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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.

SHARE
  • 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

All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.