Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SHOESHINE BOYS

The evening outside is very nice. We just had a small shower of rain and the smell of wet earth is still out there. I just finished sketching this piece and was out for a while with my daughter to enjoy the evening.




This picture made me think about my encounter with cobblers and shoeshine boys. Whenever I got my shoes repaired by the cobbler close to my home, he would also polish it without my asking. I never reduce this piece of work out of the total scope any time, as I believe it is an opportunity for them to make some more money.

I have not seen shoeshine points in Chennai like what I have seen in Kolkata or Mumbai. Am not sure if such points are still out there. When I was in Kolkata, I never got my shoes polished this way as my mind would not accept my directing my feet to a person to get it polished. I don't mean to project humility here, but it was an uncomfortable feeling that always ran through me. I would rather leave my shoes with him and get it later, or do the polishing myself.

A classic scene from the film Deewar comes to my mind whenever I see a shoeshine boy. Here the young Vijay who would grow up later to become a mafia leader ( the character played by the veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan), is a shoe shine boy. A rich business man comes to him to get his shoes polished and after getting it done, he flings a coin into his box and is about to walk off. The young boy calls him and tells him to take the coin and give it to him in his hand, as he believes he is not a beggar and that he deserves to be paid with honour for the work he has done. The business man is surprised with the audacity of the little boy, but complies with his request as he understands his perspective and the value attached to his work. I consider this scene as a very well taken one that adds depth to the character portrayed by the little boy, who has seen a lot of suffering at a very young age.

Even in our workplaces today, in this fast moving world of ours, it is difficult to demand such respect for the work that we put in everyday or for the many years of service that we have rendered in total, sacrificing our personal time and space. We should be lucky to get such respect. Many times we end up having to muster the fortitude to undergo insults and the stress situations that follow.

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