• Niteen Hatle

Watch.

The double flip-lock clasp of my 15-plus years old Titan watch had got loose. Some days back the watch had slipped off my wrist and fallen on the office floor. I decided to get it fixed that very evening to avoid further embarrassment. Besides, it was my favorite watch and I was not about to dump it.

On my way back home, I stopped at a tiny watch repair shop at Balewadi Phata to get it fixed. I waited outside the shop as a couple got their watches repaired. The mechanic installed a new battery in a watch. He set the time and handed it over to the guy, who checked if everything was in order.

“Yes, what is it?” asked the mechanic.

“Sir, the locking system of my watch strap has got loose. The lock opens all the time.”

He took the watch and started examining the lock clasp. He looked up at me. “The locking system has got loose?”

“Yes, sir. Can you fix it?”

During lunch I had asked my friends whether the locking system can be fixed or the whole band will have to be replaced. They had said only the locking system can be changed and that it won’t cost much. But I had expected it would cost a sizeable amount.

The mechanic gave it another look and picked up his tweezers (or maybe pliers). He twisted the two ends of the outer lock inward a little. Then he did the same to the single knob in the center of the inner lock. This happened in the blink of an eye. He pressed the inner lock and then the outer lock and handed the watch to me. I smiled and maybe the guy taking out cash from his wallet did too. I tried to open the outer lock and it was firm as hell. It took some effort to open it. So was the inner lock. I smiled internally.

“How much do I pay you?” I asked the mechanic. He looked up at me almost smiling. He did not expect me to pay for such an easy task. But he realized that I meant to.

“Rs. 10,” said he and got back to work.

I took out a note and gave it to him. I wanted to say something, but I turned around and quietly crossed the road. I stopped at the divider and thought aloud, ‘That was so clever and so easy. Why didn’t I think of it? I could have done it myself.’ I jogged across and reached my bike. I checked the locking system again. It was locked tight.

I looked back at the shop and the mechanic. I wanted to tell him that I paid him for his sharp mind. I paid him for his skill and experience. I paid him because he could think and do what I could not.

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