Wheel Love

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This made me smile.

It also made me think two thoughts.

First, I thought of a wizened man in white kurta-pajamas who would come and shout in our neighborhoods: “Do you have something to sharpen?”  He would come with a bicycle fitted to a sharpening wheel. It was a basic contraption – a wheel with a hard, rough surface that could be coupled to the pedals using a belt. Housewives would take their old knives and scissors and flock to him in groups of two or three. That was how it used to be – people didn’t throw their stuff away to buy new things only to throw them away again. Pay a few rupees to this periodic visitor and the knife would be as good as new. As kids, we weren’t interested in the sharpening; it was the sparks that made our day – orange flickers along the wheel’s tangent. Not oppressive welding sparks that you couldn’t bear to see, but sleek flecks of energy accompanied by a hiss of roughness and metal. I longed to touch the wheel to see if it was hot. But, I never did.

Then, I also wondered how we don’t do things with our hands anymore; we touch them on a screen and think it is all very cool. We don’t fix things; we just replace them. We don’t make things; we just buy them not knowing who made them or what went into their making. I know it’s about civilization and technology and how it makes for a better life – the greatest good for the greatest number. But still, it’s reached a point where we think that making things is something cute, a sort of playful deviancy for slightly crazy persons. So cute, that like the Peseta Caps in the video, we keep them in a museums. At arms length. So we can entertain ourselves when we are bored. This makes me a little sad.

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