Twp bibliophiles from Odisha, Satabdi Mishra and Akshaya Rautaray first met each other in a bookstore in Bhubaneswar, a few years back. Starting with a discussion on different books, reading habits and accessibility of books in different parts in India, they finally ended up by travelling to different parts of Odisha and then to different parts in India, with an aim in their hearts to make books available to all, reported Hindustan Times.
Second time travelling pan India
In 2018, the duo has once again set off on a pan-India tour. This time the title of their tour is ‘Poems on the Road’. As the name suggests, this time they have arranged for open mic poetry session. Anyone can recite any poem, in any language, in addition to reading and buying books. They have also arranged for certificates for the participants, reported the Times Of India. Their aim is to cover 20 states, 30 cities and to travel 10,000 km. They started their journey on 13th December 2018 in Bhubaneswar and they want to bring an end to it on 13th February 2019 at Kolkata. Reportedly, their poetry van features a hand-picked collection of around 500 titles. They have already covered many cities and have got a positive response from the people. They set foot in Bengaluru on 28th December 2018.
To fulfill their cherished dream, they started off with their journey to the tribal areas of Koraput in Odisha in the year 2014. As they felt that there was a lack of bookshops and libraries in remote parts of India, they collected books in their backpacks and went off to small towns and villages and sold the books at footpaths or bus stops. Reportedly, Satabdi had said that they carried books in bags to remote villages where people had no access to reading.
Bibliophiles embark on a unique journey
Being moved by the keen interest of the people of Koraput, they decided to reach out to the people of each and every district of Odisha. Understanding the difficulty of carrying books on backpacks to so many places, Akshaya and Satabdi bought a second-hand Omni van. Many of their friends came forward to help them buy the car. This marked the beginning of their travelling bookshop and library-Walking Book Fairs. The duo reportedly went to all the 30 districts of Odisha, while covering a distance of 10,000 kilometres.
The next stepping stone for them was setting up a physical bookstore in Bhubaneswar in 2015. After improvisation of their van, they decided to take a tour so as to reach out to people all over India. Thus, began their tour, ‘Read More India’ in December 2015. They started from Bhubaneswar and went across 20 states all over India. They stopped at different public spaces and opened their truck loaded with books for the public to browse and read books free of cost and also to buy books at a discounted rate.
In their journey for such a golden cause, they had to face some hurdles. They observed that people nowadays were more interested in textbooks than on story books. This seemed to be a hurdle in their path. This was coupled with the problem of lack of funds. According to the two, reading not just provides us with pleasure, it also broadens our minds and enlightens us by creating deeper insights on different subjects.
Walking Book Fair is the first travelling library cum bookstore in India. It is really appreciable for the two, Satabdi and Akshaya to take up such a noble cause of reaching out to all and making books available to all,so as to bring in peace and love in our country.