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Jakarta Post

See the world through books on Becak Pustaka

Tue, July 30, 2019   /   03:55 pm
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    Sutopo wears a surjan lurik to work every Thursday Pahing, following a call from Yogyakarta city administration. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo pushes his modified pedicab out of his neighborhood in Jetis, Yogyakarta. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Before working, Sutopo eats breakfast at a nearby food stall. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo waits for students in front of SD Tarakanita Bumijo state elementary school. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Rini and her son, Devan, return a picture book they borrowed from Sutopo's Becak Pustaka. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo takes a break while listening to his favorite song “Carol” by Neil Sedaka from his old radio. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    An app-based motorcycle taxi driver observes the parked Becak Pustaka. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Apart from bringing books, Sutopo also brings the latest newspapers. Fellow pedicab drivers often borrow the newspapers from Sutopo. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo wears two layers of glasses to help him read small fonts in books or newspapers. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo's moving library earns a prize from publisher Gramedia. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo's pedicab is modified to accommodate bookshelves and passengers so the latter can still comfortably sit. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

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    Sutopo drives his pedicab while passing the iconic Tugu Yogyakarta. JP/Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

Anggertimur Lanang Tinarbuko

Sutopo leaves his house every morning at 6 a.m., pedaling his becak (three-wheeled pedicab). His pedicab is not an ordinary one as the 71-year-old calls it a Becak Pustaka (library on pedicab).

On Thursday Pahing (one of the five Javanese week days), he wears surjan lurik (traditional striped shirt for men), complete with blangkon (traditional cap) as suggested by the Yogyakarta city administration.

Dozens of books are lined up neatly on the wooden shelves in his pink pedicab. The various titles and themes of the books attract people to read.

Sutopo said that through books, he could see a wider world.

“I am also studying English by myself through books,” he added.

The books at Becak Pustaka are free to borrow, without any conditions.

That morning, Rini and her son, 4-year-old Devan, approached Sutopo's pedicab, which was parked on the side of the road.

Devan wanted to return the picture book he had borrowed and get a new one. 

Rini often borrows picture books for her son from Sutopo's library.

"Devan just happens to like animals. And here, we can borrow the books for free,” she said.

Sutopo started to spread the reading habit after he retired from his position as a civil servant. Himself a bookworm, Sutopo grew concerned seeing the younger generation, especially children, prefer to play with their mobile phones than reading.

Therefore, he created a library on a pedicab because by pedaling, he can also maintain his health.

Sutopo aims to encourage children to improve their reading habit. [yan]