By M.T. Yogesh Kumar
In an age of medical advancement where things change every moment, here is a man who treats people for their common ailments with herbs and roots. He has been selling herbal medicines for the last 60 years and has supported his family with the income earned from the medicines. Known as Pundit to the people of Mysuru, Narayanaswamy alias Appaswamy sells his medicines on a TVS moped and is a familiar figure with his coat-and-a-hat attire.
Appaswamy is a resident of 2nd Cross, 4th Main, Paduvarahalli (Vinayakanagar). He began selling herbal medicines at a very young age of 11 (discontinuing his primary education) and learnt the art of preparing the medicines from his grandfather. He uses 101 herbs to painstakingly prepare medicines for ailments including knee joint pain, headache, back pain and toothache. He also prepares massage oils and medicines for stroke and calls his medicine as ‘Jeevadhara Herbal Oil’. Apart from herbal medicines, he sells agarbathis and tooth powder that he prepares at his house.
The 72-year-old Appaswamy started his business on a bicycle and now he sells them on his moped (KA-09 S 6764) that is fitted with a mike system where he announces the benefits of his medicines. Standing near places that are frequented by crowds, he explains the ailments, about the medicines prepared by him and also the time of recovery.
In Mysuru, you cannot miss Appaswamy especially on Sayyaji Rao Road, Vinoba Road, Chikka Gadiyara Circle, Aane Sarot Road (Boti Bazaar), APMC Yard, RMC and Santhepet. Ask any merchant or a small-time vendor in these areas, they will tell you about Appaswamy and his unique style. At busy areas, he usually plays old Kannada songs on a tape-recorder fitted to his moped and connected to the loudspeaker.
His initial investment was Rs.10 and over the years his business has grown. But he never overcharges for his medicines. Appaswamy is a common figure at village fairs and weekly shandies in and around Mysuru. This apart, he has travelled to Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra to sell his medicines. He has also travelled the length and breadth of Karnataka to market his products. With this humble business, he has been able to support his family and has provided good education to his five children apart from constructing houses for them. A multi-talented person, Appaswamy has also acted in dramas along with senior artistes like Subbaiah Naidu and Gubbi Veeranna. He claims that he has also acted in a small role with Kannada matinee idol Dr. Rajkumar. As verbal communication is his only way of attracting buyers, Appaswamy manages to speak Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Tulu and broken Kodava language. Appaswamy has not restricted himself to selling herbal medicine. Often he is seen educating people through the announcements on his mike about the importance of wearing helmets, following traffic rules, administering pulse polio and also the ill-effects of bursting crackers.