One of the first things I ever did in Delhi was walk into a cement block and smash my iPod screen. A purely cosmetic break, as it continued to function, but not an easy one to fix – the screen is a high-tech piece of equipment, and Apple changed the design a number of times.
So I was rather apprehensive as, after having scoured the city for a replacement screen and demanding to see it before I installed it myself, I was taken into an anonymous, underground shop the size of a small bathroom near a fly-over in a run-down quarter near the centre.
Down the stairs and through a dark corridor, past a number of nameless shops, sat a friendly looking Sikh in a perfect, double-breasted blue suit, thick Calvin Klein watch and bright red turban. On the desk next to him, a 12-year-old boy wrapped up in a jacket probably bigger than him, the surface in front of him littered with glue, razor blades, pliers, tweezers and dozen upon dozen of iPod spare parts. The sign outside of the building said it was ‘government approved’, but all that requires is for someone to make a sign that says ‘government approved’. I was suspicious. I showed my iPod and immediately took it back, but the child was already going through his work cabinet to find the right parts. The reticence of the manager to give me a quote was also suspicious.
Within ten minutes, the boy had not only fixed a woman’s iPhone (3G), but had also fixed mine, with only a matter of fitting the screen. By the time I’d gone off to get cash and come back, the screen was replaced my ipod was entirely indistinguishable from a new one, scratches on the back aside. And by god, it works. They even threw me a free iPod protector case – though it doesn’t cover the screen. That’s good business strategy.
I’ll be going back to ask the manager a couple of questions, but what particularly struck me was, as he was ordering for lunch and juggling a blackberry and a iPhone 4 (there was an HTC charging on his desk), the roll of 1000 Rupee notes he pulled out.