The cobbler from Chail

Last week, my husband and I decided to take a break, not a touristy one but to somewhere far from the madding crowd. We decided on Chail. Well, I zeroed in and my better half agreed to chauffeur us there.

Chail is a sleepy town in the state of Himachal Pradesh with a population of around 8000. There are no honking cars, no mall roads to shop till you drop and get looted in the process. Just fresh air, mountains and scenic beauty to enjoy. Our stay was in a small hotel with excellent food and views to kill for.


We left on a Saturday morning and reached Chail by noon. Just as we were getting out of our car to check into the hotel, my husband found to his horror that his shoes looked like a pair of crocodiles all ready to devour some prey. On enquiry, the hotel staff informed us that there were no shops nearby where we could get some adhesive to paste the soles. Did the town have a cobbler who could repair the shoes? The staff hemmed and hawed and asked us to drive into the market to try our luck.


To my utter delight, I found the one and only cobbler of Chail sitting under a tree.

He did a great job with the shoes and when I asked him how much I owed him for this yeoman service (of course yeoman, considering my hubby had to walk and drive for the next day and a half in them) J, the sweet old man smiled and said ‘aapki shraddha’. When I insisted on him telling me, he stumped me by asking for just thirty rupees. I paid him more than what he had asked for and thanked him for his help.

What left me flummoxed me was the complete lack of greed on his part. We normally hear of tourists getting fleeced by locals. How many of us really go to cobblers when on a holiday? Isn’t that reason enough for him to charge me more? But not this man… I realised this was what small town living and innocence was all about. May this breed never perish!!!




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