For 61-year-old Rajesh Rokka, shoemaking runs in his family. The Nepali – who hails from the city of Lalitpur – has been plying his trade as a cobbler in Kathmandu for 45 years, after learning the ropes from his father and grandfather when he was just a teenager.
Continuing that tradition, he has since passed on his skills to his eldest son, 36-year-old Ram Krishna. Today, father and son run a shoe shop together in the city’s Nagal neighbourhood.
We ask the cobbler to share some of the highlights of his long career.
How did you get started?
It’s a family business, but to be honest, there was no other work around at the time.
How much do you charge for your services?
I charge between NPR10 (US$0.10) and NPR700 (US$6.90) to repair old shoes. If I’m making a new pair, my fee ranges from NPR500 (US$4.90) to NPR1600 (US$15.60).
What are your hours like?
I work 10 hours a day, from Monday to Saturday.
What are some of the challenges you face?
It can be hard to get the raw materials for the shoes. Also, my customers tend to bargain a lot.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m happy to see that people, epecially the older generation, still want to buy handmade shoes.
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This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine