Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Street Corner

At the end of the road, right by where we would wait for our school bus to pick us up, used to be a cycle repair shop. With a thatched roof at one point and then a tin rake, the small boxed shop was a permanent fixture of my childhood. As was common it started with the father and then the son took over.

You'd go there to fill up air or get a puncture fixed - thorns were abounding those days and tubes were precious. Cycle tubes would have multiple patches and I don't think I ever had to replace one.. ever.. in all those years from learning in the back lanes to riding along the beach road.  I still remember how fascinated I was, that very first time, by how he ferreted out the puncture in the tube.

Another lazy Saturday afternoon. The sun streaming down in all its glory. Wheeling the cycle down the three blocks to the corner of the Double Road, breathing in the clean air; not that one thought of the air in those days. Weekend afternoons were for siesta; you'd hardly pass anybody on the streets. If it was a good day, the person at the repair shop would be puttering away at things, else you would call him awake from his snooze under the shade.You would fix the price for the repairs first and then he would prop up the cycle and pull out the tube. His hands very efficient at what they were doing.  Skin tanned to dark chocolate leather, palms all blackened from handling tires, tubes and grease all day. He'd fill up some air in sad flat tube. They had this bowl with some water in it - at one time it was a slice of a big truck tire; people were resourceful back then, repurposing everything. He'd patiently go all the way around dipping the tube in the water and watching out for.. bubbles. He never stopped at the first one. Went all around to make sure there were no more punctures. Once he'd marked out all the spots requiring fixing, he'd get the tube out wipe it off let the air out and start sanding out the spots with the holes. Then would cut out rectangular patches of some old tube, blunt out the edges, sand that up a little bit. Apply adhesive on both ends - the patch and the tube and stick them together. He'd let the whole thing dry out, fill out some more air and go back and do the bubbles test again. Once he was satisfied he'd got them all, the air would come out again, the tube would be put back into place in the tire and then pumped with air to the required pressure.

A very meticulous and conscientious person. I have much to learn from him.

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