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Mr. Wong's Shoe Mart (standard:non fiction, 818 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Aug 17 2013Views/Reads: 3237/849Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story of a Chinese immigrant that operated a shoe mart for decades in a southern Indian town.

Mr. Wong's Shoe Mart 

Subba Rao 

In India animal leather is considered unclean and unholy.  At 

the airports check point, travelers are asked to remove their belts 

and shoes for security reasons; at Hindu temples the devotees were 

asked to remove leather belts,  shoes  or any other leather objects 

before entering the shrine because leather is considered impure and 

unholy since most leather comes from  cows hide and  cow is sacred. 

Though leather jackets, shoes, belts, bags, purses and other leather 

objects are purchased all the time, in Hindu culture people that make 

living in making or repairing leather shoes were at the bottom of 

hierarchical caste system, kind of untouchable in the sense people 

don't want to touch them, a totally different meaning in the west 

where untouchable means somebody too powerful. 

During communist takeover of China, few Chinese families 

escaped to India for asylum, one such family travelled all the way to 

a coastal southern Indian city to make living. Everybody called him 

Mr. Wrong; perhaps the local people have trouble pronouncing his real 

name Wong. For a Chinese he was very tall and sturdy. He was always in 

white under shirt with sleeves and a striped pajama pants. Mr. Wong 

operated a small shoe store right behind an unofficial bus stop; there 

was no standing structure as a shelter for people waiting for the 

buses, it was a busy street corner where the city buses stopped to 

pick up passengers. People waiting for the buses always gathered at 

the entrance to Mr. Wong's shoe store. Mr. Wong didn't like that; for 

every so often, he would come out of his store waving his hands in a 

funny way to disperse the people from the entrance to his store. 

People regrouped in front of his store for the bus anyway after few 

minutes. This was a regular scene and people were amused than get 

angry at his shenanigans. 

Mr. Wong's wife was short and chubby always in flowery pajamas 

like nursing staff in hospitals. Pedestrians walking past the store 

mistook her for a mannequin whenever she sat on a chair inside the 

glass showroom in the store front working steadily on shoes. 

Mr. Wong won the hearts of the people for making quality shoes 

at discount prices. Though locals never consider touching or shake 

hand with native cobblers, they shook hand with Mr. Wong and some even 

hugged him for giving a bargain deal on shoes.  Mr. Wong though a 

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