A Real Man and Entrepreneur: A Street Shoemaker

A Real Man and Entrepreneur: A Street Shoemaker

by Radha Paudel
Binod Mahara, Shoemaker in street, I spent about 2 hours with him, August 3, 2015

Binod was busy in sewing shoes

 About 3 pm of August 3, 2015, strong sunshine was experienced. A man with black beard and moustache, uncombed hair, brown paint, seems scales of white and brown color t-shirt with sleeper was coming over through bridge of Manoharariver at the boarder to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. He looked like homeless and crazy people seen in the street of Kathmandu. But I easily identified that the guy was belong with this street shoes repair center. Because the raged roofed center with few repair materials and a wooden box was with attained. 

Due to surgery and bike accident, my left leg is not strong, I am claiming up 5000 meter high but I would have hard time if I have to wait more than 2-3 minutes. I didn’t see any place such as restaurant; passenger’s waiting benches etc. nearby where as I have to wait minimum an hour for Hum so I decided to sit at this center.

With murmur sound, I am sitting (lau ma ta base hai),I sat on his wooden box, I was wearing black eye glass  with white and yellow color handles and covering my face with black cloth face mask.  I was carrying my bag pack in my raged computer bag too and wearing a blue long sleeve T-shirt and black jean paint and white Nike shoes.  He didn’t even look at me, remained quiet and kept on sewing shoes. He might think that I was also a customer of him. He was continuously serving his customers.
Lady: Brother was you free?
Shoemaker: I was here for that.
Lady: she was showing her shoes and asked, how much money did you charge?
Shoemaker: only 0.9 $, if you like to do through and through, it charged 1.2 $.
The lady was coming with young guy. That guy said, we can buy new shoes if we add 2 $. They returned back without repairing. He neither express unhappiness nor shown by his facial expression. He was continuously sewing shoes for another customer.
He was repairing an umbrella of a young lady. Suddenly, he spoke; how did you break this?
Lady: I was using it while riding bike
Shoemaker: very good (gentle manner), your umbrella still with you. Is the umbrella for bike?
Lady: remained silent.
Another lady came and asked in very polite tone, brother, my shoes were broken again; I repaired it just 3 days before.
Shoemaker: He just picked up the shoes and repaired.
Lady: how much money should I give?
Shoemaker: 0.2 $

He was quite busy; I was reading his mind, face and his business. So many questions were swimming in my mind but I was struggling to start. I was trying to understand his language. He was speaking very fluent Nepali. I have deep respect since I read the story of shoemaker, Simon in my Nursing course.

A very dusty, smoky Jadibuti chock was moving as usual. I was waiting and waiting Hum’s call from Ratnapark. Seemed Hum was being late. Meantime, I was aware that the road was crazy traffic due to protest by supporters of Hindu religion. The due date for constitution is close thus many groups and communities are claiming their rights by organizing various forms of protest. I, myself was in strategic meeting just before 1 hour for same for gender responsive constitution in upcoming constitution.  

I dared to tell, please use the facemask. People would have lung cancer, asthma that exposed in such environment for long. He innocently takes out his mask from pocket and put on his face but he was chewing tobacco and has to spit off.  Then I asked about his place of origin. He replied, Sarlahi. I pretended that I was from same district originally but living in Kathmandu since long. I continued my saying; I was from Harion from Sarlahi. I saw cherishes in his face and spoke, I was from Kabigachhi, ward no 2.  It was easy to continue our conversation.
I: my name is Radha Paudel, what is your name?
Shoemaker: Binod.
I: what next after Binod ? I really don’t like to ask but I have to identify about him.
Binod: Maha……ra (sounds whispering).
I: Mahatara?
Binod: no, Mahara.
I continued the conversation, I was facing him by sitting in his wooden box and he was facing to me when he stood up his head.
I: how long were you here?
Binod: more than 14 years, pointing towards the cinema hall in opposite site, it was made in front of me.
I: how did you learn? Did your dad or grand dad do same?
Binod: No, he was nodding his head. My grand dad was beaten me while I was quite young, due to denying plough in field. That day, I left home. I only heard about Kathmandu where my cousin was working. I met him in Koteshorand worked with him for 2 years then I am working here since last 14 years, he was fluent now like we were familiar since long.

