Use What You Have: Oct. 25th
Today we had to duplicate our house keys for Pratap’s apartment and for our house in Indiranagar. Jude decided that we should have them duplicated in Shivajinagar, which I clued in was his home base. First there were the classic negotiations with the key chap. "2 hours sir " (for 14 keys), "No , 1 hour" - "Ok sir, no problem sir". The key guy promptly started. Keys in India use technology that is about 3 centuries old. I was now about to see why. The guy takes the first key, a mind and body numbing 6" shank with a rectangular tooth set, looks at his available blanks and finds one roughly about the same size, plus or minus an inch. He then looks at the original key, and decides his blank is thicker - no problem, a few whacks with his hammer against an anvil, and a little filing, and presto, the right thickness. Next he hacksaws the blank to fit the same size section as the master. Time to actually cut the teeth. He puts his vise between his feet, and anchors it securely. Then he eyeballs the master, and hacksaws the blank to be roughly about the right size. More filing. The actual duplicate was about 1 or 2 mm off in places. "No problem, sir". It wasn’t - the key fit in the lock and worked just fine. The cost was 15 rupees per key (about 50 cents). Sue and I decided that the next hour and a half would be better spent wandering about the neighborhood. It was largely Moslem, since there was a beautiful mosque at the base of all the shops. We wandered by a place called "Moon Terrace Ass", then later into a street of Christian undertakers. The shops had names like "Death-Box Godown", selling cheap black caskets, or "Death Delivery", which had an old 1940 hearse, with an ornate cast iron roof rack for carrying the casket.
An hour later, the keys were done. I did a drawing of an old shopkeeper to pass the time. He wasn’t amused, and was downright hostile. "Why", he wondered aloud to Jude, "would I draw something for free. How could I be that stupid?" Oh well. The paper was picked up from the seller next door, who tore apart office papers, and separated them by color for recycling. Next door was the local home depot, a group of muslim men smoking pipes, wrapped in turbans, and selling chisels which they were calmly making by grinding away pieces of rebar. Sue says she now understands why the medical folks say bring your own syringes.