Monday, September 2, 2013



PHOTO Autar Mota 


Wherever a person is required to remove his shoes  to enter a religious place or sit for food in a gathering or attend some social obligation where a large number of strangers are also present , he runs the risk of his shoes being stolen. Shoe thefts are a world wide phenomenon. You find shoe thieves in Asia , Africa , Europe,Australia  and America. They are active  in hot  deserts  and also   in cool and temperate Mediterranean climates   .It is practiced in churches , temples and mosques by people of all races and colours .No  caste , colour or religious divide for this adventure. In India a social sanction has been accorded to this practice in marriages  when shoes of the bridegroom are stolen in  by youngsters demanding cash in lieu thereof. 

“Tchey Yuunn Vobaah. Tchey Pyon Aata-shaq. Tche Gatssienn Dast e kassiyaan . Hataa Tche Draaiyaa Hoalleijj. Tchey Goyaa  Phaallij. Guss  Tche Gatchhinnaya Kaambal. Goyaa Badanuss Nosoor.  Haa  Boot Tchooro . Goyaa Gaadi Tal Khoarr Ya Boot Laagithh…. Pyokhaa Ali Jaanus Pyaath. Guss Tche tchotanyaa karan Nagareik doctor Bhanun hedrooniss Munz yudd.Tche Nyothha Mohd sidiquss Noavv Boot. Tche goyaa Garuss loot.”

“ Let Cholera visit you. Let you fall a prey to deadly syphilis. Let you turn sick with blood Dysentery .Let small pox visit your body. Let a stroke attack you. Let jaundice attack you. Let your body get incurable wounds . O you shoe Thief! Let your feet be crushed under a vehicle when you wear these shoes. Let you become  a  regular patient of Dr Ali Jaan . Let Dr B M Bhan( Surgeon ) of karan Nagar open your tummy in  Gov:t SMHS Hospital srinagar .Did you steal  Mohd. Sidiq’s shoes ? Let a gang of thieves loot your household.”
This is  what  Sondhri mother of  Mohd  Sidiq Baker  ( Sidda  Kaandhur)  and Our neighbour in Rainawari  kept  crying (  cursing the thief ) while moving in the Mohhala lane for about two hours. Mohd sidiq’s shoes had been stolen from a nearby mosque and Sondhri  suspected that some one from khatiji’s family had stolen the new pair of shoes .She had also seen khatiji’s husband entering the mosque last of all. Kahtiji’s family  was comparatively poor . Khatiji’s family  also lived in the  same Mohalla .
“Kyaah Maahraa Kyaa chhuvaa Tchhaandaan . Me Vanniv .”
“ What are you looking for ? Tell Me .”
“ Yemiss Maaraah Niyukh Naavv Bata Chappien . Yettien Thhavein paanuss paaetkin ta beethh Batuss. Khabar kuss phoruss. Ye chhanuss tchhenimich Nylon Chappien Thhavmith tamie badalah ”
“ Sir her New Bata sandals have been stolen .She had safely put them  outside the Shamiyana just where she sat for the food. God knows who stole it. See the thief has kept a pair of   old , worn out and abused  cheap rubber sandals in place of her new sandals”

“ Traath yimunn Chuppni Tchooran . Meharbaani karivv Mahraa ,Taam kaddivv Zudd . Pataa vuchhav kyaah karoav”
“ Let these  thieves  get burnt under lightening from the clouds . Please  make some temporary  arrangement . Let me see what can be done later on . ”

This is what the host  told the sufferers in that marriage . This is an actual incident in a  kashmiri Pandit Marriage  Lunch. I was joined by my colleague who had come along with his mother. His mother had insisted  that she be allowed to take her sandals   inside the  marriage shamiyana . Kashmir Pandit ladies would generally sit over the Sandals or shoes of accompanying children and eat the food .  While eating food, they would also repeatedly ensure that the shoes or sandals were there inspite of holding them so close .Such was the fear of losing your shoes or sandals in a marriage feast . I felt guilty for suggesting   the friend to place the Sandals and shoes outside the Shamiyana exactly where we were sitting for  eating our food.

