Tuesday, March 17, 2015

With World Cup fever on, these bats are selling like hot cakes

Few can miss the sight of cricket bats arranged on the footpath of Dr. Nelson Mandela Road in Bannimantap, near the arch gate entrance to Bal Bhavan.

Many passers-by, particularly cricket-crazy youngsters, stop by, hold the bats by the rubber grip on the handle and swing them for the kick of it. For prices ranging from Rs. 50 to Rs. 250 depending on the size, these hand-made bats made out of locally-available wood are preferred by many youth for their light weight.

A group of artisans from Anand in Gujarat make their annual visit to the city to make and sell these bats to wannabe cricketers. “We make a trip once a year before the onset of summer and stay put for around five to six months to make and sell these bats,” said Rajesh, who was selling the bats on Sunday.

Though he dropped out of school after eighth standard, Rajesh is updated about the progress of matches at the ongoing Cricket World Cup. “On an average week, all of us put together manage to sell around 40 to 50 bats, which are made out of neem tree wood. During vacations, we may sell more,” he said.

Fellow artisan Ganga said her husband procures wood locally and makes the bats, while she and her mother Savitha, who was polishing the bats with a brush, sell them. “Back in Gujarat, we make tables, chairs and other furniture items,” she said.

The artisans, some accompanied by young children, are staying in sheds behind the highway to Bengaluru on a rent of Rs. 1,000 per month. Ganga said her son Deepak, who studies in a school in Gujarat, misses classes when they are here.

“The school-going children of artisans are generally left behind in Gujarat with their grandparents. But, if the grandparents also come, the children can’t be left behind. They will, however, resume classes on their return,” Rajesh added.

Meanwhile, the World Cup and approaching vacations appear to have spurred the sales of cricket bats. “I have been buying one bat a year from them for the last three years. It is lighter than the branded bats made in factories and sold in stores,” said Ahmed, a high school student.

“The bat I bought two years ago is still good enough to play. Only, I have grown taller. But, the bat I bought three years ago turned out to be made of hollow wood and broke within a week. I only hope this bat lasts long enough,” Ahmed added.
source: thehindu