I: How much money do you earn? (I scared to ask but I did).
Binod: he proudly shared, I counted the money at monthly basis, in average 300-430 $ /month (he was counting the money and said, see no earning only 9.5 $ for today, most of the times cross 10 $and reached like 15$.

Suddenly he changed his mood and said, I still failed to make a house in Kathmandu. I read his mind on how much pressure get men from society for economic responsibilities. He smiled gently and shared, but I able to made a house in Sarlahi at least.

I: it was great, you have good earning. Do you have planned to go to aboard for buying house in Kathmandu? Many people from Sarlahi are migrating nowadays.

Binod: He furiously said, why should I go? I have good earning. I am serving my country and people though many people discriminate me. Nepali folks didn’t like to work here and ready to work anything in aboard. They use tie and shoot from that kind of earning and went to the restaurant. I really feel sorry to them.
A young boy was came to me by running and picked up his superglue that he had urgent. Binod just shouted No..No..I don’t care of your urgency and he snatched his superglue. That boy returned with scolding but Binod was calm and busy again as usual.

After a while, a lady came and said,
Lady: brother my shoes gone.
Binod: Thank you, he smiled.
He sewed very quickly.
I was impressed with dignity, gentleness and meantime curious about his habit as I know many men are lazy and have extra marital relationships.
I: were you living with your family, here?
Binod: He quickly appeared sad, my wife doesn’t ready to come here, she feels shame in front of the people.
I: does she came before?
Binod: No, but felt shame and humiliation because she is illiterate and from terai community. She said, she should have her house to stay here.
I: how much you studied?
Binod: no.
I: really, you must study primary school.
Binod: Really. In my village no school for people like me, he spit out left side.

I understood well that he represent low status in many ways.
He was working as usual, customers were coming and going. He was maintaining his account too.
I: where did you eat your meal?
Binod: he raised his head suddenly and looked at me, left the sewing work and raised his both hands and shouted, what is the use of these hands? Do I have my wife when I was born? Is there any guarantee of having wife till my death? I cook myself. I cook food early in the morning for lunch and I cook dinner after closing this work. Usually, I open my shop at 6 am in the morning and close at 7 pm in evening. 

I don’t have any questions and doubt on his saying. I just kept on listening and smiling.

But he needs to tell to justify himself as REAL Men.
I: How do you spend such big amount of money?
Binod:  I send the money to my wife and kids in between 10-15 days through bank. My daughter is still young but son is studying. I wanted to educate them well as here. I have to pay 25 $ /month for room rental and keep some money for my food.
He didn’t tell about his habit. But he was chewing his tobacco and was spitting out in between  1-2 sentence, sometimes left and sometimes right.
I asked, do you drink alcohol?
Binod: yes, I did but very rare. Sometimes, I went to party along with my friends. In Nepali context, starting drinking is not really good habit, usually people likely be addicted gradually.  He added, now this is the month of Srawanso I don’t eat anything like meat, fish, and drink. His face was down while trying to justify this. 

Immediately, I asked; so you were Hindu right? Don’t you go to the rally today, it was all by Hindu.
Binod:  Again, he angered and said; why should I go for rally. I have friends from all religion; we are eating together and helping each other, no need to fight each other. Everyone has right to choose religion thus I don’t join the rally, I am Hindu but I don’t say Hindu country.  I quickly asked, do you aware about constitution. He replied, yes, I know but leaders won’t bring, always fighting for them not for us.

I simply amused by hearing him. I smiled with him but he was working as usual.

I like to take his photo and thought to write about him but I don’t have camera and my mobile was broken. Though I did try, can I take your photo though I have not good camera. He said, no and simultaneously asked, why? I simply said, I wanted to share your stories to all young people and others. He smiled my story? Who cares? I insisted him. But he is not ready. Then I asked, can I take photo with you? I got nervous and say no again. I continued to push him; can I take a photo of your materials please? I might tire. He said, took a photo of mine only. I quickly caught it by my broken mobile.

He didn’t ask anything about me but I felt bad that I have asking so many questions and he just responded all.  I just shared him, I am educated women, went to colleagues. Now, I am going to Banepa to see earthquake people for some volunteer work and waiting my friend, he was in heavy traffic.

