At Town Hall works a man who holds a key to a lot of problems, writes Gaurango Banerji
After an exhausting morning trying to send out a parcel at the Coimbatore railway station, I returned to my bike, sat on it, and realised I couldn't find my bike key anywhere. I had lost it. Not quite knowing what to do next, I asked an auto driver if he had any ideas. He did, and advised me to go to Town Hall, where a key maker would solve my problem.
The work station
I found the shop. It was a small area squeezed in between a bakery and a police enclosure. And there he was, intent on his work, undeterred by the din of the busy road, surrounded by keys and a few simple tools and a cutting machine.
I asked him if he would unlock my bike and he responded by asking me to show him my registration certificate.
He wanted to ensure that the bike was indeed mine and not stolen! This is routine. Even those who lock themselves out of their homes and want him to help open their doors, are asked to wait. He always double checks with neighbours before he unlocks any doors.
He is Abdul Nazar and the 38-year-old has been at this job for the past 25 years.
He inherited the job from his father who had his shop in the old market. And no, he says, he doesn't think his son will follow in his footsteps. In barely ten minutes, my bike is unlocked. I pay him twenty rupees for his trouble and leave.
I wonder how many more there are like Abdul who work unobtrusively at unglamorous and poorly paid jobs, but whose services are invaluable to keep a city and its people running smoothly.