Boot polish

Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, January 9th 2009

Yes, I've been sitting right here in this very spot for the past 8 or 10 years. Its not bad work really, I average about Rs 200 to Rs 250 per day in earnings. I charge Rs 5 for cleaning these leather shoes of yours, haven't you been maintaining them? Look at all these scuff marks around the front. No, this isn't polish yet, I'm applying a black (paint? liquid?) first to cover the scuffs.


Rs 5? Are you sure you're charging me enough? You're using all these creams, powders and lotions on this shoe. Yes, madam, just you wait and see, it will brand new again. No, no, Rs 5 is fine. I buy my supplies from the wholesalers. See these nails? They cost Rs 100 a kilo but I just go and buy Rs 10 worth and it lasts me a long time. I buy everything in small quantities and renew my inventory when I need to. No, it lasts long enough, I just need to top up once or twice a month. That?  (pointing to the round black metal lidded box with Royal written on it). That's a scraper, I use it to roughen the smooth leather I use to resole shoes, I made it myself (said very proudly). I made about 200 or 300 holes using this fine awl and it works just as well as fancy sandpaper. And lasts longer too, its made of metal.


No, its not a bad living, I've minimized my overheads, no, I don't even need to keep the cop's hands greased. This is my regular spot and has been for years. Well I'll occasionally polish a policeman's boots but that's about it. I'm from Bihar but I've been here (Old Delhi) for years and if you do a good job and they know you, its just like having a shop to go to every morning.


There, you see, just like new again. Now you be polishing them once in ten days, you hear, they're made of leather, and will last you a good long time if you take care of them. Cheap shoes don't last very long and there's no point repairing them after a while. The worst are the plastic cheap ones which can't be repaired, frankly, its not worth buying them at all. Spend a little more on something that can be maintained and repaired and you won't have to replace them that often.

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