I have been running this book binding shop in Malleswaram 15th cross for the last eight years. Earlier I was a tailor, but that didn’t really agree with me. Suddenly there was a spurt of tailors, and for every gully there were three tailors! Too much competition. So I moved on to this business.

Me and my brother run this place. We do all kinds of binding – hard binding, soft binding, spiral, full calico or Rexene binding (used to cover diaries), stitching…actually March is a busy time when school students bring in their frayed or torn books and have them repaired before exams. Old favourite storybooks also come in. Customers ask for their bank challan books to be bound; we have many repeat customers

Photocopy shops and some offices are our regular customers. They call us up and we go pick up photocopied textbooks or office voucher books for binding. For offices, it takes me about five days to do nearly 15 books each day.

Libraries are our other customers. They come to get old tattered and dog-eared books re-bound, or new ones bound before lending them. Everybody says people read less and such things, but I don’t think so.

But what will I do in my hometown Vijayapura, which is near Devanahalli? Though it’s near the new airport, not much development has happened. We don’t have regular water or electricity supply. My older brother works on someone else’s farm. I never learnt farm work. We don’t have agricultural land of our own. I studied till Class 9 but I wasn’t interested in studying, and I failed in some subjects so I didn’t want to continue. Till I was in Class 9, I would work during summer holidays in the silk worm industry in Vijayapura …but now even that business is dull. So I decided to get away from there. I am now 33 years old. My mother and brother still live there. Since one of my brothers was already a tailor I trained with him and learnt on the job.

These days even the binding business has been dull, specially compared to living costs in a city like Bangalore. Life has become difficult; I have to pay my rent on this place too. Half the money I earn, I have to spend on buying the raw material – the binding cardboards, sheets etc. Then there is competition from other binders, but at least none of them are nearby.

I now live in R.T.Nagar with my wife. I travel everyday by bicycle. It also keeps me healthy. Traffic has gotten worse over the years, but I leave early and go back late, when traffic is not too bad. And I know some good shortcuts.

(I AM features men and women who make Bangalore what it is)