There is a 42-year-old engineer, Benedict Jebakumar, in Bengaluru, who developed a strange obsession with collecting nails from the road. But the more you look into the reasons behind this fixation, the more you will appreciate the man for his perseverance and persistence.
This routine of collecting nails off the road while commuting to his office at Eco Space on Outer Ring Road from his home at Banashankari on a cycle began five years ago. He has collected around 75kg of nails since then. In the beginning, while going to his office, he would encounter a flat tyre every now and then. To what he considered his luck, there would always be a puncture repair shop nearby. Gradually, he realised that the coincidence of a repair shop always readily available whenever he had a flat tyre was too fishy and couldn't be accidental. Benedict faced this flat tyre fiasco six times in just four weeks himself.
Benedict took matters into his own hands and soon began to pick these nails off the road while going to office. But new sharp, pointy nails would mysteriously appear the next day.
He then decided to fight a silent battle against this menace. He started fishing for these nails on the road while peddling and soon developed an impressive 'nail radar'. One of his friends and a mentor suggested he document his journey on social media to reach out to the authorities and more people. In a conversation with The Quint, he said,
"I began to make use of social media to connect with the officials. I used to regularly tweet to the Bengaluru City Police and the BBMP. In a couple of instances, the police arrested two persons red-handed, but the problem still persists."
Benedict initially collected the nails manually, but then his son gave him a magnet to ease the process. Now, he is using a modified fishing road with an attached magnet at the end as his handy tool. Benedict is now always on the lookout for these nails and there is not any nail that goes unnoticed by him. While talking to The News Minute, he said,
"It’s like my brain and my eyes are auto-tuned to spot nails on the road. Another advantage is that most of these nails lie in clusters which makes the work easier."
A man stopping and looking for nails in the middle of a busy road would obviously be noticed by others. When asked about this, he told The News Minute
"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."
After five years of this dedicated attempt to make roads nail-free, he will now have to stop as he is leaving Bengaluru and moving to his hometown in Tamil Nadu, where he will pursue fishery, his passion. He just hopes that someone else is going to take over this responsibility.