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Raghu, the cycle repair guy

You go down Tavarekere Main Road or as Bangalorean direction-givers are apt to say “straaaaaaaaiiiiiitu” until you almost reach, what looks like a dead-end but upon closer examination, is a fork in the road. Just after crossing the perpetually non-dry naala zone gingerly (it takes some careful walking to avoid getting splashed), you’ll see Manjunath Condiments on your left, the cycle repair shop will be bang opposite.

I reached Raghu’s shop around 11am on Sunday. This was a reconnaissance trip so I hadn’t taken the cycle with me. Explained to him that I had a gear cycle, needed to get a tune-up (many problems to fix) so I’d drop it off. He had 5 customers around him (at various levels of cyclical distress). He impatiently muttered something about Monday which I interpreted to mean “Drop it off, it’ll be ready by tomorrow”.

I reappear at his shop 30 min later and he snaps at me “Didn’t I tell you to come tomorrow? Sundays are just impossible like this!” (gesticulating at the people milling around his shop).

I didn’t budge.

He relented with “Ok. Park your cycle.. wait a while.. let’s see.”

Meanwhile, he was replacing the brake pads on a geared cycle, a job he finished in 15 minutes, for which he charged Rs. 150. He then proceeded to replace the chain of a kid’s cycle (took him about 3 minutes) before getting to my cycle.

I didn’t have to tell him anything – he just got to work.

  • Step 1: inflated both tires and within 2 minutes diagnosed that front tire was perfectly ok and back one needed a tube replacement
  • Step 2: Proceeded to replace the tube (another 3 minutes)
  • Step 3: lubed the rusty chain, tested and tweaked the brake settings (5 minutes)
  • Step 4: debugged that the gear shifter wasn’t working
    • Either the gear cable would need to be replaced (Rs. 120), or
    • Gear shifter would need to be replaced (Rs. 400)

Step 4 fixing was deferred to a later weekday evening and he set the chain in the middle-setting. He charged me Rs. 200 for his <15 min of super-efficient time & materials.

I returned a few evenings later. The gear cable was replaced in 10 minutes and I was on my way home on a smoothly running cycle. Time would tell whether I’d need to come back for the gear shifter.

Based on my experience with previous cycle repair guys, I would have easily parted with Rs. 500 (on a ‘fix everything’ cover) but Raghu stood out.

There’s honesty and there’s work ethic. When you see a perfect blend of the two, it’s so heartening.

If you believe in karma, you’d want people like Raghu to thrive.

I reckon a chat conversation with Raghu would be a logical next step.