Elephant in the Room and Aji

Elephant in the Room

Riding sea snakes on the freeway,
making sand castles on the moon
I just found my deep water point
held my breathe for the month of June.
Ballet school for wombats
moving mountains with a spoon
Demons singing nursery rhymes
serving caviar from the womb
Bats in the belfry
an epitaph for my tomb
Strangled by the weight
Of the elephant in the room


Aji sat on his shoeshine box, eyes scanning the jam of tourists moving through Manali’s main thoroughfare.
“How about him?”I asked,pointing to a large bellied Indian man dressed in businessman-like clothes and expensive shoes waddling down the street.

“No, him no good. Spend money on food, not shoeshine”. I wasn’t about to question this ten year old street urchin or his client spotting ability as he’d proved time and again he'd developed a keen eye for profit.

“Him?” Another middle-aged Indian, this time dressed in not so fancy shoes.

“No, him local man, never have shoeshine.” Aji seemed annoyed at my inability to spot “shoe money” and let out a heavy sigh. It was lunch time and he had only made twenty rupees for the day.

I’d first met Aji shortly after I arrived in Manali on my way to Vashisht. It was raining and I was leaving a shoe store after buying a pair of waterproof boots, the slushiness of the Himilayan streets causing my feet to almost freeze with the canvas shoes I’d brought with me from Australia. The young man was sitting on his shoeshine box, a shop-front awning protecting him from the downpour. Looking at my new shiny boots I wondered if I might see him again.

Sitting with Aji on the roadside curb I realized we’d known each other for more than two weeks, Aji having the uncanny ability to find me the days I walked into Manali. Our first few conversations were mostly driven by Aji’s insistence all shoes should be shined regularly to avoid disrepair. Two weeks on our chats were more varied with Aji’s only shoeshine request coming when he raised his shine brush and eyebrows in unison if it looked like I may be readying to leave.

I’m not entirely sure Aji was an orphan as he claimed, but looking at his dirty bare feet, grubby yellow jumper and torn jeans it was obvious that this enterprising man was far from wealthy. I once asked if he had any fees or charges enforced on his shoeshine business from some type of shoeshine mafia to which he replied,”No, money for me. For food”

I slipped my newly polished boots onto my feet and paid Aji the twenty rupees for my first use of his services. I stood to leave, reached into my pocket again and gave the young businessman another forty rupees. I would pay for a shine or two in advance.

Comments (15)

I stood to leave, reached into my pocket again and gave the young businessman another forty rupees. I would pay for a shine or two in advance.
I know what that guy felt in his heart to see Aji's happy face, whoever that generous guy was.

It really doesn't take much to change a person's day sometimes, does it?

That's so true... We can all try to be a little kinder... smile
What I find depressing is the look of confusion on some people's face after you do a little something nice
for someone or be kind in some way. It's almost as if it occurs so rarely that others don't know what to make of it. Or, there must be some hidden agenda or ulterior motive behind it.
No, it doesn't take much, but the feeling you get is grand. A wise man said thar giving/sharing is actually for self satisfaction.

In this case, better not to assume, as it will only lessen the power of giving you got earlier. Keep the good feeling, don't let the people's look ruin it. cowboy

It's not like that here yet - at least not in the place where I live. smile People still do small kind things for each other. For example, you go to a store and don't have small change and the shop assistant tells you: 'It's OK, you will pay the rest tomorrow' and similar things. But, it's changing rapidly and people are getting more and more selfish and self-centered each day...
maya - It's a condition found more in city living perhaps..
It does feel good to help someone, sometimes.
SPCTR - It does. I also think it important to be able to accept help as well..
TR,. Love it. thumbs up
wenever - You're a generous man.
A privilege not all of us have the opportunity to experience ...what a shame but we build our own walls. No one we can blame for that.

Does the word "Tzedaká" mean anything to you? forget about religious connotations and if jewish fulfill it or not, if you want to read about it, do it as from the concept of social justice and how to practice it, that is what matters here ....if you have read Kabbalah maybe you have read about it....
I'm not familiar with Tzedaká but will try and have a look.
Nice picture, TokyoRogue. thumbs up

Hold all calls from GQ and Esquire magazine.
Alex7: "Happy Birthday "(meet us in the ecards)

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