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Meet men whose love for Typewriter keeps it alive in India

The world's last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce, which produced 12,000 machines in 2009 alone, closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011

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Typists in India. Image source: www.youtube.com
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  • A handful of Indian typists keeps the tradition of typewriting alive in India
  • Every year, Typewriter day is acknowledged on June 23
  • The world’s last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce was closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011

A 70 year-old man in Kolkata works on his aged but gleaming typewriter, typing the neatest of the documents in exchange of a meager amount. When the whole world has made computers part of their lives, these men kept the age old tradition of typewriting alive through their love for it.

Typewriter day is acknowledged on June 23 and recognizes the US patent granted to Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868. Thus it becomes crucial to recognize people who keep the spirit of the ancient device up.

An underwood typewriter with its qwerty keyboard. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A report records that “The world’s last mechanical typewriter manufacturing company, Godrej & Boyce, which produced 12,000 machines in 2009 alone, closed down in Mumbai, India, in 2011. The warehouse has since been converted into a refrigerator-manufacturing unit.” However, the machine has not taken a last breath yet.

The most noticeable idea arises when one sees the typewriters still being a part of many people working outside the courts. For them, earning 5 dollars a day is an achievement. The most interesting thing to note is how these people have this sole occupation to rely on for their livelihood, hence the will to type the documents make them passionate for the work and also for the device.

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It’s not that they didn’t try their luck at several other occupations as that of clerical jobs in several government offices. However, they felt content being a typist as it fetches them enough for their livelihood. They do not own a cabin inside high-rise buildings but sit under blue plastic sheets opposite to the street tea-stalls, juice corners and ‘pan bhandars’.

The reason with their sticking to the same place, whatever the season is, brings one to the fact that it’s a hub for them. To put it as their statement, “We must stick around these court offices, else who will give us the work?” An organisation called the High Court Freelance Typist Association used to protect the right of these typists for which the internal politics resulted in dissolution 15 years ago. However, ending of the official association didn’t break their unity and now they work in the direction of being settles avoiding outsiders to enter their domain. They proudly claim, ‘We do what the computer people can’t’.

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Somenath Adhikary, a lawyer described their importance as, “Earlier we had shorthand professionals and we could dictate the text and get them typed later. Now good shorthand writers are not available so we have to make do with hurriedly written notes that turn out to be quite illegible at some point,” he explains. These typists, having worked with us for so long, know our handwriting; they can figure out the letters and the strokes. They have also learned a lot about the vocabularies we use, the sentences we frame. So when they turn in a typed document on the basis of our scanty and handwritten notes, the typed sheet looks neat and perfect. They make our jobs so much easier.”

These typists do not go through an easy life and they travel long distances from home to work. They rent a space to keep their assets safe overnight. What they give the world are not just inked words on a white paper, but they tell how a tradition can never be escaped, by keeping it alive.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Its really awesome that someone uses typewriter in now days. One should use it often.

  • AJ Krish

    Leaving behind socially accepted jobs, these people follow their passion. They have sacrificed many things to keep the typewriter alive.

  • Aayush Anand

    Using typewriter in 2016 may be romantic but is
    definitely not the most efficient method available today.

  • Aparna Gupta

    Its really awesome that someone uses typewriter in now days. One should use it often.

  • AJ Krish

    Leaving behind socially accepted jobs, these people follow their passion. They have sacrificed many things to keep the typewriter alive.

  • Aayush Anand

    Using typewriter in 2016 may be romantic but is
    definitely not the most efficient method available today.

Next Story

10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.