I know about  many  incidents wherein shoes or  sandals of my relatives or friends  were stolen ( Before migration of Pandits 1990 )    outside some  temples in Srinagar .  The shoes of one of my  friend were  stolen when he went to Nowhatta locality in down town srinagar city   for  offering   his condolences to some close relative’s family wherein a   Death had taken place  .This friend  told me that he had to keep quiet and cover the distance barefooted back to his house located  in Ali kadal  locality .

The practice of stealing shoes from Mosques has not come to halt  in Kashmir  .Many friends keep complaining about  this issue privately .  Shoe thieves in other social get-together/ events are also on a look out for a good pair of branded or new shoes or sandals .
I also know of a friend’s son in law who  lost his new shoe outside a Temple in Janipur. The boy had come to his in-law’s house for a PHIRSAAL feast . He along with his wife were suggested to visit a Temple by his in-law’s family .  And the poor fellow  had to come back    barefooted.
To a large extent , shoe thefts have vanished from Kashmiri Pandit Marriage  feasts only on  account of the fact that shoes are not to be removed any more after the switch over to Buffet system. But you can not guarantee such thefts in other gatherings.

And then  i am always surprised to find  how some bizarre second hand  stuff is  sold in Sunday Market of Kashmir .If you find second hand clothes and ,Internationally  Branded Jeans , you also notice second hand Chinese carpets , old Books  ,  second hand   quilts  , new and used Blankets and strange but true ,   second hand shoes of international brands like Nike , Adidas ,Puma, Vans ,and Converse etc for men and  Rock And Candy ,Steve Madden, Saucony,Life Stride ,Jelly Pop and Skechers etc.for women.

“ Aao Aao . Looto Looto .
Bumbai Kaa Maal . 
Dekho  Apni Chaal .
Farangi ne Bhejaa .
Paaanch sau mein Lejaa.
 Idhar Idhar .
Dekhataa kidhar .
O khan ! Joota Pehchaan .
Thhuff Ha sa Thuff .
Maashee Juff Juff.”

“ Come ! Come !
Loot it ! Loot It !
This is Mumbai stuff
And see your style .
Europeans have sent it
Grab it just for five hundred rupees.
Her! Here !
Do not look anywhere .
O Khan , select  a shoe for yourself.
It is a surprise gift . Yes a surprise gift.
You shall forget that old Juff Juff Gait.”

This is how   the Hawkers and Foot Path or Chaarpoy traders   in Sunday   Market cry to  attract onlookers and pedestrians  for buying the second hand shoes in kashmir .I asked a seller as to where from do these second hand shoes come . To this query he replied that  they buy bundles of this stuff from Traders in New Delhi or other places .

Plenty of this stuff is sold  in srinagar’s  Sunday market or otherwise on footpaths or  in Reddis by Hawkers .You need to select a good pair by putting your hand inside the shoe heap. Pay anything from Rs 500 to Rs700 and carry home a shoe of international Brand .  It could be almost New.

Where from do these shoes come? Could be  stolen stuff  from Asian countries traded through  a well organized network  ? I am not sure . It appears so. For sure these shoes  have not been donated or given  in   charity for  brothers and sisters living in poor and developing countries by  their  affluent well wishers from developed countries. No Red Cross channel brings these shoes  as is generally talked about.  some newspaper reports on the subject  may clear  lurking doubts
 I quote some International news paper reports on the subject  ..

( 1 )Precautions for Tourists on “ Ooty Holidays And Tour packages” brochure

“When you go into a temple, you have to leave your shoes outside. A good security measure is to separate your shoes, so it will be difficult for a thief to find both of them quickly. A shoe thief will not wear one shoe while he is looking for the other. The best thing is not to bring expensive shoes to temples at all, especially a good new pair of sneakers (running shoes) or Berkenstocks.”

(2)Newspaper report 16.07.2008

“The 48-year-old man was caught by a local man who had seen him loitering outside the Rayyan mosque in Qatar, reported Qatar daily Gulf Times on Wednesday.
After making his prayers, the Qatari had discovered his $100 shoes had gone missing and after walking barefoot to his car he again noticed the Egyptian, this time carrying a bag about a kilometre from the scene of the crime.When he was confronted, the thief threw the bag over a wall. Inside were 15 to 20 pairs of shoes valued at about $1400, the newspaper said.”

