One such person is this 23-year-old Drishti Nagda from Hyderabad who can be seen writing messages of hope to strangers at cafés and other public locations in the city armed with her beautiful mind and a 100-year-old typewriter to her aid.
Drishti Nagda, goes by the pen name ‘Chai’, a passionate poet and linguistic student at the University of Hyderabad, was introduced to the unique idea of busking a couple of years ago. It was during the phase when she couldn’t write owing to a fracture in her hand and thus decided to give her grandfather’s rusty typewriter a try. The sound of its key hitting against the metal and producing tangible words was an experience unlike any other and Drishti knew that she’d never be able to get over the spell it had cast over her.
Drishti: “My grandfather left me a Remington typewriter made in the US in 1920. It was in use till 1995 and was then packed off for 23 years. But all it took for coming back to life was some oiling. We are writing out personal letters for strangers on postcard-size colour paper pieces, and we don’t charge. If there are donations, we spend the amount received on social causes,”
Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world and dates back to antiquity.
Busking with typewriters, that is, typewriting messages on streets, is quite common abroad, and is slowly picking up pace in India. It involves writing short thank you notes, poems, inspirational one-liners or even a note for the sick – the messages are all bright and positive – on the street.
They were quite a few youngsters like Mishra, RahulKondi, and Harshith, who were doing it from different states. I was very excited by it and given that I had a broken hand it was a nice opportunity for me to try and see if I could do it in Hyderabad.
Taking inspiration from a group of young volunteers in Bengaluru, community organisation Hyderabad Poetry Project (HPP) has started an initiative where letters are typed out on a typewriter dating back almost a century.
With the typewriter as her companion, Drishti chooses public spaces, interacts with strangers and makes them confide their feelings in her.
It is interesting that she uses her poetry to help people send messages.
She explains, “As an introvert child, I used to rad a lot, and as I grew up, I felt the best way to connect people is with poetry and that is one of the reasons I still use poetry as the medium of communication. It makes life so much easy.
As an artist, a lot of us are obsessed with the concept of need to be perfect and at the end of the day you will never find your piece good enough and when we edit it, the lines no longer connect with us.
Why the typewriter? “The beauty of a typewriter is that it has an aesthetic feel to it. As writers, most of us are typically not satisfied with our first drafts, we keep on editing, I wanted to eliminate that process as personally I would never stop editing it. I would never finish.
“Typewriters don’t have backspace. Once a mistake is made, there’s no way you can erase it. It teaches you to think clearly and write correctly”, and also it gives me an opportunity to produce good content in a limited amount of space and time,” says Drishti.
Also the co-founder of the Hyderabad Poetry Project in the city, Drishti says busking is where her heart lies. She does not charge for her work as of now, and even carries around the typewriter in her department at UoH. Because, as Drishti says, there are always people seeking words, words that will bring happiness and spread joy.
A nine-year-old boy wanted to tell his dogs how much they mean to him, and we wrote one letter to each of his pets from him,” Drishti said.
For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org