This is Mr. Shoe Man. He fixes my shoes.
Every day, he sits outside the side gate to the Brown Flats, where I live. In between the seamstress with her foot-pedal-powered sewing machine, and the chappati guy who fries up the hot flat bread over charcoal fire all morning, Mr. Shoe Man sits. Armed with twine, a knife, and a sharp nail atached to a wooden handle, he works wonders with shoes.
For less than 50 cents, he can re-fasten soles, re-attach the thong of a flip-flop to the base, and probably a host of other shoe-miracles that I’m not even aware of. He’s saved my shoes a number of times (Kampala roads and rocks aren’t exactly shoe-friendly).
He knows next to no English, and I know next to no Luganda, but almost ever day we have a conversation – hello, welcome back, how are you – in varying combinations of Luganda and English. As strange as it sounds, it’s honestly little interactions like this that always make me pause and realize how much I’m going to miss life in Kampala.