The next time you are out in Delhi or any other Indian city, step out on the road and walk. There’s every chance you’ll return refreshed, roadside shockers notwithstanding or maybe because of them.
No one in India claims English is their first language excepting maybe a few but that will not stop the enterprising street-side entrepreneurs from advertising their services in English, like Bhola’s open air enterprise under a large tree in Delhi does.
If it were not for the two shock absorbers hanging from nails driven into the tree I might have spent a wee bit longer making sense of the board. Sure there were illustrations on the board but the letters were so prominent as to momentarily shock one into staring at them, the incredulity of it all.
Pegged to a pole in front of the tree the board read: BHOLA SHOCKER & KAMANI REPAIR.
No. The owner does not go by the name BHOLA SHOCKER. He probably goes by Bhola. Whoever painted the board had more than an extra lick of red paint to bandy around.
Shocker is local lingo for two-wheeler shock absorbers while Kamani is its equivalent for the four-wheeler shock absorbers, particularly trucks.
Kaman is Hindi for ‘arc’, or a ‘bow’, the shape of four-wheeler shock absorbers, so I would imagine Kamani would have derived from Kaman.
Bhola is local for simpleton or simple. It’s likely Bhola started young, assisting his mentor while gaining more than a nodding familiarity with friendly truckers stopping at the garage for repairs and before long the name will have stuck like with the proverbial child-helper at the neighbourhood chai ka dukan who will continue to be called Chotu long after he has outgrown his shorts and now runs his own streetside tea shop. I'll leave the story of how the happy as 'ell Sikh kid came to be called Happy Singh for another day.
India’s truckers cannot imagine a life without these roadside repair shops on their long distance hauls. Once an apprentice or assistant learns the ropes Indian roads benefit by an added service point. Their enterprise depends upon their ability to innovate with resources at their disposal, often limited, and their trust in the usually sorry state of roads on long distance runs to send business their way.
Soon enough a tea shop, and a dhaba will materialize to cater to truckers stopping by the roadside garage.
While the other shops in the vicinity had pegged their boards to the roof above the entrance like the Sai Dhaba adjacent to Bhola’s, his own functioned in the shade of the tree with implements stored in makeshift wooden cupboards behind the tree. A white car, its bonnet open, stood in the repair dock. Evidently, Bhola serviced more than just faulty shock absorbers.
On a wooden bench outside a tea shop, adjacent to Sai Dhaba, several men sat sipping tea.
And life carried on as usual, shockers et al.
Sometimes, to be oblivious is to be set free of constraints even when it is an occasionally obvious intangible like say, an alien language!
Note: If you’ve any visuals of shockers to share from your travels around India and would like to share them here I’ll be glad to run them in a post with due credit. Mail me at my contact listed in the side-bar.