Posts The 'Puncture' shop

The 'Puncture' shop

I was tired, dragging the bike towards the main road. So finally I decided to slowly hop on and drive without giving much weight on the front wheel. The tube was punctured for the past 2 weeks! Well, carelessness. So today was the day I felt the monotonicity of travelling in BMTC buses and the potential time loss it had. I succumbed to it.

Riding slowly at first gear, I reached the back of the long tail of cars waiting to cross over. Okay. It was hardly another 200m. I jumped on to the wrong side of the road and reached the junction. Stopped. And asked for the “puncture” shop and managed to cross over to the other side of K.Gate before the signal was red again. Scrape through, without the helmet, right under the nose of the traffic police officer who seemed busy calling someone on the phone.

He sat there kneeling on the road with a spanner.The Kinetic Honda’s back tyre had to be tightened. Slowly turning the nut with the spanner and looking at the old tyre. He gave me a gaze as I parked my bike just behind the one he is repairing. I did not speak. He looked at me and then looked at the front tyre and then the back tyre, and without much change of expression continued tightening the hold of the Kinetic’s wheel.

Suddenly he stood up and went towards his shop, took the pressure meter and the air pump. Filled the air carefully and checked the tube pressure. A little more. And slowly decreasing the pressure till it dipped to 28. Well, thats it. The onlookers (the owner of the bike and his friend) stood there amused. He then pointed at the handle and asked them to check the brakes. Tightened it a bit and moved back to his shop, as if he is done with it. The Kinetic’s owner moves around to the front of the scooter and checks the front tyre. And looking at the repairer, he asked to fill some air in it too. Satisfied he sat on the scooter and went on for a test drive.

Keshavappa came towards me and asked to put my bike on its center stand. I promptly complied. He went back to his little shop and brought an empty tyre and hung it behind my bike, after cleaning it so that it will not make my bike dirtier(Not that it was all clean; I had to dust it to take it from home as it had bourne all the construction dust for the week). The tail lamp was till unfixed. He got back to business, while I eyed him to check if all the parts that were removed were kept safely.

The horns blared endless when a Volvo had blocked the entry of vehicles from the other side.

He removed the front tyre and looked at the brake drum and then looked at me. I gave a smile. Then he stood up and checked the odometer. 6000 something. Hmmm. He would have tagged me - rash driver. With the tyre in his hand he came inside to his garage. I accompanied.

At the entrance of the garage there were sliced tubes and a brush beside. A small wooden platform which kind of a curvature from use. Towards the right there was a small concrete tank, which had water dirtied up by use. Another air pump that hanged from the ceiling hook and rolled up on a pile of stacked tubeless tyres of different sizes. Most of them looked that of different motor bikes and scooters. In another table there was a heap of nuts and fasteners and the caps of the tube nozzles. The table had three jars. One had oil. The inner walls were stacked with unopen tubes in plastic covers.

He sat on the wooden stool. It should have been atleast 5 years old, I guessed in my mind looking at the plaster that was coming off from the walls. Setting the tyre on another smaller one he started removing the tube out. A couple of girls passed by. Finally the tube was out.

Looking at me he asked “Kannada? Tamil?” quizzingly. “Malayalam” I replied.

He started talking in slow Tamil pointing at the tube. He had found it out instantly. The tube was of a bigger size - 18. And on the side of the tyre it was clearly etched 2.75 / 3.00 - 17.

I nodded and said “Ahh!” thinking ‘Should I change it again?’. Months back I had got it replaced after fighting with another garage repair guy near Silkboard, and at a final attempt to reach my friend’s home before 9 O’clock, I asked him to put the tube that was in stock. Mistake!

Keshavappa as still looking at me. ‘Yeh naya tube kitne ka hai?’ I asked him. He went back inside and checked an unopened one and said 260. I looked in my wallet - there were 3 hundreds.

Meanwhile Keshavappa had already ripped open the plastic cover and had taken the tube out. ‘Okay!’ I thought, at the back of my mind trying to justify - anyways since it was of a bigger size, prone to more punctures. Let’s fix it.

Well, it was the first time that I had looked at those numbers on the tyre and he had a reason! I did not disagree. So there it was, my bike getting a new tube. He took oil from the jar and slipped the tube into the tyre. Watching the ease at which he worked, he was an expert. You ask anything about a tyre to him and he will shoot an answer with a reason instantly - I thought. He put the front tyre back into the bike and asked me to check the brake. I asked him to loosen it a bit. Done. The pressure was set to 25 for the front tyre and 30 for the back. By the time, another bike had parked behind my bike. Pocketting 270 Rs; 10 Rs service charge, he started with the next.

After all, all he did was to roll up his sleeves, fix the punctures, put tubes in the bikes and scooters, and earned his living. He did the one thing that he knew, with ultimate expertise.

So should startups!

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