I arrived at 9:45 for a 10:15 bus and while the bus was there, the driver had not yet opened the door. So me and a few more early birds were just standing outside, close to the bus.
A bus stand is always bustling with activity… The newspaper guy has all his dailies spread out; one the side he also selling cigarettes and tambakoo. The water bottle seller, also sells juice and biscuits and chips and candies. The ticket counter is busy as usual. Two little girls are roaming in tattered dresses and begging for qualms; one mother is dragging her child away from the candies; few people are buying water and newspaper for the road.
But the cobbler caught my attention. Maybe because while everyone else had settled, he was just opening his shop for the day. He had a big suitcase like wooden box; a big umbrella; a big jute bag and two wooden poles. After coming to his usual spot, he puts down everything and takes a look around as if sizing up his day from the morning crowd. The then opens his box, which quite smartly opens up completely and become a raised platform which is more or less his entire shop. He then carefully places all his items, the spare rubber soles, the nails, the glue, the cutter and the hammer etc on the “platform”.
Just then he noticed that one of the screws of the box was loose. So he first attends to that. After fixing the screw, he gives it a nice push with his hammer. Thak thak thak…
The sun by now is a little harsh. He puts his hand on his forehead as if to protect his eyes and looks in the direction of the sun. Time to put up the umbrella. He has a fairly bashed up grandfather umbrella whose black colour has now turned to grey after long hours of sun exposure. He opens up the umbrella and I can see the tears here and there… The tears don’t bother him as he uses the umbrella only for protection from the sun. He ties it to the shorter pole and tilts it in the direction of the sun.
All set. Well, almost.
Chotu comes from the tea stall across the street with a tea kettle in one hand and three glasses in another. He gives one to the cobbler, one to the newspaper guy and one to the water bottle guy.
The cobbler sips on his tea when his first customer for the day arrives with a bag repair and he gets down to business. At the same time our bus driver opens the bus.