Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30

Nitin B | The News Minute | March 7, 2015 | 3:10 pm IST

"So, what do you think?" a beaming man asks me as he shows me his "Topudu Bandi", the Telugu word for pushcart, and a neat little one at that. One could almost mistake it for a vegetable selling cart if seen empty, but Sheik Sadiq Ali's pushcart sells Telugu poetry.

Fifty-year-old Sadiq's “verse on wheels” idea has grabbed the attention of many people as he chooses an area in Hyderabad each day and pushes his cart around selling poetry books.

I find him in the Nizam College grounds, where he is selling poetry books in a mini book fair setting. "They liked my idea and invited me over here. I grew up reading poetry and my main aim is to get more people to read poetry. Especially the younger generation" says the Telugu literature post-graduate.

The cart is quite a sight with pictures of famous Telugu poets like Sri Sri, Arudra and Maqdoom Mohinuddin adorning one side and people old and young gathering around as their curiosity is aroused.

Topudu Bandi 4

"The three main Telugu book publications in the city turn down poets on the basis that nobody reads poetry anymore. We thought we'll give it a shot and see if there is a market for Telugu poets today and it turns out there was a large one." says Aravind Kumar, Sadiq's friend who is helping him out at the venue.

"I was a former journalist myself, with a few Telugu media and television channels and then freelancing for a while before I ultimately settled down and set up a marriage bureau. However I hardly visit the office anymore. This cart has become a full time thing" says a smiling Sadiq.

A native of Kalluru in Khammam district, he started publicizing his idea through social media, especially Facebook, with the cart having its own page.

"We had first put up a stall in a Hyderabad exhibition and the books sold out. Then we experimented in Vijayawada and it turned out to be a bigger hit." Sadiq says.

Topudu Bandi 1

The mobile poetry shop which started on February 22 has been on the road in the city for two weeks now. Within days, Telugu poets across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana noticed the shop and began to send their books to Ali. He now has close to 150 poetry titles to sell. "I sell books worth at least Rs 10,000 every day, which is a real surprise to me as I never thought so many people were interested." he adds.

Though he doesn't have a shortage of resources to start an air conditioned shop somewhere in the heart of the city, he decided to use a push-cart in the scorching heat to stay more connected to the people.

"I'm not doing this for the money. Each book costs around 100, some even lesser. They are really good quality and priced low so that more people will pick them up."

Sadiq hopes to continue with the thopudu bandi for as long as he can. "My main aim is to get more people to read. I hope people sell more poetry books in the two Telugu speaking states.” he adds.

Topudu Bandi 3

Sadiq has even started sending some books through post and can be contacted through the Facebook page for the push cart here .

(All images taken by The News Minute's Nitin B)

 

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