Published: 21st August 2019
Armed with a 100-year-old typewriter, Drishti Nagda is typing heartfelt messages for strangers in Hyderabad
This 23-year-old from Hyderabad helps strangers to open up to her and then she pens down a note for them — and the impact that she is having is immense
In the era of instant messages, WhatsApp and people stuck to their phones even when they are with another person, the ability to strike a conversation face-to-face seems to be lacking in today's world. However, there are some who still believe in the old school way of communicating with people. One such person is this 23-year-old from Hyderabad who can be seen writing messages of hope to strangers at cafés and other public locations in the city with a tool from another era — she types the messages on a 100-year-old typewriter!
A final year student of Applied Linguistics at the University of Hyderabad, Drishti Nagda, started her stint with the typewriter in March 2018. What Drishti technically comes under the ambit of busking, which means the activity of playing music, performing, writing, creating art in the street or another public place for voluntary donations. Drishti, however does this as a hobby and not for monetary gain. "I met someone from BLR Busking, a popular busking group in Bengaluru. The woman I met had been doing this in Bengaluru for quite sometime. We sat down and discussed it in detail. The modern form of busking is not ingenious to the country or very well-known here. The idea amazed me and I figured it will be something very interesting to do. So, I took the leap," explains the 23-year-old.
How did it all start? For this 23-year-old, a misfortune was a blessing in disguise. Drishti's tryst with the typewriter began a year ago when she fractured her hand and was unable to write and it kept her at home. While recovering she had ample time to write and think this through. She has always been passionate about poetry and it was during this period that she stumbled upon her grandfather’s 100-year-old typewriter in the attic. It is one of the first Remington Black models. "All of this was not planned. This was something I fell in love with and just kept doing," exclaims the youngster.
Her knight in shining armour: For this 23-year-old, a misfortune was a blessing in disguise. Drishti's tryst with the typewriter began a year ago when she fractured her hand
Armed with her typewriter, which is her favourite companion, Drishti chooses event spaces sometimes along with music, other public spaces like cafes, restaurants and where a lot of the cultural performances take place as her space to interact with strangers and pen down short, crisp notes for them.
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. On the typewriter, once you type it out you can't go back, it gives me an opportunity to produce good content in a limited amount of space and time," says Drishti.
The young writer says that she pens down letters, poems or sometimes only a few words of encouragement depending on what people ask for. "I have a few different methods when I write for strangers — one of it is talking to them and selecting excerpts from that and writing for those moments, and the other is when people want letters written for somebody else, they tell me what they want written and how the receiver is and then I write it for them," she explains.
She recalls numerous happy encounters over the past few months. "I remember the first time I did this was at a dog park. Every Sunday there's this place called Necklace Road in the city, that's where I first took my typewriter to and wrote notes for strangers. A kid had come up to me and asked me to write a letter for his dog. There was this one time, I took my typewriter out to a cancer prevention convention happening in the city, I didn't really know how to talk to people, how to get people interested in the busking scene then. But luckily for me, one lady likely in her 50s, who was a cancer survivor, asked me if I could write something for her son and daughter. She just told me a few words on how life goes on even if she's not around and I ended up writing two of those letters. She cried for five whole minutes after reading both the letters. That made me realise how often people are not able to say what they want to and how this is a great medium to express themselves. There have been times when people told me that they are not very expressive and they would want to tell their spouses that they love them. It's nice to have somebody come to you and ask you to write something that they feel. All of this inspired me so much that I just kept doing this," she says.
Happy place: The young writer says that she pens down letters, poems or sometimes only a few words of encouragement depending on what people ask for
Drishti says that she would love to have people around her be a part this. "I would continue this but not on a professional level, I want it to be a hobby and keep it to myself," she adds. The writer, who was also the mind behind the Hyderabad Poetry Project, says that she will not let busking lose its steam. "Poetry has become a rarity in my life, I don't get time to write because I am so caught up with organising events. I don't want that to happen to my typewriter, I want to do this for myself every now and then," she concludes.