The Key Maker

One of the things that make our Indian cities vibrant is the presence of several small businesses that eke their living by solving the everyday problems of the citizens, or making their lives easier in small and practical ways.

One such tradesman is the locksmith who is found in every market area. Here is Mr Muniyappa of Jayanagar 9th Block:

muniyappa locksmith 9th bk 070209 sangeetha madhukar visit

Mr Muniyappa has, he says, been in this spot for over 2 decades now! He has seen Jayanagar 9th Block market developing from scratch into a busy, crowded area.

His shop is still on the footpath:

key maker 9th block 050109

But people for miles around know where, exactly to find him…and knew that long before he acquired his mobile phone!

Just look at the variety of key-blanks that he has; with his vice and set of files, he makes duplicates of various keys, often telling a customer, "Ardha ghante mele banri!" and having the keys ready at that time.

Of course, like all locksmiths, it happens that occasionally someone takes him along because the front door is locked and the key missing…so one has to wait until that problem is solved and he returns!

Just look behind the locksmith, and you will see what is called, in local parlance, a "chota tailor" who will do a lot of alternation work on your clothes, and repair them for you, too, if need be…for a very reasonable sum indeed!

Such people are the heart of trade and commerce in the local market areas of Bangalore; they ply their trade with honesty and diligence, and a sense of belonging to the area comes from knowing these people as persons and not just as workmen in the market area.

I am sure that by now, Muniyappa has opened the front doors of every apartment in my building! He opens doors in about three or four minutes, and laughs, "The notion of a well-locked door is mainly your sense of security…nothing will stop a good locksmith for very long!"

That makes me muse on the trust that I repose in so many others who visit my home..the milk and newspaper delivery people, the cleaners, the security guards….I may not think about them often, but it’s a web of dependency that sustains my daily life.


  1. Anjana Mohan says:

    It is true that the “strangers we know” give us a sense of belonging. And most of us are fortunate these the “strangers we know” are connected to our lives. Most of them look out for us, and we don’t even realize it. Unless there is intentional malice, the milkman and the delivery people are watching out for our property, our homes, our children and our families. The more they feel they “know” us, and the kinder we are to them, the more their sense of obligation to form not only our web of dependency, but also our web of soft-protection.

    The common-area sweeper lady is very likely to report the signs of smoke coming from under your door, for example, if you’ve stepped away for an errand. However, she’s less likely to do so if you’ve just mistreated her last week…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Nature Feature: A dinner invitation

"Will you walk into my parlour?" Said the spider to the fly. "I've spread a carpet of silk and diamonds! Walk in, and don't be shy! Do come along, for I grow thinner... I've LOVE to have you, ahem, for dinner!" Jokes apart, Funnel Web Spiders also called Wolf Spiders, are named because of the funnel-like web they weave...and the second name is given because they are ferocious predators. They build a flat sheet of nonsticky web with a funnel-shaped retreat to one side or occasionally in the middle, depending on the situation and species. The typical hunting mode is…

Similar Story

Theatre Review: “Credit Titles” by Bangalore Little Theatre

It was like a rare alignment of the planets: several factors come together to pull me out of my usual Ranga Shankara ambit for watching a play. I had not been to visit Bangalore International Centre, which opened a while ago in Domlur; Bangalore Little Theatre, as part of their "VP 80" festival, was staging "Credit Titles"; the play, written by Vijay Padaki, whose 80th birthday the festival marks, was based on a story by Vinod Vyasulu, an eminent economist whom I've known for a long time, as our daughters share a cose friendship dating from 1988. And last but…