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How One Illiterate Man Is Helping Students through His Roadside Book Store

A story of an ordinary man with a simple dream and his own brand of creativity. Meet Dilipbhai Pujaram Patil, who has been bringing knowledge in the lives of hundreds of students through his roadside book store.

On the busy road of SSG hospital in Vadodara, one would find an interesting and unique bus stop. It is cleaner than most bus stops, it’s exquisitely painted, and it has books. Yes, books!

It has novels, magazines, newspapers and books on every genre and subject one could think of.

As I look around, Dilipbhai Pujaram Patil greets me with a warm smile. And as I start conversing with him, I realize there is as much to learn from this man as from the books that are lying all around us.

Dilipbhai Pujaram is illiterate but he is helping hundreds of students with his book store.

He recalls and smiles as he tells me about the first time he ever went to sell ‘life magazines’ on a cycle and made a profit of Rs. 300.

That was then. Now, it has been 22 years he has been selling these bundles of knowledge.

Dilipbhai used to sit near the fine arts college for many years and was extremely popular among students there before he was forced to shift by the parking officials. He then started the ‘Urban Bookshelf’ on the road of SSG hospital with the help of a few architecture students.

When I ask him if books interest him, he giggles and then speaks with utmost sincerity, “I am an illiterate. I don’t know anything about reading or writing at all. But I love to help the students in their learning with these books. I always come to their rescue with their assignments and other work.”

Dilipbhai has three sons, two in the eighth grade and the third one is pursuing his masters in science. A sense of happiness and pride flashes in his eyes as he talks about his children.

Other than being at the bookstall from 7 am to 7 pm, Dilipbhai feeds cows every morning before coming to work and feeds dogs after he gets back home. Often, he also helps in serving and feeding people at Parsi Agyaari.

Dilipbhai started the ‘Urban Bookshelf’ on the road of SSG hospital with the help of a few architecture students.

As I leave the place, I wonder how someone who has never read in his entire life can spend a lifetime selling books that enable and encourage others to read.

Contributed by Tarana Emmanuel

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