Souvenirs and Nukkad

A successful woman farmer from Rajasthan, a Pune-based couple narrating India's stories through souvenirs and merchandise, an engineer who set up a cafe to help others are part of our weekly newsletter. And don't miss the floating islands of Loktak Lake

Rashmi Pratap
New Update
Souvenirs and Nukkad. Pic: Indic Inspiration

Souvenirs and Nukkad. Pic: Indic Inspirations

Dear Reader,

India is a land of myths and stories. The stories of Panchatantra, the story of Shunya or zero, the success stories of our space missions, the (hi)story of our crafts and performing arts and the list can go on. Yet, foreign tourists mostly carry tiny replicas of our historical monuments as souvenirs. 

To make available India’s history, crafts and scientific achievements as collectables and souvenirs, Pune-based Padmaja and Sunil Jalihal launched their cultural startup Indic Inspirations in December 2019. It works with 450 artisans practising 55 crafts across India. They make products based on crafts like Jaipur’s blue pottery, Karnataka’s soapstone carving, Varanasi’s woodcraft, bamboo products of the Northeast etc.

The items are not limited to stationary and home décor. From kitchenware to board games and desktop products to DIY kits, Indic Inspirations is creating mini India stories in multiple categories. The startup is set to clock Rs6 crore in revenues this fiscal. How? The story has the details.

Our other very inspiring story this week is from Chhattisgarh. My colleague Bilal spoke to Priyank Patel, an electronics engineer who quit his job to start a café. No, he did not want to be a restaurateur. He zeroed in on this business so that he could provide employment with dignity to people who are deaf, of short stature and transgender. 

From one small outlet of Nukkad Café in Raipur, Priyank has expanded to five cafés and 70 percent of his staff is either specially-abled or transgender. Apart from their monthly salary, the staff members are given free food, accommodation and insurance benefits. Most importantly, it is the respect and dignity that make working at Nukkad Café meaningful and fun for these employees. 

Sometimes our education and experiences are just a way of preparing us for life’s bigger purpose. Priyank, the engineer, found his purpose in Nukkad Café. 

Last week, I spoke to Rubi Pareek, a woman farmer from Rajasthan’s Dausa district. She lost her father when she was just one year old, could not study after class 10 and was married at 19. But that did not deter her from acquiring knowledge.

Rubi learned about farming from her husband Om Prakash, who belonged to an agriculturist family. She then learned about organic farming, underwent training and requested her father-in-law to let her experiment on a small patch of land. Over time, Rubi converted her family’s 12 acres of chemical-based and loss-making land into a profitable organic farm.

In the last 16 years, she has trained over 15,000 people in organic farming for free. She makes vermicompost and Azolla fern on the farm for sale and own use, has orchards, grows grains and does a lot more. Hard work and dedication can, many times, overcome the lack of education.

Our Sunday story is on islands that float on the Loktak Lake in Manipur. More importantly, people live in huts made on these floating islands. Locally called Phumdis, the islands move up and down with changes in the lake’s water levels while people continue to live in the huts! 

In the Money section, Karan has written why gold is set to give better returns than equities this year. Already, in the last two years, gold prices are up nearly 30 percent cumulatively compared to a 13 percent rise in the BSE Sensex. So buy that gold jewellery before prices go up!

Happy Reading!





Pune couple’s startup tells India’s stories through souvenirs and gifts, set to clock Rs6 crore revenues this year


How this Chhattisgarh engineer’s inclusive café chain is breaking stereotypes


Rajasthan’s 10th pass woman converts family land into a profitable organic farm; gives free training to farmers