A few weeks back, my watch decided to do something funny, seemingly just to irritate me.
No, the tourbillon did not conk, nor did the escapement do anything weird. What happened was quite strange. The metal 'border' surrounding the screen that displayed the date, decided to sever relationships from the parent body and wriggled loose. What ensued what quite frustrating for anyone who proudly proclaims he paid 24 Bahraini Dinars for a good Seiko - this frame performed gymnastics around my watch , and during it's dial-trotting adventures, frequently getting itself entragled with the hands, hence rendering my watch unfit for all purposes chronological.
Since I am a strong advocate of using something for more than mere decorative purposes, I decided to get the damn thing fixed. Sheesh, imagine. Because of a stupid problem like this, I couldn't wear a watch, which was my primary source of telling time (for all my addiction to mobile telephony, nothing beats time-telling like the good ol' wristwatch). More than that, I feel this sense of nakedness when I don't have that reassuring warmth of the enclapsed timepiece around my wrist. Like having one leg of your underwear removed. Bad analogy, yes. Let that pass.
And on one of my frequent perambulations around Chennai, I stop by a watch repair shop. To me, this was just what I was looking for. Seedy, yes. But when your watch is down and are desperate to fix it, you really don't look for aesthetic interiors.
I removed my watch and handed it to the 'watchman', so to speak. This was the first time I had the opportunity of seeing what these people actually do behind the glass window (My previous repairman in Kochi had his cubicle distanced to the back of the room - maybe he didn't want to divulge KFC-esque secrets?). What I saw stunned me.
It was so simple, yet, a young, impressionable mind like mine was in wonder. I was standing there, watching this man, as he cooly removed the back cover, And with tweezers oh-so-delicate, removed the entire mechanism dextrously. Needless to say, if I'd attempted the same venture, there would be quite a few spare parts flying around in the room. He separated the dial body from the turning-knob-screws, and the icing de la cake - took the estranged metal frame, applied the right amount of superglue, and again, with all the grace of a Chinese using chopsticks, used those tweezers and fixed it on perfectly. You wouldn't tell it was repaired, even! And in a matter of seconds, he reassembles the jigsaw and hands it back, perfectly working.
And how much, I ask? Five rupees! I wish I could have paid him more! :D
Here I was, impaired with my watch's body parts tripping over each other, and this magician waves his magic tweezers, solves the problem and asks for just five bucks?
I'll bet there are so many other arts like this, which we take for granted... Some which we may even make fun of - cobblery, for instance - but seriously, how many of us would possess the skill to do it?
This may seem a silly thing to blog about... But to me, that day... That one incident - made me realise how vital these unsung heroes - these lesser-known artists are... Tell me, what would you do in a world with no watch repairmen and the tourbillon of your 3 lakh Rolex decides to stop rotating? ;)