in for repairs

There are certain practices that seem so perfectly normal in your own culture that it takes immersion in a completely foreign way of life to realize how absurd they are.

For instance: what would you do with a toaster that doesn’t toast? With an electric lunchbox that doesn’t heat up? With a t-shirt that’s too big?

If I was home, I would a) throw it away, b) throw it away, and c) give it to Goodwill.

But here in India, I a) get it fixed, b) get it fixed, and c) get it fixed.

There are at least a dozen tailors set up and sewing away in our main market, not counting the guy repairing shoes on the sidewalk who you pass on the way there. There are also at least three electricians in the north-west corner of the market alone, sitting in their closet-sized shops overflowing with spools of wires and dusty motors from appliances long-since disassembled.

After twenty rupees and two hours, the Indiana Jones t-shirt I bought in Thailand is now the right size. After 150 rupees and two days, I don’t have to buy a new toaster and I don’t have to buy a new lunchbox.

Fixing stuff instead of throwing it away! Only in India.

(By the way, you read that right: electric lunchbox. They’re great, except when they fail.)

12 responses to “in for repairs

  1. I see the steampunk subculture in the US as a sort of revival- back to the roots where you can actually make and repair stuff with your hands.
    It’s good for the environment too, if you can repair your stuff instead of throwing it away.
    And we’ve been jury rigging stuff and reusing it for years now.

  2. When we landed in US a decade ago, it was such a shock to see people throwing away their appliances and furniture. All because the cost of repair is enormous here, in fact sometimes it is cheaper to buy a new one! On the brighter side things are well made and do not break as often. While back in India usually electric things break more than often but are repairable. I keep collecting my clothes in a bag to get them altered in India on the next trip. Service industry is big and easily accessible in India and is not just for the rich!

  3. Lovely blog. I enjoyed reading your posts about Delhi. I am a delhite too and reside in South Delhi.

    Do go though my blog

    Another expat, wriying very interesting posts about India. Read her blog

  4. I was going through the archives and read the office-boys post.
    If we start throwing away stuff instead of getting them repaired those people will lose their jobs, won’t they? 🙂

    By the way I have been reading your blog courtesy the Google Reader since last week and I have been having a good time so far :). Keep posting… have a nice day ahead

  5. I have used this drycleaner in Gurgaon for some time. It is easy to drop things off after work on my way back to Delhi and then pick up a few days later.

    Imagine my surprise when they showed me a pair of my wool dress pants had a rip in the groin…. At home in the states, my drycleaner would gladly fix that for me for a few bucks.

    Not at this place.. The Dry Cleaner wanted nothing to do with it. Fortunately, my driver gladly took my pants and had them fixed in his local market for 20 rupees.

  6. Trying to fix things and using them in USA would be considered being cheap..

    I recently had 2 big boxes of electronic kitchen appliances that we had to discard.. There is no way to fix them.

    Local elementary school is having a e-waste fundraiser- where all electronics that people are not using will be dumped.. I plan on participating..

    Please keep posting.. your perspective is unique and enjoyable..

  7. Hi Dave & Jenny – I thought I saw you both at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Citywalk on Saturday evening, was it you?

  8. Yes! You should have said hi!

  9. (Dave says) OK, that’s totally creepy. Now I know how Brad Pitt feels.

  10. Sorry, but I’m extremely petrified at approaching people I don’t know personally, I thought I’d come off as some con artist or something. I recognized Dave right away but I was not so sure about Jenny with the glasses on.

    The result: I totally forgot to take sugar for my rather large cup of Americano take-out. Not pretty.

  11. haha

    Well, next time do say hello. I don’t normally wear glasses, but all this hot and humid weather has given me pink eye.

    I’m just glad I didn’t embarrass myself by walking into to anything or anyone, as I’m prone to do because I’m very disoriented in my glasses.

  12. Jenny- You should do what many delhites do so well: wear sunglasses indoors at night.

    I’ll surely say hi next time I happen to see you both. In the meantime, keep an eye out for any suspicious looking, con artist-ish 23 year olds, it could just be me.

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