news Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 05:30

Many people may have noticed a man apparently searching for something missing on one of the busiest roads of Bengaluru. Regular commuters on that road may even have noticed him on more than one occasion, but none of them stopped to ask him what it was that he had lost. Benedict Jebakumar hasn’t actually lost anything. For the last three years, he has, in a manner of speaking, developed the unusual hobby of collecting nails on a particular stretch of the Outer Ring Road of the city. Jebakumar’s ‘hobby’ may be unusual, but his reasons for it are not that difficult to understand. Since 2012, Jebakumar has accumulated around five kilos of nails, all of them, picked up when cycling or riding his bike from Banashankari to his office in ECO Space in Outer Ring Road. Last week alone he says he counted 500, after painstakingly spending 45 minutes in ensuring that he got every last nail. This isn’t the first time Jebakumar has done this. The 41-year old IT professional has been combing the stretch on Outer Ring Road (ORR) since 2012 to prevent himself and others from falling prey to flat tyres. What was started as an effort to save himself from the trouble, soon turned into doing a public service that would help others too. When Jebakumar moved from Tamil Nadu to Bengaluru, he noticed small nails lying scattered on the road. Assuming that they must have been dropped by someone accidentally, Jebakumar ignored them for the first few days. When the problem persisted, he started taking the service road next to the ORR to avoid the “nail menace”, as he calls it. However, here too he faced the same problem. After his bike experienced six tyre punctures in matter of 3-4 weeks near Silk Board, Jebakumar came to the conclusion that the nails were “placed” on the road deliberately. Nails that were spotted by Jebakumar on 16 March 2015 Soon, he realised that it wasn’t a coincidence that there were several “mobile-auto puncture shops” along the ORR, which charged anywhere between Rs. 300-400 for a tube replacement and generally sold a local unbranded tube to customers to allegedly fleece money. “I’ve seen people waiting in queues at these shops because that’s how many punctures occur every day,” Jebakumar says. For the next two years, a magnetic stick was his magic wand. He would often stop on his way to his office near Sarjapur and pick up the nails. He simultaneously began documenting his treasures on a Facebook page called ‘My road, my responsibility’. Asked how his wife deals with this habit, he says that sometimes when they go out together, she gets exasperated at his frequent stops, but is supportive. In September 2014, the Bengaluru city police arrested one person who owned a mobile puncture shop on suspicion that he was behind the nail menace, Jebakumar claims. In March this year, the city police caught another man red-handed as he was throwing nails onto the road. After regularly combing the road near Agara lake flyover, Jebakumar felt he had accomplished a major feat when he realised there were no more nails left on the road. Even when he is riding a bike, Jebakumar seldom fails to spot a nail. “It’s like my brain and my eyes are auto-tuned to spot nails on the road,” he laughs. Another advantage is that most of these nails lie in cluster which makes the work easier, he adds. Jebakumar warns that in the recent past, the menace is not just restricted to ORR, his colleagues often report spotting nails even in other areas. He hopes that authorities regulate the issue of licenses to such puncture shops while keeping a tab on their activities so that there is “no mafia”. When asked if passers-by stopped to enquire what he was doing or offered to help him, for the first time he realised that nobody actually stopped by him. “It is such a fast-paced world that nobody has even observed that there is man wandering about a busy main road in search of something. They have not even noticed that these nails are potential threats to their vehicles,” he says. He has now stored them in his house, should the police ever require it as evidence. Image courtesy: All images have been taken from Facebook page - My road, My responsibility by Benedict Jebakumar   Also read: The Humorous Deccani Hindi channel revolutionizing news

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