Raju The Shoe Guru

Raju The Shoe Guru
His eyes started to fill with tears and he told me that their house collapsed and they lost both his grandmother and grandfather

Sometimes traveling can be really hard, especially when you allow it to overwhelm your personal space. That's exactly how I like to travel, pushing my comfort zone and my own boundaries. Here is a story that happened to me today. I am in Kathmandu, Nepal and today was my first day so I decided to get up early, have breakfast and just walk around town, no game plan.

About 30 min into my exploration I met a 27 year old man named Raju. He just wanted to walk and practice his English with me. This is a tried and true tourist line so that they can sell you something or guide you around. It has happened so many times before but I felt something more from Raju so I took the bait:) We walked and talked and he showed me some temples and sites that were damaged or destroyed by the Earthquake. He was very intelligent and spoke very good english but my mind had defaulted to thinking what does this guy want, he's going to ask for money. I wasn't listening to my mind because my spirits were pushing me to go deeper with Raju. So I asked him about his family and if they were affected by the earthquake. His eye started to fill with tears and he told me that their house collapsed and they lost both his grandmother and grandfather.... luckily, all his other family members were ok but they have had to scatter all through Nepal to look for work. He was the Man of the house and was taking care of his 3 children, wife, aunty and her children. The other men were in the mountains working, not exactly sure when they would be back. I believed him, he had a real heartfelt tone in his voice and you can tell he was hurting. We walked and talked for 4 hours and I knew he was waiting for the right time to ask for some money, which I was going to give him anyway for his services but also because he seemed very genuine.

I asked him where he lived and he told me that their house collapsed and they were all living in a tented community about 30 min outside of town. He asked if I wanted to see it (knowing I would say no)... and I gladly accepted. He started fidgeting and umms and ohhhhs started coming out as he reached into his pocket and pulled out some crumbled up money.. I don't have enough for us both to catch the microbus to the village. It would be 40 rupees and I only have my fare of 20 rupees. So 100 rupees is a dollar just for clarity. I told him I would pay for both if he took me. He then said but it's very dirty and I have nothing to offer you but tea. Nepalese people are very proud and very generous so I know that this is troubling for him to not be able to offer food and drink to guests. He went on and continued to explain how tough times were for his family. He used to be "Raju the Shoe Guru". He mended, fixed and polished shoes for a living but his box, stand and supplies were destroyed in the earthquake. He showed me a shoe brush and 2 cans of polish he had found in the debris but that was it. He was carrying them around in him backpack, hoping to find some work but he said he couldn't even do it correctly with the limited supplies he had. So we talked some more and I insisted that we go to his village and I would love to meet his family.

So we were off, 27 people I counted in the microbus that sat around 12 people max. A sweaty but cozy ride I must say. We arrived 30 min later and somehow got off the overcrowded bus. We made our way to the tent which was just that, a makeshift wooded structure with burlap for roof and floor and a bright blue tarp for a roof rain barrier. Inside was one wood bed with a pile of pillows and a couple of blankets. The fire was in the tent but vented and that was divided by a rack of pots, pans and glasses. Outside was a huge container of plastic bottles they collected to get money at the recycle complex. Trash was everywhere outside and it smelled pretty bad. Kids were running around and the women were washing clothes on a cement piece of rubble from one of the collapsed houses. The Aunty and wife made us all some tea and we sat down and talked more. His youngest 2 kids were there and we played a little and they all got a kick out of my nose piercing. They were all so nice but I could tell they were a little.. Not embarrassed but more troubled that they didn't have more to offer me. At the end of our time we left and Raju was walking me to the taxis when I asked him if there was a shop that sells shoe shine and repair supplies. He smiled and said yes it's right over there. So we went and looked and I ended up buying him everything he needed to start up his business again. He was so happy he started to cry, he said you are my god today, I was so worried how I was going to make everything work since tourism is down so much and I'm responsible for so many mouths. Our next stop the grocery store, where we picked out rice, oil, powdered milk, noodles, juice, vegetables and other goods. We bought in bulk and he said it would last his family a month and gave me a big hug and cried some more.

I do not write this post to tell you the great thing I just did, but to show you that letting go of the minds thoughts and opening yourself up to trusting your true intuition, even when it takes your out of your comfort zone, and fully surrendering to that moment, can lead to an amazing experience like the one I just had with Raju. He thinks I helped him, but in all honesty he helped me. For me, giving and knowing that I impacted this mans world and his family, even in a small way, brings me so much joy and gratitude to my life. One Love!