Odia couple on a mission to promote reading habits

ENARADA, Bengaluru, January 14, 2015

With reading habits decreasing at a faster pace, a couple from Odisha are on an all India trip to promote reading habbits in a unique style.

They have customised a mini truck that is passing across the country, with a message of loving books. The ‘mobile library’ has around 4,000 English books from different genres stacked in makeshift shelves in the truck’s rear end and was camping in Bengaluru on Wednesday and Thursday.

The collection includes fiction, bestsellers and classics. The tour is supported by publishers like Harper Collins India, Pan Macmillan India and Paragon Publishing India. Children’s author Ruskin Bond who is also a brand ambassador for KIIT International  school, has visited their Omni van twice in Bhubaneswar, congratulating the duo on their initiative. Even author Manoj Das has interacted with them.  Anyone can stop by, read a book and even buy it. The unique project has been kick started by Odisha-based couple-Akshaya Rautaray , 35, and Satabdi Mishra, 32, who own a book store in Odisha

So, why did the couple start this idea?

While travelling in Odisha last year, the couple noticed the lack of reading habits and community libraries in Odisha. “Initially, we would backpack across villages, carrying as many books as possible. At every stopover, we would lay down all the books and curious kids and adults would gather around them, flip the pages and even read some,“ said Akshaya.

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A mini truck customised as a ‘library on wheels’ had a stoppage in Bengaluru on January 13 & 14 as part of its Bharat Darshan to promote reading habits. Photos by WWW.ENARADA.COM

With the purpose of creating more reading spaces and promoting the reading habit in remote areas, the duo started their venture, Walking Book Fairs, in April 2014. “We didn’t have a vehicle at that time so we carried books manually .With the help of some friends and a bank loan, we bought a second-hand Omni van and covered all the 30 districts of Odisha,“ said Satabdi.

Encouraged by the response they got, the duo decided to embark on a pan-India tour. In December, they bought a truck and customized it to accommodate around 4,000 books. With Satabdi behind the wheel, they left Odisha on December 15, determined to cover 20 states in 90 days. Their journey has taken them to cities and villages -they have stopped at schools, colleges and even footpaths. The bibliophiles have covered Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They fondly recollected how an elderly person in Telangana thanked them profusely for bringing books to him. “Some of the onlookers were so fascinated by our collection that they invited us to their houses. We often stayed with families who craved for books but didn’t have access to them,“ said Akshaya.

Well known writer Asha Nehemiah too was impressed by the ‘moving library’ and was at Brigade road to pick bookS of her choice.

Speaking to Enarada.com, Satabdi said after their stopover in Bengaluru, they will be heading to their stoppage-Goa  via Chitradurga.


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