India's street typists: a vanishing breed


India's street typists -- skilled professionals who type documents for passersby who need formal paperwork for official purposes -- are in great financial difficulty. Their trade has been largely supplanted by computers with word-processors. Even the love-sick young men who would come to them to type out love letters have moved on. The BBC profiles the street typists of Calcutta, in a piece steeped with melancholy at a world that has moved on.

Ajay took the job because he could find no other work. He says he would not advise anyone to follow his example.

"There are only old men here now. There are no youngsters here."

"I even told my son not to join this profession as it is difficult to make a living on the streets now."

It is time for him to go home after another largely fruitless day.

As I walk away he shouts out: "Come and see me soon. I and my friends may not be here for much longer."

India's street typists heading for a final full-stop [Rahul Tandon/BBC]

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  1. When I was in Moshi, Tanzania, I was struck by how many people there were on the sidewalk with a sewing machine offering on the spot clothing repairs and tailoring. Most everybody I saw in town and in rural areas wore clothes typical of the developed world but I guess they keep those clothes in repair rather than be part of the throw away and replace new cycle. Wonder how much longer that's going to last.

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