The story of a humble cobbler and a pair of rude shoes

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.

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Everywhere is nowhere!

“Everywhere is nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

This observation was made around 5 A.D. by the Roman philosopher Seneca about human relations and how do they get affected by the distances between the human beings. He said “people who separated physically would often separate socially and emotionally as well.”

I find this a suitable critique in the present context of social networks. Each and every online site – whether it be MySpace, Orkut, FaceBook or ibibo – or an ad of a touch screen mobile phone where a cricketer endorses its use by saying that it facilitates people to stay in touch – looks like an empty cloud. We do have parallel and efficient modes of communication but at the same time- it has resulted in a casual outlook towards human relationships… the vary difference between acquaintances and friendships is so visible. With ever growing list of “friends” in one’s “social” network and with each of us confirming “multiple friends request” every day; the idea of having a relationship has become shallow. I am sure its a challenge for language too, to define these newer forms of relationships – which obviously can’t actually be friendships but are said as one in absence of a proper word.

A dreamy morning

I woke up this morning at around 7 … had a bath and then somehow again went to sleep only to woke up at 9  to rush to my office. Within this time, I had quite an unusual dream, and it goes like this.

I was climbing up the staircase to get to my flat…  but the steps were getting smaller and smaller with lesser and lesser foot space to use. This didn’t affect me much in the beginning as it seemed like a visual illusion to me but it did slow me down. I just continued as I had to get to my flat after returning from a day’s work. Slowly and slowly quite alike “Alice climbing up the tree to get to the wonderland”, I got to a point where all the steps finally vanished and I found myself gaping through a ventilation window into someone’s drawing room. Even those present in the room, a family of possibly 3 members were surprised seeing a stranger looking at them through the ventilation window but they quickly resettled as if nothing had actually happened. They gave me a feeling that they had many such experiences. As if they knew that the staircase end at their ventilation window. So every now and then they had some stranger looking at them. If I recall  there were three people in the room, a man in his early 40s with his wife and a kid around 12-13 years old with chubby cheeks.

I knew that I had a flat in this building and the only way to get there were those strange staircase. So I had no option but to follow whatever came next. I stepped into their house with an excuse on my face, telling to myself that its OK to use their house to get to my flat. Apparently the family stayed quite indifferent too.  They kept doing whatever they were busy with. For few seconds, I sat on the couch with the kid.. trying to dust off my clothes. I also gather the stuff which I had dropped on the floor while I was jumping down from the ventilation opening. While I was taking this little break I saw that the family had exactly the same cap and also the same model of the cellphone as mine. So for once when I got hold of my stuff, I was a little confused about its ownership. But then I had to make my move. I got up, pressed chubby cheeks of this kid and gently stepped out of their house. By this time, I woke up and my dream ended!

I was really surpirsed by this dream and was wondering how could I remember it so well. Its very rare with me that I could remember any of my bedtime dreams.