To restore the memories of the iconic brand Hamara Bajaj, Mehboob Ali, an extraordinarily talented cane and bamboo craftsman from Nalbari district of western Assam, has revived this quintessential Indian brand of the late 20th century and a Bajaj scooter using cane and bamboo.
Mehboob, 30, a resident of Janigog village, has showcased this extraordinary talent in other works as well, such as making a fishing woman with bamboo, etc. Following his father, Saif Ali's footsteps, Mehboob has elevated the art of cane maker to another level.
Hamara Bajaj reinveted in Bamboo
The design of the bamboo Bajaj scooter was initiated by his father. Mehboob carried it forward and they together launched it recently. The first baboo scooter was sold to a handicraft merchant in Guwahati for Rs 45,000, Mehboob said.“My father inspired me. I wanted to deviate from the traditional cane and bamboo craftsmanship to produce things that can draw the attention of one and all and be used,” Mehboob said.
Mehboob crafted the scooter in 15 days with the help of his father. He invested over Rs 20,000 in the process. Prior to crafting the scooter, Mehboob had sold a six-foot-tall fishing woman with cane and bamboo for Rs 35,000 to someone in Goa.
Mehboob Ali at work
His villagers were overwhelmed to see work going all the way to Goa. Now the village youth are planning to build a helicopter that can fly.
The Northeast has tremendous potential in cane and bamboo crafts. Assam and Mizoram in particular are indeed rich in bamboo crafts in tradition. However, very few have adopted craftsmanship in a professional way. The industry is generally followed by the craftsmen as a supportive livelihood in their spare time.
Bamboo utensils, cots, fishing tackles, and other fishing traps, furniture, etc are normally produced in the rural areas of the region and have high demand in almost every rural household. The only tools needed for the handicraft industry are machetes and knives which are available in every household. Bamboo-based handicrafts occupy an important place in the traditions of most of these states. It provides a supportive livelihood to the farmers and provides full-time livelihood to the highly skilled artisans who produce finely decorated baskets, utensils, and cots for commercial sales.
The lady with fish made by Mehboob Ali
The potential for commercial production of cane and bamboo products in the state is quite high. These products are in great demand both at home and abroad. The Assam government has commissioned 460 units of cane and bamboo small industries in 26 districts investing Rs 371.34 lakhs in engaging 2212 persons in the job.