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At this Bengaluru cafe, repair enthusiasts find their calling

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Following its third anniversary, Repair Cafe Bengaluru has started reaching out to schools

Four days in a week, Antara Mukherji's bag is packed with a saw, a sewing kit, an insulation tape and all the other paraphernalia readily associated with a plumber, electrician or any odd-jobs person.

With this kit, she is now visiting a school near Old Airport Road where she would be “fixing” things for a while.

She is part of Repair Cafe Bengaluru, a community of repair enthusiasts.

Repair Cafe has turned three and is now trying to extend its reach, targeting city schools. That's where volunteers like Antara come in. She and another volunteer are currently working with students to have two defunct speakers at this school near Old Airport Road repaired.

Before this, they upcycled a few unused furniture items and revived a bamboo structure.

Love of learning

“The children are thirsty for knowledge,” says Antara of the group she is working with. Using media like art and drama, children are introduced to repairs and made to play handyman.

Antara is a co-founder of Repair Cafe Bengaluru.

All that volunteers of Repair Cafe Bengaluru want from the schools is permission to let them set up repair labs on their campuses that would show children how to mend things. “We have such a throwaway culture that we have forgotten the joy of repairing,” says Purna Sarkar, co-founder of Repair Cafe Bengaluru.

The three-month to one-year module with schools provide basic skills while prompting youngsters to think about the value of the things around them.

At this Bengaluru cafe, repair enthusiasts find their calling

Repair Cafe has worked with the Government High School at Jeevan Bheema Nagar on a “kali-kalisu” project sponsored by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA).

Earth School in Cooke Town also invited them. A book on repairs for children by Pratham Books is also ready.

The journey

When Antara and Purna brought Repair Cafe to the city in 2015, there were some challenges.

“When we first started, we brought professionals to repair things. Now, we have many volunteers, at least 10 on a regular basis, in the age group of 17 to 70,” says Purna, who loves fixing jewellery.

Seventy four-year-old Bharath Kumar dabbles in mechanical and automobile repairing. He also conducts sessions for homemakers on basic repair work, including replacing the fuse or changing the washer. Seventeen-year-old Naren V.R. helps fix electronic appliances.

Turning point

When they decided to move repair cafés to public spaces, the tide turned. They have so far conducted 29 workshops, taking the concept to various neighbourhoods. They are also a part of Cycle Day.

“This is a big achievement as Repair Cafe International usually sits at one place,” says Purna.

When a Repair Cafe gets closer to the community it is meant to serve, the response is amazing.

“At Ranka Plaza in Wheeler Road, we sat in a garage and the residents helped us get people to come with items that needed repairs. People not only brought things to be mended, but also got involved in the process,” says Purna. The money generated from each of the workshops is used for the next one. “We also ask for donations to cover our expense,” says Purna.

How it works

Repair Cafes serve as a meeting place where people find tools, material and people to help carry out repairs on clocks, cycles, knick-knacks, small appliances and clothes.

The ultimate objective of these cafés is to promote a sustainable society.

Martine Postma initiated Repair Cafe and held the first one in Amsterdam in 2009. She later started the Repair Cafe Foundation, a non-profit organisation.

There are 1500 Repair Cafes worldwide, and Bengaluru is the only Indian city to have one.

For details, email repaircafe.bengaluru@gmail.com.

Follow them at facebook.com/ Repaircafe080Bangalore

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:50:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/at-this-bengaluru-cafe-repair-enthusiasts-find-their-calling/article25880831.ece

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