‘Get a new one Madam,” said the shopkeeper, “It will work out cheaper for you,” he observed. The shopkeeper was referring to the faucets that he had put up for display. I looked at him a bit thoughtfully and told him I would come back. “No problem madam,” he said as he continued to adjust his wares.
I walked out of the shop and headed straight to the food court because I wanted some coffee and a corner seat to think.
A week before, I had noticed that the water flow from the faucet in the kitchen sink was not smooth. The water splashed all over, leaving a huge area of water droplets. Once, I figured that the problem was with the small filter that was fixed to the tap, I simply removed it. I knew I could fix it — all I had to do was find a new one that is similar.
The next day I carried it to the shop nearby. The supermarket guy directed me to a hardware store, the hardware store guy directed me to another hardware store and finally, that other hardware store guy took one look at the supposed filter and gave me a piece of advice. “A plumber can easily fix it. Those guys have these filters. Otherwise, you will end up going all over Dubai looking for this.”
I thanked him and walked back home a bit irked. In one evening I had gone to three shops with no result but some advice.
Once back home I dialled the number and booked a plumber to come by the next morning. As promised, the plumber arrived, took one look at the filter and headed straight to the kitchen sink.
“What happened?” I asked a bit curious. “Madam,” he said without hesitation, “you should change the faucet.” “Why?” I asked him in disbelief. “Because I don’t have this filter size,” he said. “So?” I asked him, still confused. “Because it is easier to buy a faucet than this little filter.” “But ...”, I mumbled in protest, but the plumber was on his way out. “Call me when you get a new one.” So saying, he was gone.
I could not believe my ears. But I was determined to find the filter. So I googled for some hardware stores from where I could buy it.
The following weekend I reached the first shop with renewed hope. In the next half-hour I had walked out of five outlets with no sign of the filter. “It is just a filter,” I told the man in the sixth shop. “Madam, why don’t you change the tap?” he suggested. I walked out in a huff.
The man called after me. “Madam, the tap costs less than half the money that you are spending on looking for that small part,” he said half laughingly.
That only annoyed me further. It was at that moment that I walked into the mall with an entire wing dedicated to faucets. But the first shop in the mall had given me the same result and the same old suggestion.
Now at the food court I pondered my choices. There was a time in life when I repaired everything — be it footwear, house lock or a water tap! Fixing problems was easier than buying new stuff. I am not sure when the new trend of chucking the old for new began.
Now at the food court I felt tired. It is lonely to be in a space when repairing a tap reflected either insanity or poverty and it definitely invited strange glances and unnecessary advice.
I guess there are some things that money can’t buy — one such thing is to replace an old filter with a new one.
I knew what I had to do. I walked back to the shop and bought a new tap. Perhaps I have to move along with the times.
Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai.