I committed a grave mistake the other evening; I went to get the battery in my watch replaced. Turns out this can be as dangerous as playing with fire.
The watch repair guy sat busily doing nothing behind the counter and said to me: “What’s wrong with your watch?”
“I think the – “ I ventured to reply, when he hushed me and continued. “You don’t really need to tell me. I can figure it out in a second just by holding your watch. I have been in this business for twenty years and this shop of mine is frequented by any knowledgeable Pune-ikar.” He turned to a tea-seller who had his little pop-up shop next door and called out. “What say, mate?”
“He’s right, madam.” The tea-seller affirmed. “You have come to the perfect place.”
I nodded furiously and handed over my watch to him. “I think the battery has run out…” I tried feebly. Where did I even stand against his clearly vast knowledge of the intricacies of a watch?
The man pulled out his microscope (or whatever they are called), new glasses and a flashlight and told me disdainfully after a few seconds of inspection: “You’ve been using Chinese batteries? And saving what—40 rupees? What if your watch had a heart attack?”
“I am sorry?” I was aghast. Heart attack?
“I am fitting this with top quality cells. No more trouble. Only 200 a piece. And 200 for my labour.”
“200? But you hardly did anything!”
Another scornful look. “If only I had opened it up and diagnosed a hundred problems—just like others in the business—you’d have gladly parted with cash. It’s customers like you who give us a bad name.”
I could have disappeared in smoke as both watch-man and tea-man sized me up contemptuously. I paid what I had to, grabbed my watch and ran. For the life of him, R couldn’t figure out why a trip to watch-repair had given me a massive headache.