(3)Newspaper  Report DATED 05.05.2013.

“Thieves target   temples all over Thailand and there's big money to be made on second
hand shoes.”

(4)Newspaper report 30.06.2013.
Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio ( Titanic star )was  sightseeing in the country and joined a group of fellow Americans on a trip to a hilltop temple in Kyoto, Japan. He was tense and  upset  when his shoes were stolen . The poor guy had to leave the place barefoot."
(5)Newspaper report 25.02.2010.
“Shoes are stolen from outside all the popular shrines right across India, including the dargah of the sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Shirdi, Siddhivinayak and Ganesh temple in Titwala. Tour operators running long distance luxury buses, work in partnership with the hawkers. The buses are used to transport the stolen shoes across the country.”
(6)Newspaper report 25.02.2010.
“Across the world a South Korean man has taken advantage of the custom of leaving shoes outside, as a show or respect, before entering the mourning rooms. Most mourners are dressed up and wear their best shoes. Police recently arrested a  man named Park believed to be a master shoe thief in  south korea.Park would take off his shoes before entering the mourning rooms, pretending to be one of the mourners. When he left he would step into a more expensive pair of footwear and leave his old shoes behind. The police arrested Park after his warehouse was raided. They found 1200 pairs of shoes, carefully stored in sizes, ready for sale in a second-hand shoe business in southern Seoul’s Sueso district.’’

(7)  A   Report  in  "DAILY MONITOR" UK year 2013  ..

"A friend once told me of several incidents of theft that had taken place at their church in the city centre. “Last Sunday, while mummy had left our pew for Holy Commun ion, a man came and picked up her bag claiming she had asked him to keep it for her,” Jane narrated. She went on to say that the man was accosted outside the church by ushers. “He was taken away to Police and luckily, mummy’s bag was recovered.”
It is no secret that not everyone in a house of prayer is a genuine worshipper. “I found a guy who survived being lynched at church because he was found in the parking lot attempting to unscrew a car headlamp,” another friend narrated. Churches, temples and mosques alike are infested by thieves and conmen. "

Let me conclude this post with couplets from Urdu poets Nazir Akbarabaadi and Altaf Hussain Haali ( Grand father of  noted film Maker late K A Abbas ) who were also victims of  shoe thefts  .

“Apne jooton se rahien sare namazi hoshiar
 Ek buzurgh Aatey hain masjid mein Khizr ki surat”.

( Altaf Hussain Hali )

(Those who come to offer namaz should take care of their shoes.
 An old man with the countenance of Khizr comes and, impliedly, steals them).”

Khizr is believed to be  a righteous servant of God who possessed great wisdom or mystic knowledge. This is a couplet by Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914). Hali was about 20 years old then and had come from his ancestral village in Panipat to a Delhi . Hali  had the good fortune of meeting  Poet Mirza Ghalib  before the outbreak of the Mutiny.

Masjid Bhi Aadmi Ne banaayi hai yaan miyaan
Banatay hain aadmi hi Imaam aur Khutb-Khwaan
Padtain Hain Aadmi hi Quran aur Nimaaz Yaan
Aur Aadmi Hi Unn ki Churaatein hain jootiyaan
Jo hai unn ko Taadataa so hai woh bhi Aadami
khaaliq se ja Milaa hai so hai woh bhi aadami
Jo naach Dkhtaa hai so hai woh bhi Aadmi…

( from Aadminaama by Nazir Akbarabaadi )

( Autar Mota 02.09.2013 )

1 Dr Ali Jaan.. A  widely respected Physician of Kashmir  with  great diagnostic skills .

2 Dr Brij Mohan Bhan . A  well known surgeon from kashmir .

3 PHIRSAAL  is a feast arranged for the Bridegroom by bride’s family immediately after the marriage. Generally children  accompany the boy  for this feast. This custom is practiced by  Muslims and Pandits of Kashmir .

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.