By Subhashri Acharya, 10
Have you ever been locked out of your house because you left your housekeys behind inside the house? It’s happened to many people I know. Who do you go to? The local keymaker of course.
In Bandra, where I live, you can see many keymakers on the pavements. All of them use colourful handpainted signs to advertise themselves.
But the one who gets noticed most is Javed Khan. His ad is a giant, bright yellow and red key hanging from a tree. You can see it from really far away.
Javed Khan has been making keys for 35 years now. He says he began making keys when he was just ten years old. Sometimes he gets many customers. Some days he gets a lot less. Human beings keep losing the many different keys they have in their lives – the car keys, the keys to the cupboard, two-wheeler keys, keys to a safe or a locker.
He says he makes anything from five to fifteen keys in a day. He showed us a huge bunch of old keys and different sets of key blanks. When anyone comes to him to make a duplicate, he cuts the key blanks into the required shape. Sometimes when you do not have a key at all because you have lost it, he can measure the keyhole and make a key for you.
He uses many tools to make keys. When he is making a duplicate, he uses a special prong to measure the distance between the notches in a key. Then he cuts and files the duplicate key according to the measurements he has taken. He uses different files to shape keys.
Sometimes he uses this machine to cut the notches in the key. He ordered it all the way from Delhi. It costs Rs20,000! It uses two things to make a copy of a key in less than a minute — a sensor and a cutter.
Are you wondering how much it would cost to make a key? Anything from Rs5 to Rs40, depending on the key.
We gave him a key to make a duplicate of and he made it in eight minutes ten seconds flat.
I asked him what if some thief or a criminal comes to him to get a key made, can he make out if someone has bad intentions? Khan said that it is very difficult to make out. But if gets suspicious of someone because of wrong signals or vibes, he just refuses to make a key.
Javed Khan told us he is from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh in north India. He says people in his family have been making keys for many years. His uncle was a keymaker too. He likes to live in Bombay because the climate is always pleasant here.
Watch a video report of this story on Jalebi Ink’s YouTube channel:
The Keymaker on YouTube