Again, I asked, where you were during the earthquake.
Binod: I was here, working as same now. The guy ran away but I didn’t. Everyone coming on the street and I am already in street. I was following all activities such as buses, bikes, people, houses and all, everything shaking well and scary. The people like us, no problem during any type of crisis, he said with boldly.

He continued and asked, how many kids you have?  I was shocked. It is always easy to provide suggestions and asking but hard to keep on their foot. I was nervous but pretend that I was ok. I said, I have only one daughter, she just passed +2 and looking for bachelor degree and living with her dad as usual. I tried to give all expected queries in single answer. He added, it’s good to have one child, the education is so expensive, I am in village, everyone need asked for more so I have two and I stopped already.

Hum texted me that he was in Koteshor. I shared with him, my friend is very close at Koteswor, and I have to leave soon. I will come to say hello later when I will walk through this road. He just nodded his head and working as usual but customers looked at him, they seemed newly married couple.  I am sure that they will talk about me later because the way they watched is very difference or curious.

Due to heavy traffic, Hum was delayed and I dared to ask one brave questions. Literally, I was scared though I asked; how often you bit your wife.

Binod: he innocently replied, I saw how the manhood is in crisis. I slapped only one time in my married life. He tried to justify, I felt guilt even now but she slapped to quite young son so I failed to control. I really impressed with him and also felt respect, because he was telling everything from his heart. He can lie with me.
When I saw the bus for Banepa and Hum was hanging at door, I said Namaste and good bye to Binod and went to Kavre.
I was walking next day at the muddy, rainy road of Gairibisauna in Kavre, I felt something hanging in my heel side of shoes. I turned back and saw that the outer sole was peeling out. I afraid with my leg, how can walk without my shoes. My leg is getting weaker and weaker, have constant pain in knee and thigh where I had injury from bike accident. Meanwhile, I missed Binod.

I carefully tried to walk whole two days. The road is steep, slippery, rainy, red muddy and all bad things. I consciously stepped out and praying to be ok till Kathmandu. These shoes were original Nike Company from USA but second hand from Shanta. I used these shoes for two years from Jumla and one month immediate relief work and all places where I travelled. 

In August 5, I got off at same Jadibuti from Phedi, Kavre with very dirty, dusty, hungry and tired get up. I crossed the zebra cross quickly. I saw same raged roof shoes repair center while I crossed the road.  I directly went to Binod’s shop and greetings by saying Namaste. He smiled and continued his work as usual. He was in same get up, same work and same silence. I sat in his same wooden box and take out my shoes. He took out mud from shoes by his bare fingers. I felt bad, I asked him, please use the gloves. He said, by using gloves, couldn’t do work. I was remembering the place where I walk, dirty road in village where there is no toilets due to earthquake. Meanwhile, I also remember the smooth, fine and black gloves, which I saw these in the Shakespeare’s house in London. These were made by Shakespeare’s dad.

He also kept about 10 pair of shoes next to his side. Immediately, I recognized that it is his business, selling secondhand shoes as I am leading for Miteri Recycle Center for clothes.

I asked him, how much should I give? He simply said, no need. I really felt bad. He was working such hard and hazardous work at lethal place how can I left without paying. I asked again but he said No with louder tone. I was in dilemma, big dilemma. Did I disrespect him or other? I was thinking to give something but my bag was empty except 75 % filling up coke. I usually don’t drink coke but I bought that due to not having a water while get on bus.  I was thinking should I throw some money and run or leave this coke. Finally, I said, you are my brother, I am already 45 years and you are only 37 years. This bottle is clean, please drink it, and don’t throw away. He still denying and saying pardain..pardain– no…no. I ran way and cross the road for catching the bus for destination.

In my life, I met men from various walks of life. They were quite educated, rich, political, intellectual and all but not disciplined as Binod. Few characters of Binod matched with REAL man. Does any political party or leader or any development institution think about such shoemaker, their life, their contribution in rural and micro economics and challenges at their life in future.  He has dignity, determination, accountability towards family and country.  If he is saying honestly, he is an inspiring entrepreneur and more importantly a REAL man.

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