BHOPAL: Bharat Gannote introduces himself as the ‘doctor of shoes’. If you are passing by his small shop, it is bound to catch your eyes.
The middle-aged cobbler’s streetside shop in Bhopal’s TT Nagar, has the words ‘Jooton Ka Doctor’ painted on all sides and on the board too.
Gannote is well-known in the locality and his customers apart from other local residents also call him ‘doctor sahab’. “I mend shoes and I am really good at it, hence, I call myself Jooton ka doctor or the doctor of shoes”, he says.
“My services are excellent and I can mend shoes of any variety including the big brands that don’t get repaired in the market easily. I will give you my card, it has the information including charges for all the services”, he adds.
What makes him angry?
The ever-dmiling Gannote says that he gets angry when someone addresses him disrespectfully–there are bad terms that were used in old times to describe the profession. “A woman called me yesterday over phone to ask if the footwear had been mended but she used the offensive word”.
“I didn’t like it. I am waiting for her to come and will definitely give her a piece of my mind. Education doesn’t always make people realize that they should respect others and their work”, he says. I really get hurt when people call me what they used to call cobblers 50-60 yrs go. “The world has changed. Lekin padh likh kar aqal nahi aayi (Many haven’t learnt even after getting educated)”, he rues.
Dignity of Labour
Gannote says that people who work hard must be respected in the society. During the conversation, he repeatedly says that he takes his job very seriously. “I am never late and do my work with perfection”, he says with pride.
“When someone works hard, is dedicated to the job and is dead honest, they deserve respect. It is not about who earns more or less.”Everyone, officer or worker must get proper respect”, he says. “I want people to address me properly, respectfully, just the way I address them”.
Gannote also repairs umbrellas, suitcases and bags like many other cobblers. However, he claims that his work speaks for himself. “I try to do the best and when I know I can’t do it, I refer the customer to the best person”.
Life, happiness and regrets
Sitting under the photograph of Saint Ravi Das, he works throughout the day—opening shop as early as 8 am and closing it by 8 pm. “I am happy, contented with my life. This year I will cross 51 but do I look old?”, he chuckles.
I belong to Ahirwar community and didn’t have opportunity to study. Later, when I was a teenager I studied a bit and learnt to read and write. However, I tried to get my sons and daughters, educated. Yet, they didn’t take any interest and that’s my only regret, he says.
As I take leave, he hands me the visiting card, pointing out that it has all the information about his skills apart from even the exact date, (December 27, 1992) when he had set up the ‘Jooton ka Doctor shop’.