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Jaykay and I

I have this charmingly gorgeous typewriter that has been sitting at home for over 10 years now. I found it outside of a scrap shop in one of the bylanes of Chennai and instantly fell in love with it. Yes, I bought it and has been with me ever since.

Did some research and found out that I was the lucky owner of a Jaykay typewriter with the serial no: 59360. This model is based on the West German Brosette, manufactured in Calcutta, India. Jaykay Business Machines Ltd initially was Blackwood’s India Ltd. On June 1, 1960, the Blackwood’s Co. earned an industry license for the production and Jaykay was born! The production of “Jaykay” writing machines were incorporated with Indian capital, Indian labor and under Indian administration, without any foreign technical, financial or other cooperation. The Jaykay is made from 91% Indian parts, and only 9% foreign parts.

Jaykay wasn't working when I got it, but I ended up clanking away on it just to listen to the beautiful musical typewritery sounds. And no, I did not grow up in the typewriter era (I am not that ancient yet. Though the other day, my younger daughter couldn't grasp at the fact that anyone could be born in the '70s or '80s. She kept saying, "No, mummy, I want to know your YEAR of BIRTH....2000 and WHAT?" As if her emphasizing those words will get me to change my year of birth. I wouldn't complain if it was a possibility though!). And I just love the clanking and clinking sounds of a typewriter. It just has this magical feel that can transport one back to this bygone era that was just at an arm's length but only got farther and farther - that time when a tinge of color was seeping through the sepia. I wasn't there but I know it was beautiful! My Jaykay - it's portable, has a qwerty keyboard and was made to export. Must have been the 'in' thing then. A trivia here: The keyboard strangely does not have an exclamation mark!!! Things just weren't surprising then, I guess!!!

I can not even begin to imagine the journey this Jaykay has gone through, the stories it must have told and the stories it would tell if only it could! And so as part of my 2019 new year resolution, I started with my 'Project Jaykay' to repair and restore my typewriter (mainly because "Project Lose Weight' just wasn't working out).

Finally found 'The Minerva Typewriter Syndicate' in Chennai. An excited Mr.Subramaniam landed at my doorstep within 2 hours of our conversation. He inspected Jaykay. I thought I saw a glimpse of a smile at one point and a few frowns and finally, he spoke - "I can repair it for you". And he told me about his business and how he was the sole wholesaler for Godrej typewriters those days. He went on to very enthusiastically' educate me about the different models of typewriters and the specialties about my model. He repaired the machine for me but told me that the case is beyond repair.

I was just too happy to have a working typewriter that the case did not bother me much. My girls and I typed. And typed. And typed. I was sure that Jaykay must have cried tears of joy that day! I mean, who wouldn't? After gathering dust for over 10 years here at my home and who knows, how many years outside of that scrap shop, I would imagine Jaykay would have felt atleast some of what we felt or more. It really was quite an emotional day!

Soon after we settled back into normalcy, the case started bothering me. Took it to leather repair shops, carpenters, tailors, bakers....just about anyone that I thought could restore it. Nothing worked.

But I wasn't going to abandon my project. Not now! I had to do something on my own. And I did. I went and learned this amazing technique - decoupage, from my good friend, Aishwarya. Had to have enough practice before I could risk my Jaykay. A couple of bottles later (not of drinking but of decoupaging) I declared myself ready for this challenge.

I stripped off the leather cover of the typewriter's case and was pleasantly surprised to see the box made of wood. I mean it was only logical for it to have been wood but somehow I hadn't thought of it and then came the dilemma - should I polish it or decoupage it. I decided to stick with decoupage. Polish would be my Plan B. To cut the long story short, I did not have to explore Plan B.

And so there! The case and the machine repair and restoration - Done! 'Project Jaykay' has been very close to my heart and I couldn't help but share it here.

Tom Robbins says, "At the typewriter, you find out who you are". In discovering, repairing and restoring Jaykay, I found a space to reconnect with myself and thus, with you!

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