“I used to be the maintenance man at a building in Gandhinagar, I started working there from 1985 and I had to take care of everyday operations at the building. I did not know what to do during my free time, there was Player’s choice near the building, I spoke to them and decided to repair bats for them. The first bat I repaired, I was paid INR 30. Mr. Rahul Dravid was in his college when he started giving me his bats. I started to repair bats since 1996 and it’s been an amazing 20 years and I have no count of how many bats I have made.” says Mr. Ram Bhandari

How was your journey from Bihar to Bengaluru?

“My dad was in the military and he was a gold medalist but he got shot on his leg and hence he had to take a VR. I failed the 10th grade and due to this, the villagers started talking and started taunting me saying ‘yeh bachcha bhigad gaya he, yeh padta nahi aur iske saath dosre bachche bhi aise hi ho jayenge’. I was angry on them and hence I left my village to work in Gorakhpur, from there Punaghat and from there I went to Delhi, I didn’t like what I did there. From there I came to Madras and I thought to myself, ‘what am I doing here?’. I remembered a song from Bollywood which reminded me of Bombay, I always wanted to go to Bombay and I went there after Madras. I don’t know why but I did not like the ambience in Bombay, hence I went to Pune from there. I was standing on a platform at Pune Railway station and I saw the name Bangalore city. That is when I came to Bangalore and this was in the year 1979 or 1980.”

What does happiness mean to you?

“When I make bats, the players use those bats I made and they score very well. They come back and remember me and send a message ‘Thank you Bhandari sir’, well that’s happiness for me. I do not ask for any money or fix a price for the bats I make but I leave it to them to give me how much they think is right.”

“There is an art behind making bats, every player has different capabilities and every single player should have a bat specifically made for him. I remember once when Mr. Sachin Tendulkar gave me 3 bats to be rebuilt during 2007, he calls me and says ‘Bhandari, mein aapka intezaar karega, aap jaldi aajao’ and he actually waited until I got his bats. He was in the lobby of Chinnaswamy Stadium, the whole team was back to the hotel but he was sitting there. I was once told ‘Bhandari sir, the whole nation waits for Sachin Tendulkar, but Sachin waits for Ram Bhandari’.”