Seems a bit crappy to start a new blog on a (kind of) negative note, but what the heck… here goes!!
So, I’m sitting at the side of the road near my house at the roadside cobbler’s and he’s busy finishing up his work (he was polishing my leather shoes) and this guy comes up from somewhere and puts his foot/shoe on the cobbler’s shoe last (this is the 3-legged iron thingie; I just found the name for this today :D). The guy was Nepali, about 5’5″ ish, in his early 30’s with short black hair and wore a green sweater under a black jacket and blue jeans and black shoes.
The guy (let’s call him the bully from now on) then tells the cobbler to polish shoe and “do it quickly” (in Nepali of course). The cobbler doesn’t look up, continues to work on my shoe and says that he will finish off mine first. The bully then starts grumbling a bit and repeats his demand (while ignoring me). In the meantime another older person comes nearby and starts talking to the bully in a different dialect and the bully replies, “Yeah look at this m*******r, look at him showing off!”, “Oi, shine my shoes quick!”. The poor cobbler continues to look down and shine my shoes (which are seeming to take forever to shine).
The bully now starts to sing, “[something something] English mein kehte hai, I love you” (in English…) which I have just googled to find that it is this old song. After one long verse, he reverts back to “Oi shine mine quick, I don’t have time to wait!”. Thankfully my shoes are now practically sparkling in the early evening light and the cobbler turns his attention to the bully’s black shoes (which have some odd wingtip designs).
A quick shine and the bully trundles off to godknows where without paying. By this time we have me, the cobbler, the older guy and another guy who has come to fix his shoes as well. I look at the cobbler and he smiles back with a what-to-do look. “These kind of people should just go and die,” he says and hands me my shoes.
I pay the man and leave and the next customer has already taken my place. I scan the dusty road for the bully but he’s long gone and so is the older guy.
My lack of action bothers me, but I honestly didn’t want to antagonize the bully. Although his verbal abuse (and seemingly implied threat of further abuse) was bad, he wasn’t physically assaulting the cobbler which I would not have ignored. I was also in my flip-flops which are not designed for street rumbles or for running (both away or after). The nearest police station is near the Jawalakhel roundabout.
I’m also not a regular customer (how often do you need to visit a cobbler??) and I’m sure that the bully is a regular visitor. Even if I had gotten him to back off, what would happen tomorrow when I wasn’t there? Or the day after? Or …?
Hindsight is a b****… 🙁
After I got home, I asked our maid if there are a lot of gundas (bad dudes, criminals, people with bad intents, etc.) and she said yes. Apparently Jawalakhel is full of them!! I had heard from my gym/fitness club that they once had an problem because the local “dons” were patrons there (and I’m assuming that they weren’t the paying type like our bully here).
It’s sad that earnest, hard-working people like this cobbler has to face crap like this.
Sadly, I cannot think of a solution for this, unless it involves some (black) magic or brainwashing or …. 😕
This will definitely be on my mind as I hike up to Hattiban/Champadevi tomorrow.