Ratheesh R.S. is hard at work. He is trying to find the location and size of a puncture on a tyre of a motorbike. He soon finds it and in no time, fixes it. The biker addresses him by name, thanks him, and zooms off. A Ford Figo stops by and the driver who addresses him by name says he is going on a road trip and needs the air pressure in his car’s tyres checked.
“Most people living around the Peroorkada-Kudappanakkunnu area know me,” says Ratheesh with a tinge of pride in his voice. Ratheesh has been working at S.S. Tyre Works, Civil Station Road, for the last 10 years. “I started working here as a trainee after completing my class ten. Vinod sir, the owner of the shop, taught me the tricks of the trade.” Ask him why he chose to learn how to mend a puncture, how to fill air in tyres, how to retread tyres and the like, Ratheesh shrugs his shoulders and says: “No real reason. I felt it was the right job for me.”
Ratheesh who starts his day at 8 a.m. downs the shutters by 8.30 p.m. “I am on my feet more or less throughout the day. Mornings and evenings are especially busy. The shop gets an average of 125 vehicles per day and it is not just motorbikes or small cars, big cars stop by too. Out of the 125 vehicles around 70 are puncture repairs.”
He walks me through the intricacies of tubeless tyres, what causes punctures, how he patches them and so on. When once mending tyres, retreading tyres and the like were tough jobs, with the progress of technology and new machines entering the field, work has become lighter, he says.
The 28-year-old, who looks as if he is in his late teens, resides in Kattakada with his parents and siblings. He gets an off day once a week, which he spends either with his family or his friends. Ask if he has dreams of starting his own tyre repair shop and he replies in a heartbeat: “No. I prefer working like this. There is less of responsibility and less of tension.”
(A weekly column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)