* Soumya Jyoti Pratihari
Yeah! You heard it right. Books on wheels!
A truck full of books will travel across 20 states of the country for a stretch of 10000 kms. That’s what a couple from Bhubaneswar are out for.
Meet Akshay Routray and Shatabdi Mishra. A bibliophile couple, who wants to spread the habit of book reading.
The journey had started two years ago when they renovated an old Maruti Omni ambulance and packed it with books and went out for a journey across the state. The couple is a rare breed that has covered 10000 kilometres in Odisha as well. Earlier, the travel covered every part of the state including Mayurbhanj and Koraput and this time its pan India. And that too on a brand new customised book truck.
The couple are avid book lovers and both share the passion for books. While Akshay quit his job in a publishing house, Shatabdi quit a career in marketing to pursue their passion- books.
Akshay says that everything is getting digital these days. But that access to the digital world is almost impossible for a tribal child in Koraput or Malkanagiri. We as a developing country are marching towards digitalisation but we haven’t taken into consideration the fact that there are a lot of people who have been deprived of books and education. And if we don’t take them along, the gap will widen further.
There are villages without electricity and water and for villages like this digitisation will have almost no impact. That’s why they set out on a mission to spread literacy. They want books to be accessible to all.
Books, of late, have become costly and people have accepted it as stuff for the elite class. Walking BookFairs, as they call their mobile store, offers a discount of 20% on all their books all through the year.
This is a deal, not many book sellers provide round the year. This is their maiden all India trip and they will cover almost all the states of India.
The first stretch of the journey would cover Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa. In the second leg, they would move to Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra and in third phase they would travel from Gujarat to Delhi through Rajasthan. The descend will also see some states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The WBF is a mission to make books accessible to all.
*The author is a professional blogger.