Repair in America

-Telugu Original by Dr K.Geeta

-English Translation by V.Vijaya Kumar

When Surya first came on a business trip to America, He asked me “What gift do you want me to bring from America?

It’s been two months since Nidhi was born. Those were not the days with cell phones with powerful cameras. I felt a video camera would be a great gift to preserve every moment of the growth of our baby. I told him the same. I recorded every movement and treasured it in a safe place.

But two years later, the camcorder stopped working. We roamed carrying it to every service center in Hyderabad. Every time we paid two to three thousand bills again we took it to the service center after it started giving trouble after some time.

I packed the video camera without forgetting when we were all packing up for the USA, at least it would be repaired in the shop he bought.

“What’s it, do you hope this Camcorder will get repaired well and work? Better forget it.” Surya said cynically looking at the piece in the suitcase.

We spent thousands on it! How can I forget the cute piece that treasured our baby’s beautiful memories? Surya always argues with me about it. 

“Priya! You think sensitively even when you need to think practically.”

Surya says.

 I’m not sure if that’s true, but I’m glad I did not have to worry about what he said instead of saying with a sneer, “You’re obsessed with things.” So, I simply smiled and kept quiet.

I switched over on my mission with the receipt I treasured, searching the address on Google, once Surya left for the office.

I stood behind ten in the customer service center queue line.

After a while, it was my turn. They looked at me blankly looking at a receipt that was four years old, not deciding either to laugh or to cry at me, they said finally that they take back the things only within 90 days of purchase, and if insurance coverage has opted, they take two years responsibility for a repair and when all the options are gone, the company can only do anything.  

I approached the repair counter next to them for details and after another half an hour they simply said,  “Look, Miss, it’s supposed to be shipped to New York. It costs $ 100 to send there and to get it back it costs 500 dollars. The latest model is cheaper than this. So you better go for it “

Surya was laughing at my pitiable condition when I got home.  

“It’s America, nobody’s here to repair it, “Surya said.

I kept it, is packed in a carton box in miscellaneous items not tossing it away.

In the meantime, when I forced it open backward, a pin between the screen and keyboard on my laptop broke.

Surya started saying, “A new laptop…” 

“What? Will they charge hundreds even for such a small thing in America? I searched online and went to a Computer Repair Shop. 

The shopkeeper looked carefully at my laptop and said,” These pins are sold only by the company. We have to place an order and fetch it. Yet, If we attach this pin it may not stick properly. That’s why we usually send the company’s laptops to their authorized service center. And then they will send it from there…and the bill will be approximately…” 

I became impatient and distressed listening to him.

The laptop is working fine except for that negligible pin. But if we use it without that pin, the wires in the middle may likely be broken and there may be a chance of total damage. So there are two options, either to repair the existing one or buy a new one.  Eventually, we decided to buy a new one.


Catherine called.  

She said, “Priya!  Inquire whether your younger one Alicia needs any furniture! We want to give away our dining table, sofa set, and TV to someone.  

“Of course, I do, but I can’t guarantee whether they are affordable to her or not!” I hinted.

“Nope, not like that! We just give away freely, not for money!” 

“Oh! Freely?”

“Yes! We bought them five years ago. Recently we bought a new house, you know. This old furniture is not fit for the new house. I do not like this old furniture for the new house. I put it on online sites for sale for two to three months. But no one bought it. No one in our colony would take these even though we put them on the curbside and labeled them “FREE” on them! I don’t wish my furniture in pieces in the garbage bin”

“I’ll ask,” I said.  

That evening I asked Alicia.  

She burst into a laugh and asked me to follow her. She took me with her.

On the other side of the road adjacent to our apartment, there is a big color TV with a label ‘free’ on the curb.

“Have you seen it there? TV in good condition, when they go for a new model, they drop in this way with that ‘free’ label. Nobody goes for them. Everyone is after a new model. Who cares about these scraps?

If we want to get that sofa set and dining table, we have to hire a truck and two carrying men.  It costs $ 100 for a man and another two hundred dollars for a truck”

It’s easy to buy furniture in this country, but getting rid of them is hard.  After all, if Catherine wants to donate that furniture there will be agencies to pick it up, but they charge some amount even to take it away!

The next day I met Catherine and said it and asked, “Are there any repair outlets there that are a bit cheaper?

She led me to the garage on the ground floor below their house, silently.

Their garage was like a mechanic’s shed, the spanners were neatly arranged and hung on the walls.

Everyone in this country must rely upon themselves to repair things such as fixing wood for fencing and changing the tubes. But for electronic goods, we have to search for others even for pretty simple services. 

 But in most cases, the repair labor costs will be higher than the actual repair, Priya!  So, we usually think that it is better to buy a new one instead of a repaired one.  

But… I said, “To me, I think it would be better to do some repairs before going to throw it, at least.”  

I began to talk about my recent experience.

“Do you know what happened the day before? Our old model Washer and Dryer suddenly jammed. It costs up to a thousand dollars to buy a new washer. That is why we opted to go for a repair. Repairing it near an authorized dealer can cost up to $ 500.  So I searched Craigslist and called for a free estimate of a local repairman who could work not on an hourly basis but a complete repair. The gentleman who came one morning with the repair equipment in a truck thoroughly worked until noon to repair it. He pulled out the old circuit board and said, “It’s gone, a new buy charges you 400 dollars, I’d an old similar one, it costs you 70 dollars if you Ok it I change”

I nodded.

He went to the one he had in the truck and fetched. Took thirty dollars to fix it. Everything went well and with just a 100 dollar bill it’s working awesome even 6 months later. Since then, my faith in repair has increased.  

Labor charges, however, would be as low as thirty or sixty.  Another complication is that people who render services at home are not available for Computers, cameras, TVs, etc.

All these things that need to be repaired should be attended to barely before the insurance time expires and are otherwise gone!” 


I came home and parked the car in the garage. I saw the owner of the car changing tires. He unbolted the four wheels and got ready to fix the new ones.

When I paid attention to his work he said, ‘Hello’

I’ll see how to change the tires,” I said curiously. 

“Sure,” he said with a smile.

The next day our car got into trouble. We have no roadside insurance assistance.

I made a call to our regular mechanic.

He asked us to bring it to the shed and said, it can not be possible at home.

I switched over to search Craigslist until noon and called a mechanic who came home for a total of $ 50 labor charge. All he did was find fault with the battery and buy a new battery with the amount I gave him. The job finished in a fraction of seconds and it made me sick. After all, it’s a matter of simple skill; one can easily do it if learned. I sighed about losing our money just for not learning a petty skill.

“I must learn the repairs”, I sighed.

Smiling at me Surya said, “There is no point in learning to repair a car, or rather it’s not as easy as you think it is, say something practical!”  

“Priya! Why do you think sensitively even where you need to think practically?”  

He started his exhortation as usual.


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