Carpenter Dhani Ram Saggu lost his livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic. To survive the lockdown, he picked up some spare parts and raw materials lying around his house and made a wooden bicycle. But little did Dhani Ram know that the lockdown would have a positive impact on him and earn him recognition as well as good fortune.
When the lockdown started in March, the 40-year-old, who lives in a small town of Zirakhpur in Punjab's Chandigarh, lost all his business. His shop called 'Noora Interiors' which mostly deals with crafting doors, cupboards, shelves in 'kothis' (palatial buildings) was completely shut and he was left with no work.
Therefore, he decided to make his lockdown days more productive, nurture some new skills and come up with something unique in composition and style. Saggu wanted to engage himself in some kind of work that will not only keep him occupied but also help him to regain his livelihood.
"When the lockdown was announced, most of the people lost their jobs and the world came to a standstill. I heard so many suicide cases throughout which made me quite depressed and confused with life, but then I thought that I should keep myself busy and stop getting carried away by these incidents. Kyu apna dimaag kharab karna, kyun na yeh dimaag kisi kaam pe lagaya jaaye (why should I waste my time and mind thinking about all this; rather I should focus my mind on something creative)," Dhani Ram Saggu told The Logical Indian.
"I am a carpenter by profession and I am into this business for more than 25 years. I usually get orders for making cupboards, windows, doors and other wooden items but I had never made a bicycle before. However, I have seen some of my mechanic friends framing it. So during this lockdown, I thought of trying something new," he said.
People were already familiar with the regular bicycles available in the market made of steel and alloy but Dhani Ram wanted to make something unique and quirky. This made him ideate a refreshing spin-off to the regular cycle and craft a wooden cycle which was not easily available in the Indian market.
"In my first attempt, I decided to try my hands at it using regular household tools that were available like spare plywood and some old cycles. I was sceptical in the beginning thinking that whether it's even possible for me to make. Luckily, I was 50% successful in my first attempt. So I bought an old cycle, took out all its parts and attached them to the wooden frame but the cycle was difficult to move because of the heavy plywood. It was also not very comfortable," Dhani Ram said.
"So I procured some Canadian wood which is a local type of wood available here and tried to work on it. I also bought new wheels and brakes and attached them to the wooden form. I was 75 per cent successful in it. Then I further modified it by adding mudguards to the wheels and a basket in the front which made it more comfortable and made the cycle move smoothly. Finally, I was 100% successful in my attempt," he added.
Dhani Ram's handcrafted wooden cycles are all over social media. He feels fortunate for receiving so much of love and recognition for his efforts. He even received a call from the Managing Director of Hero Cycles, Pankaj Munjal, who congratulated him and praised him for his unique efforts of making an eco-friendly wooden cycle.
"I am a poor man. I live in a small village and come from a lower-middle-class background. I feel humbled and fortunate for getting so much appreciation and acceptance from people. This wooden cycle changed my fortune," he said.
It took him almost four months to complete the model but his hard work was all worth it when he started getting calls for orders almost on a daily basis not only from India, but also from abroad. Today, Saggu said that he had already sold 8-10 of his cycles and has 8-10 more orders to be delivered.
"I have been receiving orders from Moga, Punjab, Jalandhar, Gobindgarh, Delhi, Gujarat and Chennai. Initially, the orders were from these states only but I was surprised when I received orders from across the country as well. Till now, I have received orders from Canada and South Africa," Dhani Ram added.
He also saidthat a person can travel up to 25-30 kilometres a day on the cycle and since it is also water-proof, it would not be a problem for the rider to travel during the rainy season. Dhani Ram's wooden cycles cost ₹15,000 and he also customises them according to the preferences of the buyer. However, the delivery charges, transport costs, courier costs or any customisation charges are to be borne by the customer.
Dhani Ram Saggu plans to modify these cycles, add more features, and improve their quality in future to make them more attractive, comfortable and rider-friendly for the customers. He has arranged for some workshops in Punjab to speak about his work and know about people's preferences and experience. "I have arranged for a workshop in Punjab for the first time and if this goes successfully then I would like to organise more such workshops in other states as well," Saggu said.
If you want to purchase Dhani Ram's beautiful handmade cycles and want more details about it, you can call him and place an order at 7087697652.