Life Lessons from the Black Hole that is a Mobile Service Centre


Life Lessons from the Black Hole that is a Mobile Service Centre

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

You know the black holes that Stephen Hawking spoke about? I found one right here, on this planet, in this city… just a few kilometres from my house. The place where time ceases to exist and your soul is left screaming into the void. The mobile repair centre.

A visit to the service centre is like entering Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. There’s no shortage of more attractive places you can visit – prison for instance – but when you’re the guy who drowned your phone while swiping Tinder on the shitter, you have no choice but to suck it up and make your way to a service centre.

Every mobile repair shop has one thing in common: They are all conveniently located in places that Google Maps can’t find. You have to take the right at the Portal of Nothingness, and then take a U-turn when your life stops having any meaning, and you’re there. You might think that the worst is behind you – you’ve overcome the traffic and made your way through the narrow gullies without falling into an open sewer. But unfortunately, your ordeal has just begun.

It all begins with that hateful glare from the watchman at the door of the repair centre. He hates you because you probably have to visit this hellhole once every few months while he has to wait around all day. Once, you move past him, you can soak in the vibe. The walls sport huge posters, with colours brighter than the future of the people present there. When you’ve taken in every insignificant detail – the smell, the people, the insect-like buzz of the air-conditioner – you can begin the process of bringing your dead phone back to life.

You don’t really understand the value of life unless you have had a few bad experiences. Such is the case with a mobile repair shop.

Do not look past the coupon machine. Rumour has it that ignoring the coupon machine when you enter will anger the Ghosts of Frowning Watchmen Past to whisper “Coupon le lo, le lo, le lo” into your ears. These machines hate humans more than the T-800 in Terminator. They print four-digit coupons, which is both an indicator of the increasing population of our country, and the other five assholes in line before you. Once you have the coupon, don’t bother looking for a seat – people will ask you to scoot. Be it the local train or the call centre, the rule doesn’t change – the fourth seat is the most sought after.

Consider yourself lucky if you’ve found a seat. You now have the once-in-a-lifetime chance of interacting with these unique breed of people who inhabit your neighbourhood. All cliches come to life in the four walls of the mobile repair centre: There’s the loud uncle with two watches and a big moustache, the lady who’s always whining about how long everything in this country takes, and the guy who has a phone bigger than his face. On the other side of the room, across a row of tables, are the esteemed employees of the centre. You could be excused for mistaking them for robots, since they call out numbers much like the coupon machine. When it’s your turn, expect to be treated firsthand to the experience of a dimwit cutting in line. Maybe the employees will help you get rid of these miscreants, or maybe you should just go back to your seat or whatever is left of it and cry.

The actual process of getting your phone diagnosed is like attending an interrogation where only the bad cop showed up. The employees will painstakingly extract every detail of every time you dropped your phone, spilled something on it, or were abusive to other gadgets. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope you don’t hear the dreaded words, “Come back next week.” On a lucky day, you might walk home with a fully-functioning phone, but on most days you walk home with a receipt and an important life lesson: Buying a phone is a lot easier than getting it fixed.

You don’t really understand the value of life unless you have had a few bad experiences. Such is the case with a mobile repair shop. It’s people, walls, posters, all teach you to be grateful for what you have. In the hope that you never have to enter these confines again, you promise yourself that you will take better care of your phone.

But we all know how this ends. Given enough time, another phone will slip out of your hand and you will – in all probability – end up in the same spot all over again. After all, life is one big circle, and it’s not like you’re getting any less clumsier.