This is my tenth year in India and it has never ceased to amaze me. My understanding of India was built through the Indian cinema, newspapers, photographs and stories told by my parents. Definitely the diaspora abroad is very distinct. But for the people NRI’s from Gulf are nearer to Indian culture as in they feel Gulf is more or less in Kerala or India ( Kerala because there is a general perception that Gulf is flooded with mallus):) . So when I say I lived abroad its like I was always here. I felt the same too but such experiences made me understand how far I was. Two movies I watched recently drew my attention to these real heroes. Welcome to Sajjanpur which talks of a letter writer who makes a living in a village writing letters in this internet era was one of them. Delhi six which showed a glimpse of Delhi from an NRI’s eyes was another. Both brought back my glimpses of India. So here are some sights which marveled me. What I describe would be something common to most of you but for me they were delightful, indescribable experiences I ever had. India rocks!
To think of it this country is as much his as yours and mine. He makes our varied heritage even colorful .The enthusiasm with which he prescribes you solutions to patch, mend and transform your chappals, shoes and sandals for 10 rs would mesmerize you. He is our favorite mochi, cheripukuthi, cobbler whatever you can call him. If you are not one of those who would throw away a chappal for one missing stitch here is your doctor. Where I grew up this luxury was not available hence if you bought foot wear today and it tore the next day its fate was the dust bin. When I was first asked to go to a cobbler my eyes grew wide. To me it was a term I read in stories. More than getting my foot wear repaired I was excited to meet one of my story characters in real. To me he was a real hero. And ever since he is my mentor. There isn’t a problem he has no solution for and to think he has not learnt the foot wear technology.
It might sound unbelievable that a guy earns his living this way in this globalised world. But in his world he is the KING. As Paramu a cobbler in Broadway told me once “this shop has seen them all politicians, college students, call centre executives, policemen, trade unionists, priests. My shop is very secular and democratic and I am one person who can make them all wait, make them all stand awkwardly. You must see the postures they take when one foot wear is mended or polished. After all what would they do with just one pair of foot wear?”