The art of reading and writing is getting lost in today’s technologically advanced epoch. The evolution of technology has reached a point where pretty much anything and everything is available at the touch of a button. Recent studies have found that the percentage of children who read ebooks has nearly doubled since 2010. In this digital age, 20-year- old Rubhen D 'sa has decided to travel around India, collect books from everyone he meets and by the end of his journey, intends to set up a free public library with all the collected books.
Born in a humble Anglo-Indian family in Mangalore, Rubhen's family migrated to Delhi when he was two. He loves Delhi more than any other city. “I cannot stay anywhere else. The metropolis is my passion and motivates me to write,” he says proudly with firm conviction. He is at present in the second year of graduation at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce.
Rubhen's life suffered a jolt when he was just 14: His father committed suicide. The incident taught him never to take anything for granted. He learnt to be strong and responsible. A school topper, Rubhen's first love is travel. Rubhen is an ardent Batman fan and asks, "Why do we fall, Bruce?" almost every time when he seems to lose out in life.
Rubhen's book sojourn is named Musaafir Hun Yaaron and commences on 8 June with the first stop being Nainital. Rubhen is accompanied by a friend Nikhil who studies in Chennai. He is going to be hosted by friends, most of whom he has made through his earlier travel adventures. His next stops would be Dehradun, Mussoorie, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Then he plans to move eastwards to Kolkata and wrap up the first leg by 25 June after visiting Mumbai and Varanasi.
Rubhen is also a passionate poet. In an attempt to keep alive the tradition of writing letters and receiving them through posts, he created Taameer, a social enterprise. Taameer strives to amalgamate art with a social purpose. The group visits old-age homes and dog shelters and came up with the idea of writing letters to strangers across the country to make them smile. The topics ranged from motivational thoughts to addressing personal problems and was titled Paigaam@Taameer. Speaking on Ruben, his friend Bhavya describes him as an "artivist"; as he is both an activist and artist. "Rubhen is always there to help others. He always challenges norms and tries to set a new bar for himself with every breath."
With "Musafir Hun Yaaron"; he wishes to quench his thirst of travelling and also spread love and community development. Along the way, he would be collecting books from strangers, acquaintances and friends. He would be travelling with no fixed plans or itinerary, no bookings and no tickets. Along the way, he plans to ask every stranger he meets, everyone who hosts him and gives a tour of the city, to donate a book. The books can be of any language and genre. With every book, he would be attaching personal notes on how he met the contributor, how they look, what they do, what the book means to them, and his other personal observations.
"In other words, people are contributing towards a library of their own stories," D’sa says. On being asked what motivated him to undertake this mission, he replies that over the last one year, he made various short trips all over India and realised there is something to learn from every one and every place.
"I love spending time with nature and strangers. I sometimes board the Delhi Metro, get down at a random station and explore the area while walking. I thought if I can get books from all over India, the library would be a melting pot of cultures and regional histories," Rubhen adds. He is now firmly set on his goal as he firmly believes, "There is nothing more pleasing than sharing happiness." Bon voyage!