Card image cap

Tiny Wooden Wheels, New Discovery For The Indian Highways.

Published on: Saturday, 11th September 2010 08:49 AM     By      Administrator

You play with what you see, and this is what children see.

For 17 years, the former furniture maker has been selling his diminutive wooden wares along the roadside, carefully arranged in lines, orderly, never honking or cutting each other off, in contrast to the real versions rumbling by a few feet away.

Over those years, the town of Dhanaula became locally famous for the brightly painted toys, and soon shopkeepers started coming from miles around to buy wholesale.

"Chinese toys have cheap electronics that break within a few days," says Gurpreet Singh Bagga, who buys for his shop 50 miles away. "And it's good to have things made in India for Indians. People get jobs."

As business grew, the 32-year-old Singh drew in his family members, employing his brother to cut the wood, his wife to sand and buff, his children to paint, producing an average of five a day. "It's good — now the family can work together," he says.

He even got his father to leave his day-laborer job and become chief salesman, although truth be told, he's no Dale Carnegie, never suggesting the customer buy a second one, take the more expensive one, consider starting a collection.

Singh is part of a long tradition of Indian toy makers, some of whom have passed on their craft from generation to generation. Archaeological evidence records ingenious Indus Valley playthings dating back 5,000 years.

One of India's most famous toys, ordered by an 18th century king, Tipu Sultan, and now in London's Victoria and Albert Museum, features an almost life-size mechanical wooden tiger mauling a British soldier. The sultan, who was no fan of the British colonizers, designed it so that when a small crank is turned, it emits a roar, and then the sound of a (British) moan as the soldier's hand covers his mouth.

As potential customers slow down for a look, Singh says, he'll size them up. If they're in a posh Mercedes and don't know the value of a rupee, he'll add a little onto the price, up to 50% on the toys, which sell from $1.50 to $6. Occasionally, a high-end collector will request a special-order model with plush seats and working doors, which he'll sell for upward of $60.

Most of his customers see his wares on the roadside and stop for an impulse buy. His best allies are children, who make such a ruckus the parents are forced to turn back. Two kids in the car, even better for him, especially if the parents don't want to suffer miles of backseat fighting.

"He'd rather play with anything but trucks," he says. "He sees so many of them, he gets sick of them." - United States's No 1 Indian Community Portal
Top Indian Events, Classifieds, Indian Restaurants,  Online Radios and Much More