Back to Type: How Goa’s Last Typewriter Repair Shop Denies the Digital Age Global Development

In The capital of Goa, Panji, not far from the main post office, is at Rousseau Sao Tome, a shop that offers packaging services. For a small fee, they will wrap your parcel in a muslin sewing sheet with stitches to prevent damage to the contents of the post.

It started as the store’s main business venture, but is now a major earner for Luis Francisco Miguel de Abreu as he maintains one of the last typewriter repair shops in the Indian state. Is struggling for

Inside the store, several typewriters sit in different repair states and look like museum pieces. One Hermes, one Remington and one Godrej Prema from an Indian manufacturer who was the last company in the world to make typewriters.

Louis Abreu, son of Domingos Abreu and current shop owner.
“As long as the main door is open, I have to do it. “I prefer to go to the end,” said Louis Abreu, the shop’s owner. Photographer: Chrysler de Silva Dias

Abreu, 78, sits in a chair surrounded by paperwork, spare parts and memories. His father, Domingos Abreu, was employed in Mumbai by American typewriter maker Remington Rand before he moved back to Goa and started his own service and repair firm in 1938.

“My older brother wanted to study engineering and there were no schools or colleges here, so he had to go to Portugal.” “You needed good marks and money. I could go too but I stayed back to study and help my father in the shop.

When his father opened the shop, Goa was still under Portuguese control, which colonized the area in 1510 and held power until 1961. “I went here, to this place,” says Abreu. “There was nothing here at the time. We had a muddy road with horses and ox carts. There was a restaurant here with rice, curry.” And vegetables were sold, not fish. ”

Today, the state is a busy tourist destination, with a modern restaurant or fish curry shared on every street and selfies being taken at every colorful door.

In December 1961, the last ship left Goa for those who wanted to return to Portugal when it was annexed by the Indian Army and became part of the Republic. “We heard that Joe de Lisboa [a Portuguese warship] Who came and who wants to go [to Portugal] “I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave my establishment and my father.”

Named after Abrio’s father, the shop, called Domingos Abrio, was a hotbed of typewriter sales and repairs. “All the big mining companies – Dempos, Chogols – government departments, even the military: they’ve all come here,” says Abreu, “but business has stopped now.”

Typewriters were once the backbone of India’s famous bureaucracy. From government offices to the courts, he was a key symbol of modernity in independent India.

Professional typists work by the roadside near a stock exchange in New Delhi, India. There are thousands of professional typists in the country, mostly working outside the country's courts and government offices.
Professional typists work in a roadside office near the stock exchange in Delhi. There are thousands of professional typists in the country. Photographer: Bernat Armango / AP

Typing and shorthand schools transferred thousands of graduates ready to work as secretaries. Some of them are still present in rural areas, teaching shorthand with keyboard skills for computers. “I think it was a mistake to close the institute. Things would have been different if they had been open. A lot of people have told me that our kids can’t type fast – they’re typing with one finger,” he said. Not yet

Melgris de Costa, 70, has been running the De Costa Commercial Institute in Gwen, Ponda since 1977. He offers shorthand and typing classes for computer and manual typewriters. There is no one to take after him. “No one wants to learn on typewriters anymore,” he says.

Although brands such as Remington and Olivity were popular in India, Godrej & Boyce made typewriters for the first time in India from 1955 to 2011, when mobile phones and computers became increasingly accessible. That part of the business is obsolete. However, the unavailability of new typewriters and spare parts has not dampened the enthusiasm of key sound lovers. Abreo still receives requests for repair and service machines, and the business has grown in number since the end of the first code lockdown in Goa.

The state is now in another partial lockdown, which means the workshop is closed. Abreu says Covewood has been “an honor and a barrier” to his business.

“Everyone was cleaning things up during the lockdown, and we got a lot of machines to look at,” said Natasha, Abrew’s daughter, who helps out at the store. “We get clients from all over the country. There are a lot of tourists who come to our shop on foot. They go home and bring back vintage typewriters that they want to use or display. “

But typewriters have very low profits. “I wasted a lot of money securing a large company’s dealership,” says Abreu. “The company took a deposit from me but it’s gone now. No refunds, nothing.”

Spare parts are also hard to find, and eyebrow fading and other health issues make repairs difficult. “I can do some basic repairs,” says Natasha. The rest is more complicated for me. A local man, Anton Rebello, has also been trained to do some repairs.

The story of Louis Abreu, a typewriter
A typewriter in Domingos Abreu in Punjabi. The supply of spare parts is very low. Photographer: Chrysler de Silva Dias

Parcel service is now the most lucrative. “What else could we do?” Says Abreu. “There were no sales or services,” he said [work] So we started packaging. It was a good business in the beginning, but now they have introduced new rules, which means you have to go to the post office, show what is in the package, declare it for customs, and then Sew and seal the package in the presence of . My daughter does it now. “

But the future is uncertain. “I’m just a Louis Abreu. How long can a man walk? As long as the main door is open, I have to do it. I prefer to go to the end.

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