A lonely battle for typewriters

Forgotten relic
Last Updated 24 December 2013, 14:01 IST

Before there were computers, typewriters used to rule the offices and other administrative departments. But, now the much loved gadget has become a thing of the past, struggling bravely for survival. 

But, in an era where laptops, smart phones and tablets have taken over, there are only a few people who seem to turn to this device, thus giving the well-used Remington a kiss of life. Jagdish Dhawan is one of them.  He holds typing and stenography classes, at his shop, Punjab Commercial College in Mehar Chand Market in Lodhi Road, which aspiring stenographers and those aiming to hone their typing skills frequent. Jagdish who has been running this establishment since 1955 has been doing his bit to restore the  ‘lost charm’ of the once indispensable typewriter. 

Mehar Chand Market which was once a complex only for tailors and now a hub for fashion designers and high-end stores, has held fort against all odds and is imparting typing skills to more than 30 students. 

Talking to Metrolife, Jagdish who took over the shop after his father’s death, Late S R Dhawan, says, “Typewriter has and will always be an object of nostalgia. Although, there is hardly anyone left who is using it nowadays. Bus, yeh dukaan hai to thoda bahut hamara kaam chal raha hai.”

One of the factors that is leading to typewriter’s demise are a lack of mechanics. “One can find hundreds of service centres for laptops but there is no mechanic for repairing a typewriter. This is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t use typewriters anymore.”

For a two-month course, Jagdish charges Rs 400 per month for an hour each day from his students. But, who are these students? They are a motley group of individuals learning typing for Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and other government exams, where typing speed is one of the selection criterions.

“Bachche to bas speed badane ke liye hi aate hain apne exams ke liye. Nahi toh woh jinko stenography sikhna hai. Other than this, no one is really interested in learning to work on the typewriter anymore. And soon it will vanish from everywhere. They don’t have a long life now,” adds Jagdish.
According to the shop owner, Remington company was the first one to manufacture typewriters but soon Godrej followed them. But now only Godrej-manufactured models are available in the market which cost around Rs 10, 000 – 11, 000. Looking many years back, in 1950 a Remington typewriter used to cost merely Rs 300. 

Recollecting his fond memories attached to typewriters, Jagdish says, “Earlier typewriters used to be very different, but now the designs have changed. They used to be quite heavy but now they are quite light. I have just one or two old models left, rest are new ones. But, soon they will be termed as ‘antiques’.”

Delving deep into ‘typewriter talk’, Jagdish mentions about the minimum typing speed: The best speed is 40 words per minute and normal is 30-35 words per minute. Bhupen Tiwari, one of Punjab Commercial College’s dedicated student, says, “I come here to increase my typing speed for my SSC exams, otherwise I wouldn’t have learnt it. I have been coming here for two months and will need another month to polish my typing speed, so I can qualify in the exams.”

(Published 24 December 2013, 13:59 IST)

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