Once upon a time there was a cobbler… Oops!! This story just can not have a beginning like this. Though I concede that we live in an ever changing world but there are times when you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a plot. The situation becomes worse when you realize that you are one amongst many causing troubles to the protagonist. But it seems that it is best to just tell this story with no presumptions.
It was yesterday when I was walking down the road to my office, I noticed that the lower sole of my Reebok shoes was coming out. I fairly liked the design of these shoes- the look of being sporty and contemporary- with lower sole extending a little ahead in the front of the shoes- and happily paid Reebok a sum of more than Rs. 2000 some 15 months back. And now here I am with my shoes sounding “chap chap” with each forward step.
I decided to get my shoes repaired by a cobbler instead of throwing these in some dustbin so early in their life. Near my office under a tree sits a cobbler with his anvil and other tools, wearing a white kurta- dhoti and a turban on his head. He seemed pretty archaic from his looks and fits no where in the concept of “ever changing times”. Probably that might be the reason why I dared to start the story initially with a phrase like “Once upon a time” but anyways the climax has yet to be told, so I better stay focused :).
The cobbler welcomed me as the first customer of the day. Both of us obviously did not know what we were getting into. I explained him the case with my Reebok shoes with few extra instructions from my side. He picked up my shoes and first tried to apply adhesive between the lower sole and the rubber cushioning but it didn’t work. He tried this again with a little more adhesive but the sole would not even come closer to the rubber cushioning. I could see his labor as he tried hard to press the two surfaces against each other while sitting in an awkward posture as for the Reebok shoes, they could not sit on his anvil. After a little while he decided to stitch the sole as an extra measure to keep it firmly supported on the rubber cushioning. He started with good faith in his idea only to discover a little later that the nature of the material used was too different and at the ends where he had to fasten a knot, he could not get his fingers inside the shoes close enough to do so. Somehow at last, he fastened the knot but I could clearly see that there was no finish.
There is of course a happy end to this story (often questionable though) too. I paid him what he asked for as his fees, Rs 20 (1 % of the original cost of the shoes) and left the place.
I was wondering whose story actually had a happy ending – a Cobbler’s one who is accustomed to be a part of a cyclic- self sustaining system or a Reebok’s one – companies which follow a highly linear process of production with no share for anyone in the system? In my mind, I carefully skipped the question of who is responsible as it risks involving myself as a consumer too.