Tue 30 Sep 2014


Mr. Misri Ram, Shoecare Professional. Originally from Bihar, India, he learned English “for business” — a savvy man.

Another nice day — my first day in Pokhara with not a drop of rain! No major activities today. I handled some business, e.g. settling my bill with the hotel, picking up my laundry, doing some banking, and booking into a six-day trek in the Annapurna Conservation Area.

I once again did a lot of walking around Lakeside. The shoeshine man, sitting cross-legged on a small piece of fabric near a telephone pole, greeted me as usual. He called out, “shine for you today, sir!” but once he saw my flip-flops he decided there was not enough real estate there to get a good shine. He was the consummate salesman, always smiling and saying “Namaste,” or “Ni Hau,” and if his prospective customer said, “no, thank you,” he always smiled and said, “maybe tomorrow.”

In fact in my case he was a bit too zealous and if I had heeded his advice my boots may not have been up to the rigors of my upcoming trek. You see, he shined my boots a few days back, and did a fine job. However, as he was finishing, up, he had a concerned look on his face and said, “Sir, here you have stitching, it is coming off!” I was worried, as these were practically new boots, and furthermore, I was planning to rely on them for several days of trekking across mountainous terrain. I looked closely and…wait! there was no actual stitching in the area he was pointing, only a sort of simulated stitching where the rubber sole was glued to the upper. I may not be a shoe expert, but I know that this sort of stitching does not come off, since it is fake to begin with!

But he persisted, and began to get out a fat needle and some thick, sturdy brown twine, saying, “good price, I give you good price!” Now I was worried, but for a different reason. “No, no please, it’s OK, no, not today, just the shine today please!” I somehow managed to get my well-polished boots back on my feet before he poked hundreds of holes in them with his heavy-duty needle. I narrowly avoided having my waterproof Rockports turned into two shiny, black leather sieves!