Thursday, April 03, 2008

Man on the move

If you have a tyre puncture, call K.S. Jijeesh on his mobile and he will be next to your vehicle within minutes

By Shevlin Sebastian

The phone call comes at 7.30 p.m. on a Tuesday. Businessman Matthew Andrews says that a tyre of his car has suffered a puncture. K.S. Jijeesh, 28, says that he will come the next morning at 9.45 a.m.

Right on schedule, on Wednesday morning, Jijeesh arrives at Good Earth Harmony on Ayesha Road. Matthew owns a white Ford Fiesta and Jijeesh checks the front left-side tyre and, within seconds, spots the culprit: a nail embedded in the middle of the tyre.

He unscrews the tyre and rolls it out. With a foot air pump, he proceeds to fill the tyre. After that, he pulls out the nail with a pair of pliers. It is only ¼” in length. “Since it is a tubeless tyre, this nail might have gone in more than two weeks ago,” says Jijeesh.

“Possibly correct,” says Matthew. Jijeesh inserts a rubber stick into the hole and soon, the tyre is screwed back on to the car. “This mobile service is very helpful,” says Matthew. “Jijeesh has worked in a fast and efficient manner. I am impressed.” Jijeesh blushes, as he collects the fee of Rs 80. Then Matthew asks Jijeesh to give him some visiting cards so that he could distribute it to his friends.

Matthew came to know about Jijeesh by a board placed inside a petrol pump, Edathamara Petroleum Co., on the Kaloor Kadavanthra Road. He noted down the mobile number knowing that one day he might need Jijeesh’s services.

Jijeesh operates the only mobile tyre puncture repair service in the Kadavanthra area. He has set up his shop, actually, several tyres, one placed on top of the other, at the Vijaya Junction, near the Volga Tourist Home. Next to the tyres is parked a Kinetic scooter and an autorickshaw, both advertising the mobile number: 9249388176.

“Initially, the calls were few, but now I get about 8 to 10 calls a day,” says Jijeesh. E.G. Damodaran Namboothiri, 62, the manager of the Edathamara petrol pump, says he recommended Jijeesh’s name because of his mobile phone facility. “Several customers have expressed their satisfaction at his work,” he says.

Incidentally, Jijeesh has a limited operational area: a radius of 3 kms. Asked why he chose this particular spot in Kadavanthra, since he lives in Tripunithara, he says, “This is a business and commercial area. There are also a large number of car owners who live in areas like Gandhi Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Giri Nagar, Panampilly Nagar and Kadavanthra. The possibility of getting a lot of customers is high.”

As he talks, he gets a call. It is a cloth shop owner from Kadavanthra who has suffered a bike puncture. Would Jijeesh come immediately? “Yes,” he says, as he starts his scooter. “Most of the calls I receive are for two-wheeler punctures.”

To repair a two-wheeler puncture, unlike a tubeless tyre repair job, takes time. You have to detach the tyre, take out the tube, put a patch on it, and then put it back again. “It takes a minimum of 20 minutes and I charge Rs 50,” he says.

As to what causes these numerous punctures, he says, “Either a nail has gone in, or the tube has a manufacturing defect.” Sometimes, rubber patches placed on earlier punctures tend to come off in the heat. “Several local companies make tubes, but it is usually of a sub-standard quality,” he says. “Hence, you can have a puncture at any time.”

Not surprisingly, most of the distress calls are from marketing professionals. “Since they are on the road all the time, there is a greater chance of a puncture,” he says. But Jijeesh also has some celebrity clients. One of them is film director Sibi Malayil, 50.

One day, Malayil was traveling in his Santro car when it suffered a puncture. “I remembered a friend of mine had given me Jijeesh’s number,” he says. “So, I called him up and he arrived immediately.”

Malayil says that a person like Jijeesh is very helpful because it is difficult to tow a car to a tyre shop and most of the time, “we are unable to change the tyre ourselves.” The director says he has saved Jijeesh’s number on his mobile phone, in case he needs helps again.

Jijeesh hit upon the idea of starting a mobile service by accident. Once, in 2003, he had gone to visit an ailing friend in a hospital. There, he noticed that a doctor’s car had a puncture. After a while, a man arrived on a bicycle and repaired the puncture.

“I thought it was a good idea,” he says. “Instead of the doctor pushing the car to the tyre repair shop, a man came to the car.” A couple of years later, while he was working in the wheel alignment section of JK Tyres at Vytilla, customers would persistently call him after work to repair two and four-wheeler punctures. “That was when I decided I would start a mobile service of my own,” he says. He embarked on his solo operation on June 10, 2007.

Today, he is smiling all the way to the bank, as he is earning far more than if he had been working for a firm.

Quick Facts

Name: K.S. Jijeesh

Job Profile: Repairs punctures of two and four-wheelers. Just call on his mobile and he will arrive.

Mobile number: 9249388176.

Area of operation: Kadavanthra, with a radius of 3 kms: till the National Highway 47 on the east; MG Road on the west, Kaloor Road on the north and the passport office at Panampilly Nagar on the south.

Rates for repairs: Rs 80 for tubeless car tyres, Rs 50 for two wheelers.

Working hours: 8.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Off day: Sunday

(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express)


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