From the beginning of repair café, we had the privilege of meeting and interacting with many wonderful people. A whole new world opened up to us. Purna & I caught up with Manjunath whose story fascinated us. In the humdrum of life in the city, some people stay with you forever for their belief in themselves. This is one such story.
Manjunath worked at Subway as a manager. He had studied till 10th standard and was lucky to be hired by one of the multi-national companies. His family was proud of his job and Manjunath’s income was more than his peers.
But Manjunath was not happy. He found his job stressful and was thinking of other career paths. A chance trip to a BBMP solid waste collection center changed everything. His father had a shoe repair shop and Manjunath saw potential to restart it.
Without giving out any information back home, Manjunath reopened the small cubical and started working there. He had picked up mending by his father’s side as a child. He was an expert mender. He had another special skill as a child; he could make any old shoe new by cleaning or polishing it. He understood how to handle materials be it leather, canvas or rexine and know how to care for them in order to give them a new lease of life.
His trips to BBMP dry waste collection center got him bags full of shoes to repair, clean, wash and renew.
He started selling them. He soon found out he had a steady steam of buyers. He also figured that a lot came to him to get their shoe renewed. As we chatted with him, he had a big grin on his face. His small makeshift workplace by the tree is also the place where he meets his friends while he works with his very limited supply of tools which he said was enough for him. He has a lot of friends who are his repeat customers. He told us he is earning much more than his previous job. He reluctantly showed us his old ID card - his folks back at home still believe he worked there.
Much money gets pumped into conferences and delegations where a global stance on closed-loop economy is debated and discussed. Lobbyists from all over the world meet to discuss how the global problem of a liner industry system can be solved. Amidst all this, here in Bangalore we have Manjunath who is working out a way ahead for millions of us locally.
E. F. Schumacher in his book ‘small is beautiful’ repeatedly said that localized solutions are the only way out for the global crisis industrialization has caused.
I am sharing a quote from his book here.
"Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful."