time, money and energy no doubt:):)
    I loved every bit of your post, Matheikal!

    1. Unless you have something specific to do there, the Fair is quite a pain, Amit. I made this visit after a gap of many years and was encouraged not to visit it again for another few years.

  4. I haven't been to Pragati Maidan for many years....all these fairs are basically useless. The foodie counters do well, as you said!
    But, the garbage part made me sad...!
    Thanks for sharing, matheikal.

    1. Panchali, I learnt that the waste plastic they collect fetches them Rs25 per kg. I also learnt that they collect quite a lot of it from such gatherings with all mineral water bottles and soft drink bottles. So, such fairs enhance the life of many unfortunate people!

  5. Most of the fairs tell the same story. Food counters doing a good business.

    The rag picker looking for scrap is a good example. Delhi it seems has thousands of rag pickers who help to recycle plastic items, which are piling up. The govt. sponsored ones are not able to cope with the work!

    1. Indeed, Pattu, these poor ragpickers do a great service. You'll see them at every garbage gathering place in the morning every day. They do a lot of scavenging in the modern sense - recycling plastic! Kudos to them.

  6. In what way the fair is different than, say, temple festivals? Do you think people go to such festivals to pray? Do you know the percentage of people who go to the featured concerts at the various venues during the "Music Season" in Chennai during December to enjoy what is on offer? Minuscule. People go there to be seen! This, of course, everyone going to these concerts knows and therefore being seen by other people who came there only to be seen does not fetch any social premium. So sad ...

    The carnival atmosphere is what is entertainment. There need be no particular purpose. No different than window shopping.

    The photo showing someone digging into the trash bin is best illustrated by showing how it is done in Disney Land / Disney World! That contrast is worth a thousand, "Oh, how sad ..." sighs.



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