Over half a dozen old men, aged between 50 and 70, were busy with their work on a bylane in Jayanagar, 3rd Block, Bangalore, even as people passed by without even caring to look at them. Their quick fingers caught my interest.

Muneer Ahmed
61-year-old Muneer Ahmed busy with his typewriter on a busy lane in Bangalore.

"What do you want son?" asked one of the old men, who were busy working on their typewriters that looked as old as their age. "I find your work interesting. It's been a long time since I last saw someone working on manual typewriters," I told him.

"Nobody cares for this 'art' these days. It's a dying profession," he said.

Muneer Ahmed, 61, has been working as a typist for about 20 years and the typewriter he works on is 12 years old. His fingers move quickly though the keys are stiff, pulling out whitener once in a while to conceal the typing mistakes. He said it is a reflex through years of experience that they are able to avoid typographical errors.

"But why do people still come to them when they can do everything on computers?" I thought.

"People still come to us because typing on a manual typewriter is comparatively better. Moreover, computer operators are not that literate and often make spelling mistakes. Most of them don't know how to draft an ordinary letter," reasons Ahmed, who is also an advocate.

He added that they fare better than the present generation when it comes to drafting documents like rental agreements, lease agreements, deeds of relinquishment, affidavits, no objection letters, tender forms and other documents.

One of the typists said that people still come to them as certain envelops and small postal covers cannot be typed on computer.

Just when I was about to leave, Aman Prasad, a 28-year-old man, came to collect the document he had ordered. On being asked why he preferred the typewritten one when he could get it done by a computer operator, he said, "I need a document urgently. Typing on computer and getting the printout takes time. So, I decided to go for typewritten one."

For Ahmed and his colleagues, it is business and they earn around Rs. 300 to 350 per day. He said that it's more than a passion, as he works to keep his family going.

It won't be long before this "art" dies a slow death.

"The institutes that were imparting typing training have been closed as no one is interested in learning the art of typing. It is time to bid adieu to the 'art'," lamented Ahmed.

Yes, soon we will see typewriters only in museums and not on busy bylanes.